Eligio Bishop rape trial recessed until Thursday after COVID diagnosis

Day 4 of the rape trial involving alleged cult leader Eligio Bishop took an unexpected turn at the DeKalb County Courthouse when it was announced that someone associated with the case had tested positive for COVID. 

Despite the diagnosis, Judge Stacey Hydrick declared that the trial would continue later in the week after a brief pause. 

The news prompted concern from Bishop, who expressed worries about the risk of getting sick. Bishop told the judge that he did not want to proceed with the trial.

Judge Hydrick assured Bishop that everyone involved in the trial had agreed to move forward. That's when Bishop raised additional concerns, saying he felt he wasn't being represented well and felt like he was being "railroaded."

In response, Judge Hydrick informed Bishop that he would not have to be present in the courtroom for the trial, but the proceedings would continue with or without him. 

"The COVID issue has been resolved," Judge Hydrick said. "The attorneys are fine going forward; the jurors are fine going forward."

Bishop continued to complain, saying he wanted to fire his attorney, Robert Booker. 

"Everybody is fine going forward, we have masking in place, we have provided you with a mask," Hydrick said. "COVID has been going on for four years folks, we got to figure out how to live with this."

Eligio Bishop asks to fire attorney in rape trial

Bishop's complaints did not stop there. In the middle of the trial, on day four, just as his attorney was about to present his side to the jury, he told the court he wanted a new attorney.

"I'd like to fire my attorney and not be in court," Eligio Bishop told the judge Tuesday.

"We’re not stopping the trial for you to get a new lawyer," said DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Stacey Hydrick. "That’s not how this works."

Judge Hydrick defended Bishop’s attorney, Robert Booker, saying he had been doing a great job on his behalf.

"You're trying everything you can to not go forward with this trial," Judge Hydrick said.

"Because I'm not being treated fairly," Bishop responded.

"You're entitled to your opinion, Mr. Bishop, I'm not going to argue with you, but we are moving forward with the trial," Judge Hydrick said.

The judge gave Bishop two options; represent himself or keep his attorney. Ultimately, they decided to move forward together. 

The trial has been recessed until Thursday. 

The prosecution rested its case on Monday after playing his interview with police for the jury.

Bishop’s full 45-minute interview with police was played for the jury. He denied the rape and posting revenge porn, saying he has proof he did not do anything wrong.


The jury also heard from a former member of the alleged cult Carbon Nation. She said Bishop, the group’s alleged leader, sexually assaulted her.

Former Carbon Nation cult member takes stand

Prosecutors called the victim to testify as the first witness.

"He grabs my hand and as he is taking me into the other room, I am crying out, ‘No,’" the victim testified Thursday.

The woman who says she was raped by Bishop detailed in court for the first time what she says happened in March 2022 when she tried to leave his alleged cult Carbon Nation for the third and final time.

"He basically was trying to convince me to sleep with him," the alleged victim said.

"How did you respond," the prosecutor asked,

"I said no," she responded.

The woman says her membership in the group started off fine, but eventually she noticed violent outbursts. When she wanted out, she says Bishop wanted to sleep with her one last time. She said she told him no repeatedly before finally relenting and saying "Okay".

"I wasn't able to go, I felt like I couldn't," the alleged victim testified. "I felt powerless."

During opening statements, prosecutors painted Bishop as a man who held all the power in the group, and he posted sexually explicit videos of her as an act of revenge for leaving. 

Eligio Bishop's attorney challenges rape charges

The defense vehemently denied the allegations, arguing that all interactions were consensual. They emphasized the importance of distinguishing between consensual relationships and rape, stating that the victim never initially characterized the incident as rape in her statements. During Bishop's preliminary hearing, his attorney described it as a "he said/she said" situation.

"You will hear again from the former members that this defendant had his choice of the women in the group, it was understood," said Michael Coveney, a Senior DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney. "Nobody said no to the king."

"She described making love, and we're all … are adults," said Robert L Booker, Bishop’s defense attorney. "There's a wide discrepancy from someone making love versus someone being raped."

The victim says during the alleged assault she felt powerless and had no choice.

"He said shut up, you're my (expletive), you're my property, you’re not going anywhere," the alleged victim testified.

The prosecution has started introducing sexually explicit videos that they say were posted without her consent. The victim calls those videos "humiliating."

As of now, the alleged victim's identity is being protected due to the sensitive nature of the sexual assault case. Bishop faces a potential life sentence without the possibility of parole. 

Cult expert takes stand in Eligio Bishop rape case

Witness testimony continued Friday in the rape trial of Eligio Bishop, an alleged cult leader facing charges of sexual assault. The prosecution called an expert witness to the stand, shedding light on cult dynamics and Bishop's alleged involvement in the group known as Carbon Nation.

Rick Allen Ross, founder and director of the Cult Education Institute, testified that he has spent decades dealing with cults and conducting interventions with members. Ross, who has researched and followed Bishop's alleged cult for a number of years, described Bishop as fitting the profile of a destructive authoritarian leader.

"In my opinion, Eligio Bishop fits the profile of a destructive authoritarian leader, and there are patterns of coercive persuasion to gain undue influence that have been reported by people under his influence and families affected by him," Ross stated during his testimony.

The prosecution has focused on the power dynamic within Carbon Nation, alleging that Bishop held all the power as the self-proclaimed king of the group. The victim claims that the alleged sexual assault occurred while she was a member attempting to leave the cult.

Video shows Eligio Bishop's views on women, prosecutors say

Friday, prosecutors showed jurors two expletive filled videos that they say show his views on women.

"All of you (expletive) belong to the three, and I will have my way with you as I see fit," Bishop could be seen saying in the video. "If any of you disrespect me, into the abyss you go."

Several former members of the alleged cult took the stand Friday and detailed what it was like to be a member of the group with Bishop as top dog.

"There was never a time where I felt like it was my choice to have sex with Mr. Bishop," a former member said on the stand. "It always felt like something I had to do."

Another former member testified that it can be "hell on wheels" to leave the group. He says the day the victim claims she was raped, he was not aware it happened, but afterward he says he was involved in posting videos about her. Prosecutors say at least some of the videos posted are revenge porn.

"We collectively worked on videos to throw dirt on (victim’s name removed for privacy) and make her seem crazy," said Courtney Townsend, a former member.

Prosecution rests in Eligio Bishop rape case

After three full days of testimony, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office rested its case Monday night in the rape trial of an accused cult leader.

Prosecutors accused Eligio Bishop of assaulting a woman who tried to leave his group Carbon Nation.

On Monday, prosecutors played his interview with police, and jurors heard from a woman who claimed she was also raped by him.

"The door was closed, and then he came onto me," a former member of the alleged cult Carbon Nation testified Monday.

The woman, who we are not identifying, did not hold back. She said Bishop, the group’s alleged leader, sexually assaulted her.

"He made one of his wives leave the room, and from there it led to him raping me," she said.

The woman said she felt like she could not say no to Bishop because he was the group’s leader. He is not on trial for this alleged attack, but prosecutors had the woman testify to show jurors Bishop had done this to other members of the group, too.

"There was a moment after it happened that I went to the bathroom because I was in pain and bleeding," the woman said.

Alleged cult leader Eligio Bishop denies raping Carbon Nation members

Bishop has repeatedly denied raping anyone, including during an interview with DeKalb County detectives investigating the case he is on trial for.

"Why would I rape someone? I got five women," Bishop told investigators in 2022. "Why would I rape a girl? I am a lady’s man."

Bishop’s full 45-minute interview with police was played for the jury. He denied the rape and posting revenge porn, saying he has proof he did not do anything wrong.

"We’re not saying she didn’t consent before then," a police detective said to Bishop. "You could say, ‘Consent, consent, consent,’ and then, ‘Stop.’"

"I would never jeopardize my career," Bishop responded.

During the interview, Bishop said he knows he is a controversial figure, but that does not mean he should have his character attacked.

"Someone could say that I raped them, and just because I have a bad image online, I go to jail?" he asked during the interview. "That’s crazy."

Who is Eligio Bishop, "Natureboy," "3God?"

Eligio Bishop, the 41-year-old leader of the suspected cult Carbon Nation who goes by "Natureboy" and "3God," is facing charges of rape, false imprisonment, and prohibition on sexually explicit transmissions.

Bishop has been in custody in DeKalb County since 2022, when he was arrested in April after a former member of his organization went to the police.

The woman recently left the group and told police how Bishop mistreated women.

Jury selection and a motions hearing were set to begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday in DeKalb County Superior Court.


Eligio Bishop was arrested at a home on Arbor Chase in Decatur on April 13, 2022.

Eligio Bishop was arrested at a home on Arbor Chase in Decatur on April 13, 2022. (DeKalb County Sheriff's Office)

Carbon Nation leader accused of abuse, revenge porn

During a hearing a month after his arrest, DeKalb County Police Detective Monica Panosian testified that a woman, who FOX 5 Atlanta is referring to as "AV," reported to investigators on March 30 that she had recently left Bishop's cult and that he had posted multiple videos of them having sex on Twitter without her consent.


"She stated Mr. Bishop is doing revenge porn on her because she left him," said Panosian.

AV told police Bishop had ordered other women in the group to hit her because she "made a face" at him. The woman then told Bishop she wanted to leave, and he told her to pack her things while the other women screamed at her.

As she waited for a rideshare driver to pick her up, AV told investigators Bishop asked her to come say goodbye to him.

"He began to tell her how she was his b**** and that she was no longer allowed to leave," said Det. Panosian. "She stated she began to essentially beg him to leave and began to cry. She stated Mr. Bishop then began to attempt to have sex with her. She told him no and he continued."

The woman waited until the morning when most of the other people in the house were asleep and snuck out, according to police.

Panosian said AV changed her phone number and ceased all contact with the cult. Three days after she left, police said the woman discovered the videos and called police.

Former member reflects on time with Carbon Nation

A former member of Carbon Nation told FOX 5 in 2022 that the group started out as a Black counterculture group. The woman, who was with the group for a year, said it began with a shared common goal but turned into something else entirely.

"It's a cult. It's definitely a cult," said Erikka Carroll.

Carroll said she joined the group around 2016 and that it was a positive experience at first.

"Initially, it was a great experience. It was a community of people all with the same goal but when that goal started to change, that's when it became toxic," she said.

Carroll said things started to change when the group moved to Honduras, and it turned from a community-centric group to one that revolved more around its leader.

"It was a lot of mental and verbal abuse. It was only physical abuse with him and his wives. It wasn't a point where he beat us," said Carroll.

Carroll said it was shortly after that time that Bishop went from the moniker "Natureboy" to his followers calling him "3God."

Erikka Carroll shared this photo of her time with Carbon Nation. She is seen next to Eligio Bishop in the photo.

Erikka Carroll shared this photo of her time with Carbon Nation. She is seen next to Eligio Bishop in the photo. (Erikka Carroll)

She now believes Bishop is someone who is brainwashing and mistreating women who trust him.

"He is someone that needs to be locked up, either in jail or in a mental asylum," Carroll said.

Carbon Nation members defend Eligio Bishop

"The Black man is God," one follower said days after Eligio Bishop's arrest. "And y'all just locked up the Messiah."

The members of Carbon National said the group focuses on positivity and called Bishop a healer of oppressed Black men and women.

"The accusations that are being brought up against 3God are false, because women, they come here on their own will," said Kayla Buckner, a Carbon Nation member.

"3God is a very caring being, a very loving being, he’s very caring, he’s very holy," one of his followers told FOX 5.

Members of the Carbon Nation refer to Eligio Bishop as "3God" during an interview on April 14, 2022.

Members of the Carbon Nation refer to Eligio Bishop as "3God" during an interview on April 14, 2022. (FOX 5)

Standing outside the DeKalb County home the day after the raid, the group denied that anyone was or is being held against their will.

"This is a revolving door, you can come in and out as you please, no one is being…no one is going to hold you against your will here," said Buckner.

Members said everything sexually took place among adults and was consensual. They said several women come and go from the organization because they don’t necessarily like what they learn about themselves.

Supporters of Bishop said his arrest was just another organized attack against him.

A painting of Eligio Bishop adorns a shelf inside his rented home in Decatur. DeKalb County police raid that home and arrested Bishop on April 13, 2022.

A painting of Eligio Bishop adorns a shelf inside his rented home in Decatur. DeKalb County police raid that home and arrested Bishop on April 13, 2022. (FOX 5)

What does Caron Nation believe?

Bishop has a heavy social media footprint having made online music videos and life coaching tapes as well as soliciting donations. The group showed some of the nonsexual videos posted by Bishop to FOX 5 after being invited into his home on Thursday.

Despite being an American citizen and Atlanta native, he took his Carbon Nation group to Central and South America to try to create what they call a more ideal community.

Members of Carbon Nation came out to support their leader Eligio Bishop on April 14, 2022.

Members of Carbon Nation came out to support their leader Eligio Bishop on April 14, 2022. (FOX 5)

Carbon Nation members said they follow a vegan diet and believe — among other things — that all people are different shades of brown. 

"We had gone back to indigenous living and our true roles as men and women and some people, women come here, they don't get their way, and they go against the Black man, they do false allegations," said Buckner.

"We teach about sexuality, religion, and these are thing that as people are very defined and in confined in our belief systems," said Armstead.

Current members maintain the goal of the group has not changed.

"Our life is a matter of helping humanity and healing the Black man and woman and healing us from our traumas and our evil ways of white supremacy," Buckner said.

But for every positive thing mentioned online or by a member of the group, there appears to be at least two negative criticisms online.

According to critics of the group, followers are asked to live as part of a commune-style "family" being asked to surrender their money and possessions. Those same critics have said once members are part of the group, they are not allowed to leave. A quick search of the internet will reveal reports on at least two such members. That is something current members deny.

Critics have said the group now appears to be a cult.

"The first time I heard that, I thought it was kind of cool," Bishop told the Associated Press in 2020. "Me? A black man, a cult leader? I’m from the hood."

Eligio Bishop

Eligio Bishop ( Hawaii Police Department)

Bishop in the same interview expressed how his group has been misunderstood everywhere they have gone, including Costa Rica, which they were forced to leave in 2017.

"We’re a group of African Americans that are protesting our conditions by leaving them," he said. "They just make us look crazy on the internet."

The group has not only been thrown out of Costa Rica but was also asked to leave Nicaragua and Panama, according to reports.

Bishop and several members of the group were arrested back in June 2020 for violating Hawaii’s quarantine policy. They were eventually sent back to California.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.