Eligio Bishop rape trial: Deliberations begin for accused cult leader

The jury that will decide Eligio Bishop’s fate in his rape trial was officially handed the case around 6:15 Thursday night, but a short time later the jurors decided to head home for the day.

Bishop is the leader of the alleged cult Carbon Nation. Prosecutors say he raped a former group member as she tried to escape and then posted revenge porn online.

Closing arguments in accused cult leader rape trial

Prosecutors and Bishop’s defense attorney used their closing arguments to sway the jury in their favor.

"If he forced her to consent because he threatened her, that is not consent," said Senior DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney Tauti Thomas.

"He did not rape her, he is not guilty of that," said Bishop’s defense attorney, Robert Booker. "He did not falsely imprison her, I'm asking you to find him not guilty of that. He did not post revenge porn."

The jury will be back Friday morning to continue deliberations.

Witness goes off rails in Eligio Bishop rape trial

The closing arguments came just hours after the trial was briefly interrupted as testimony from a member of Bishop’s group Carbon Nation went off the rails. The judge repeatedly told the witness to watch what he said.

"Mr. Bishop is being maliciously prosecuted," Juliano Diaz said while on the stand.

The judge responded, "he just lost his right to stay in the courtroom."

During the trial, the alleged victim talked about the group’s online presence, but defense witnesses said everything they did online was for views. One of the ways prosecutors say they did that is to slap each other. A member of the group testified that idea came from the Will Smith – Chris Rock incident, but prosecutors pointed out it happened after the alleged rape.

"You realize the Chris Rock slap was March 27, 2022," Thomas asked.

"I am not aware of that," said Porchae Wade, one of the defense’s witnesses.

"So, it was after the incident occurred," Thomas replied.

Eligio Bishop doesn't want to be in courtroom for rape trial because of COVID

The rape trial of accused cult leader Eligio Bishop resumed in DeKalb County on Thursday after a day-and-a-half break due to a positive COVID diagnosis.

On Tuesday, Judge Stacey Hydrick declared that Bishop's trial would be briefly paused after someone associated with the case had tested positive for the virus.

The news prompted concern from Bishop, who expressed worries about the risk of getting sick and fears that he was being "railroaded."

"My client is standing on his objection as far as going forward to trial. He is concerned for his health. He's indicated to me that he does not want to be in a courtroom where someone who has tested positive for COVID within the last five days is at," defense attorney Robert Booker told the court on Thursday.

As the trial resumed, Bishop opted to go back to the DeKalb County Jail and watch the testimony remotely.

"I want him here. Everybody else is here.  Everybody else is fine.  Jurors are here ready to go. Attorneys are here ready to go. The only person who has a problem is Mr. Bishop," DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Stacey Hydrick said. 


Before Bishop chose to leave, Hydrick made it clear that it was his decision and that it would be difficult for him to participate in his own defense.

"It’s going to be a lot more difficult for you to communicate with your attorney. You understand that?" She asked Bishop. When he responded that he did not, she told him, "Your attorney can explain it to you."

After a delay of nearly two hours, Booker began presenting evidence and put the woman who accused Bishop of rape back on the stand.

Booker asked the woman about an interview she did after the alleged incident and how she didn't initially call what happened rape.

Once her testimony was wrapped up, the defense called a member of Bishop's organization, Carobon Nation, to the stand to talk about the inner workings of the group.

While there is a possibility Bishop may testify, he told Judge Hydrick that he was not sure if he would.

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.


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.


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)

"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.