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Filipino megachurch founder forced girls and young women into sex, telling them it was ‘God’s will,’ feds say

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 11/19/2021 Andrea Salcedo, Regine Cabato
Apollo Carreon Quiboloy appears on his talk show in 2016 in Davao City, southern Philippines. Quiboloy, the leader of the Philippines-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, was charged with forcing women and girls into having sex, federal prosecutors announced Thursday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo. File) © Aaron Favila/AP Apollo Carreon Quiboloy appears on his talk show in 2016 in Davao City, southern Philippines. Quiboloy, the leader of the Philippines-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, was charged with forcing women and girls into having sex, federal prosecutors announced Thursday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo. File)

Between 2002 and 2018, Apollo Carreon Quiboloy — the founder of a Philippines-based megachurch — and his accomplices recruited women and girls as young as 12 to work as Quiboloy’s personal assistants, or “pastorals,” prosecutors said.

Under Quiboloy and his accomplices’ orders, women and girls prepared his meals, cleaned his multiple residences in the Philippines and the United States, gave him massages and accompanied him on trips around the world, court records state.

For over 15 years, the victims were forced to devote their lives and bodies to the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name by writing “commitment letters” to Quiboloy, prosecutors state.

Quiboloy, an ally of the Philippine president who has referred to himself as “the Appointed Son of God” and is believed to be 71, allegedly forced the women and girls to regularly engage in sexual acts with him in what he called the “night duty.” Quiboloy, also known as “sir” and “pastor,” and his accomplices would tell his victims that obedience to Quiboloy was “God’s will” and that “night duty” was considered a privilege and a means to salvation, court records state.

Now, Quiboloy and two of his top administrators, Teresita Tolibas Dandan, 59, and Felina Salinas, 50, have been charged with orchestrating a sex-trafficking operation, federal prosecutors announced this week. Girls and young women were forced into sex with the church’s leader under threats of “eternal damnation,” according to a superseding indictment unsealed on Thursday and filed in the U.S. Central District of California.

Quiboloy, Dandan and Salinas could not be reached for comment. Michael Green, an attorney representing Quiboloy, denied the allegations against his client in a Friday interview with The Washington Post. Green said the new indictment is based on false testimony from former church members.

“He [Quiboloy] is being accused by people that have lied about him for years,” Green told The Post. “These people are trying to destroy him and the church... We’ll defend the case."

Court records do not list attorneys for Dandan and Salinas.

In a statement released Friday, legal counsel for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ said its leaders were “maliciously accused” and dismissed those raising the case as “dissidents.”

“We are confident and ready to face whatever is hurled against Pastor Quiboloy and the Kingdom leaders,” it said.

The 42-count superseding indictment includes nine defendants and expands on charges filed last year against three church administrators. That indictment accused the administrators of illegally bringing church members to the United States on fraudulent visas and forcing them to solicit money for a bogus charity that financed the megachurch’s operations and its leaders’ lavish lifestyles.

Video: Apollo Quiboloy, Leader Of Philippines-Based Megachurch Kingdom Of Jesus Christ, Indicted For Sex Trafficking (CBS Los Angeles)


Federal investigators say some members who successfully solicited money for the church were forced into sham marriages. Leaders allegedly arranged fraudulent student visas for others so the members could continue collecting money for the church.

Quiboloy enjoys close relations with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is most known for a bloody war on drugs that has left thousands dead. Duterte previously said Quiboloy had gifted him a house, in which he plans to retire.

The Philippines would be willing to cooperate with an extradition request, presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said Friday. Duterte, he said, will decide whether to keep Quiboloy, whom local press have reported to be the president’s spiritual adviser, in the position.

Duterte, who himself previously said he was sexually abused by a priest as a student, has yet to comment.

“The developments are just fresh,” Nograles said at a news conference. “Let’s allow President Duterte to speak on that.”

As of Friday afternoon local time, the Philippine Department of Justice had not received an extradition request from the United States for Quiboloy, Duterte’s close friend and ally, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara told The Post in a message.

The Kingdom of Jesus Christ was founded in 1985 in Davao City, Philippines, court records state. The church claimed to have about 6 million members in approximately 200 countries. Then, in 1998, court records add, the church founded the Children’s Joy Foundation.

Its mission was “to provide children in the Philippines with various residential services, medical, psychosocial, educational support and emergency assistance to harness their potential in community,” according to court records. It wasn’t until 2007 that the church began operating its foundation in the United States.

Quiboloy first ran the church from the Philippines, court records state. By 2018, he was regularly traveling to the United States to monitor the church’s operations, court records state. He allegedly stayed at large residences that he controlled, including homes in Calabasas, Calif., Las Vegas and Kapolei, Hawaii.

Prosecutors said Quiboloy began his illegal trafficking operation by ordering his administrators to bring church workers from the Philippines to the United States using fake visas. The workers were expected to stand outside businesses and ask for money for the supposed charity, court records state, when in reality, the collections were used to cover church finances and leaders’ fancy lifestyles.

The workers were also expected to meet daily cash quotas, records state. If the workers proved they could meet the quotas, the administrators would switch their paperwork from religious to student visas or arrange sham marriages so they could continue collecting cash year-round, prosecutors state.

Some workers were moved around the United States while being subjected to working long hours, often while sleeping in cars overnight, according to court documents.

The pastorals that Quiboloy’s administrators recruited for him were typically between 12 and 25 years old, court records add. Quiboloy and his co-conspirators, prosecutors said, forced pastorals into sex with the church leader by threatening to physically and verbally abuse them. If victims resisted the “night duty,” Quiboloy and his administrators would allegedly tell the victims they had the devil in them.

Those who attempted to leave the church or objected to “night duty,” prosecutors said, were abused by Quiboloy. Women or girls who communicated with other men were also allegedly punished by Quiboloy and told they were committing “adultery” and a “sin.”

Quiboloy sometimes rewarded victims with trips to Disneyland, flights in private jets, luxurious hotel rooms, cellphone use and yearly payments church officials called “honorariums,” records state. Those rewards, prosecutors said, were paid for with money collected by church members.

Federal authorities arrested Salinas, who lives in Hawaii, on Thursday. Quiboloy and Dandan are presumed to be in the Philippines. Salinas was expected to appear in front of a judge on Thursday, prosecutors said.


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