More women may have been sexually assaulted by a Rabun County couple, who established a religious cult on a remote compound in the north Georgia woods, investigators say.
Self-proclaimed prophet Albert Tony Walker, 62, and his wife, Dalene, 50, at one time had 50 people living with them on a 17-acre tract of land in the Chattahoochee National Forest near Clayton, prosecutors said Wednesday. The Walkers are accused of raping two women who lived with them over a period of several years in the 1990s.
Walker allegedly saw himself as a prophet, and drew upon some Christian beliefs.
“He saw himself as the Third Testament,” said Assistant District Attorney Penny Crowder, of the Mountain Judicial District in Rabun County. “There was God and Jesus, and then there is him.”
Authorities said devotees of “The Church,” as the religious organization was called, lived off Plum Orchard Road in a primary residence and several smaller outbuildings. They eschewed any reliance on the outside world, even public utilities. They grew produce, maintained livestock and used their own primitive light and heat sources, said Capt. Gerald Johnson of the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office.
Crowder said Walker admired other cult leaders like David Koresh because of the control he had over followers at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Walker ruled his own flock with fear and physical violence, Crowder said. Followers were reportedly directed to participate in “end-of-days” drills in which they would hide in underground shelters whenever someone – particularly government officials — came onto the property.
“He did have control over these people and they were fearful of what he would do,” Crowder said. “He had told these women that they couldn’t hide from him because God would always tell him where they were.”
The victims told investigators Walker dictated what relationships and marriages were formed among his followers, and that some childbirths within the sect were never recorded. Walker is rumored to have fathered 17 children by six different women, but investigators said Wednesday they have been able to confirm that information.
By the time they were arrested, the Walkers had moved in with a daughter and son-in-law who reside in Duluth. It was unclear how long ago their compound in Rabun County fizzled out. The Walkers’ defense attorney, Merlinus Monroe, said Wednesday that his clients are “of a particular religious persuasion” and acknowledged that was how the couple became acquainted with the alleged victims. He disputed the notion that the Walkers founded a cult.
“There are many sides to every story and there are certainly many sides to this story,” Monroe said.
Dalene Walker was released from jail last week on $30,000 bond. Tony Walker, who goes by his middle name, is being held without bond at the Rabun County Detention Center awaiting grand jury indictments.