National News

Spiritual Leader Raped 2 Women During Ceremonies, Prosecutors Say

Posted October 10, 2018 7:28 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK — A 42-year-old woman went to a Brooklyn apartment in August 2016 to meet a self-described spiritual leader for what she thought was a “church ceremony.” She had met him at a religious goods store.

During the ceremony, the man, Nigel Kennedy, started chanting and poured a drink that tasted like alcohol into the woman’s mouth, prosecutors said. She passed out briefly, then regained consciousness and felt someone on top of her. The next morning she awoke naked on an unfamiliar bed, feeling nauseous and dizzy, and realized she had been raped, prosecutors said.

Kennedy, 51, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn to charges of rape and sexual abuse. He is accused of drugging and raping two women in Brooklyn during separate religious ceremonies two years apart, and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top charge. Justice William Miller set Kennedy’s bail at $35,000, which he posted.

“This defendant is a sexual predator who used his religious stature to lure women, then drugged and raped them,” the Brooklyn district attorney, Eric Gonzalez, said in a statement.

The most recent attack was in May, prosecutors said, when Kennedy held another “spiritual reading” for a 28-year-old woman in his home in East Flatbush. After blowing smoke in her face, he poured a liquid that tasted like alcohol into her mouth; she threw up, but he forced her to drink the liquid again, prosecutors said, and she later lost consciousness. When she woke, Kennedy was having sex with her, prosecutors said. She told him to stop, but he told her, “relax, it’s part of the ritual.”

Reached by telephone, Kennedy declined to comment on the allegations Wednesday afternoon. The telephone number is linked through records to the Psychic Kaballah Network. On its website, the business offers the assistance of a “proven international famed Kaballah master” who uses “mystical magic” to help people achieve their desires.

A voicemail message greeting for the business suggested that the business offered “prayer, deliverance” and “spiritual cleansing or healing.”

Among the services listed on the Psychic Kaballah Network’s site are spiritual readings, predictions for the future, protection and casting away of evil spirits, and help to “resolve court cases victoriously.”

The Psychic Kaballah Network’s site claims the business operates with “certified psychics.” It also offers spells — described as being so effective at getting even with enemies that customers shouldn’t request them unless “absolutely necessary” — and magical objects that can protect against harm.

Kennedy previously owned a storefront religious goods shop in East Flatbush that no longer operates, the district attorney’s office said. He met both women there.

The women sought medical attention soon after the alleged attacks and forensic evidence was collected, prosecutors said. The second victim later identified Kennedy as her attacker, and he was arrested in early September after flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport from Trinidad.

A grand jury handed up the 13-count indictment on Sept. 20, charging him with first- and third-degree rape and first- and second-degree sexual abuse, prosecutors said. Kennedy has no prior arrests, a police spokesman said.