14 Apr 2011

Sister of sect leader 'Holy Ghost' waiting trial for raping daughter says he also raped her

Deseret News  -  Utah     April 13, 2011

Sister of ‘Holy Ghost’ says sect leader raped her, too

By John Hollenhorst, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The leader of a small religious group, already facing charges for allegedly raping his teenage daughter in the name of God, is now being accused by his own sister.

The woman says he also coerced her into having sex by taking advantage of her mental depression and her struggle to find religious answers.

Terrill Dalton has proclaimed himself to be the Holy Ghost and the father of Jesus. "From the Lord I've been told, 'Yes, that's who I am,'" Dalton said in a 2009 interview. Along with Geody Harman, Dalton leads a small group called The Church of the Firstborn and the General Assembly of Heaven.

Last year, Dalton's daughter accused both men of rape, at her father's command, when she was 15. They're now in the Salt Lake County Jail, awaiting court action. Terrill Dalton faces a preliminary hearing Thursday and Harman will be in court for a scheduling hearing Friday.

Cynthia Dalton's charges date back to 2005 when members of the group were living in a Magna duplex. In an interview last year, Cynthia Dalton said her father used religion as a justification for the sex acts, first with Harman and later with Dalton himself. "And he's like, 'The Lord says, me and you need to have sex,'" she recalled her father saying. "'We need to have sex three times.'"

Dalton's sister has come forward with a similar story, reflecting her own search for religious meaning and her ultimate disillusionment with her brother's preaching. Linda Dalton is now 41 years old and living in Grand Junction, Colo. She said her brother coerced her into having sex with him in 2005 when she was 35 and he was 38.

"I never really understood until recently how sick my brother really was," Linda Dalton said.

She said her older brother began identifying himself as a religious leader and as the Holy Ghost in 2002. He lured her into his cult with promises of financial support that never panned out.

"I was giving him money all of the time and he was living like a king," Linda Dalton said. "And every single one of his members were living like crap."

Linda Dalton lived in the group's Magna duplex, she said, "struggling to understand what God wanted."

"He used what we wanted to do for God, for him," she said. "And he coerced us into believing that (what he wanted) was what God wanted us to do."

She said she had a long history of severe depression and her brother used his knowledge of that to coerce her.

"He used my depression," Linda Dalton said. "He told me that if I did this thing, it would cure me. And I would have no more depression problem. He told me if I didn't, that meant that I didn't have enough faith in God. Because this is what God wanted."

She said she did what Dalton wanted and had sex with him, an act she now considers a rape because she felt coerced. Later, at her brother's urging, she became a plural wife of Geody Harman. Nevertheless, her brother eventually kicked her out of the group.

"What was so funny," she said, "I was like just praying to God, 'Please get me out of here' at the end."

Although Terrill Dalton claimed two years ago that he had about 40 followers, it's not clear how many are still loyal to him. At that time, many members of the group moved to Idaho. Later, though, Terrill Dalton and Harman moved their families separately to Montana. That's where the two leaders were arrested last August and brought back to Utah on the rape charges.

Terrill Dalton has not responded to a request for comment conveyed to him through his attorney.

This article was found at:


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  1. Holy Ghost Religious leader charged with raping teen

    by Aaron Vaughn, Fox 13 Now March 20, 2012

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man who founded a Christian church over a decade ago is now being accused of raping a 15-year-old girl.

    Terrill Dalton, 45, founded the Holy Ghost Church of the First Born of Heaven. He later moved his church across three states before being arrested in Montana.

    Prosecutors say the alleged victim claims Dalton told her he received a revelation from God telling him to have sex with her so she would be “blessed.” She also says Dalton claims to be the Holy Ghost and forced her to have sex with the first counsel of the church to “seal” the blessing.

    “She certainly believed that and was led into a sexual relationship not only with the president of this church but also their first counsel who was part of this organization,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

    The Holy Ghost of the Church of the First Born of the General Assembly of Heaven was founded by Dalton in 2004. The small group started in Magna and grew to about 100 members. They moved to the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho where they wore out their welcome and left for greener pastures in Montana. That is where U.S. Marshalls arrested Dalton and his first counsel Geody Harman in 2010.

    “These are very serious offenses and rightfully so and the potential on this is up to life in prison,” says Gill.

    Dalton was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for two counts of first degree felony rape. Harman is also charged with rape, but was released after he posted bail. Prosecutors have struck a plea deal with him in exchange for his testimony during trial.

    Harman claims he was the “Oracle” of the church and dalton would transcribe and interpret the revelations.

    “He [Dalton] had an impression from God, which directed him to have sexual intercourse and relations with this 15-year-old minor and therefore, this child would be blessed as a result of that,” said Gill.

    Harman not only testified against Dalton, but admitted to having sex with the same teen. However, Harmon’s faith within the church had him lie to police because “the act of giving seed of the physical body was only to be shared to those sealed under celestial light.”

    “He’s talking about celestial and terrestrial … it seemed a little delusional,” said Dalton’s defense attorney Rudy Bautista.

    Bautista says his client is innocent and the alleged victim, who is now 22, is not telling the truth.

    “We plan to introduce evidence tomorrow [Wednesday] that she told her sister that the reason why she’s doing this is to get Terrill’s money so she can use it to buy drugs and other things,” said Bautista.

    The alleged victim will be testifying Wednesday. The trial is expected to last through Thursday.
    If convicted, Dalton could spend up to life in prison for the two felony rape charges.

    Harman is expected to plead guilty to the charge of unlawful sex with a minor as part of his plea deal. The third-degree felony carries a maximum of five years in prison


  2. Sect leader Holy Ghost convicted of raping daughter

    By Emiley Morgan , Deseret News March 22 2012
    SALT LAKE CITY — After about five hours of deliberation, a jury Thursday found a leader of a religious sect guilty of raping his daughter and allowing his friend to rape her as well. Terrill Dalton, 45, who used the name the "Holy Ghost," was convicted of two counts of rape, a first-degree felony.

    Defense attorney Rudy Bautista said jurors were emotional, and one was crying as they announced the verdict. He said he plans to appeal the verdict.

    Prosecutors say Dalton condoned an "impression" that Geody Harman, 38, said he had received indicating that he needed to have sex with the then-15-year-old girl. Both Dalton and Harman were leaders of a small religious group called the Church of the First Born and the General Assembly of Heaven.

    Dalton called himself the "Holy Ghost" while Harman was often referred to as "God in the flesh." In a prior hearing, Dalton's daughter testified that she was promised she would receive blessings if she had sex with the two men and felt extreme pressure from her father and those in his church to comply.

    "I didn't know what to believe," Cynthia Dalton testified. "That church was everything I knew."
    She has also spoken publicly to the media about the alleged rape.

    Following two days of evidence, prosecutor Tupakk Renteria asked the jury Thursday to convict Terrill Dalton on both counts of rape. He stated Dalton was not on trial for his unconventional religion, but for raping his own child.

    "She was raped at 15 years old by a person who should have protected her," Renteria said. "Instead of protecting her, he served her up on a silver platter. … In raping her, he manipulated her. He used religion, said this is what God wanted."

    As evidence of Dalton's guilt, Renteria recounted testimony from a number of witnesses, including another daughter of Dalton and the man's sister. Both women said Dalton made sexual advances toward them. 

    "He knew how to prey on weak individuals," Renteria said. "Individuals who were depressed, individuals who were young."

    But Bautista said there were "just too many problems" with the evidence because it was largely a "he said, she said case." "There is no physical evidence," Bautista said. "What we're dealing with is people who have motivations and biases." 

    Saying the details would make or break the case, Bautista called into question the testimonies and motives of many witnesses, including Harman. He especially focused on Cynthia Dalton.

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    "When someone's story keeps changing, there's a reason," he said, questioning why the woman couldn't remember certain details. "That reason is that they can't remember the lie they told."
    The Church of the First Born and the General Assembly of Heaven was based in Magna at the time of the alleged rape — September of 2005 — but later moved to Idaho and Montana, where Dalton and Harman were arrested. Dalton's daughter said previously they were living in Magna when she was told about Harman's "impression."

    The then-teenager ultimately had sexual intercourse with Harman and soon after, said her father told her that she needed to have intercourse three times with him. She said it happened once and only because she was scared, "didn't know how to get out of it" and was hoping for the blessings she was promised.

    Not long after the alleged incidents, Cynthia Dalton left home, testifying she never received the blessings she was promised and that her life then went "downhill."

    Harman was also charged with rape, a first-degree felony. He has twice testified against Dalton and, in exchange for his testimony, will be allowed to plead guilty to a reduced count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, a third-degree felony. Dalton will be sentenced May 11.


  4. Sect leader pleads guilty in rape case

    By Emiley Morgan ksl.com April 14th, 2012

    SALT LAKE CITY — A man accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl because he received an "impression" to do so, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Friday.

    Geody Harman, 38, pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual activity with a minor, a third-degree felony, as part of a plea bargain. He was originally charged with rape, a first-degree felony.

    As part of the plea deal, he'll likely be sentenced to three years of probation and will be allowed to reside in the home he shares with his minor children. Sentencing is scheduled for June 8.

    Prosecutor Alicia Cook noted that Harman was offered a deal because he cooperated in the case against Terrill Dalton, 45, who was convicted by a jury of two counts of rape, a first-degree felony, in connection with sexual activity involving the same girl — Dalton's daughter, Cynthia.

    Both Dalton and Harman were leaders of a small religious group called the Church of the First Born and the General Assembly of Heaven. Dalton called himself the "Holy Ghost" while Harman was often referred to as "God in the flesh."

    The group was based in Magna at the time of the alleged rape, but later moved to Idaho and Montana, where the men were arrested. Cynthia Dalton testified she was living in Magna with her father and stepmother when her father told her he had an impression that she needed to have sex with Harman and that she would receive "a great blessing" for doing so.

    Harman said he initially told Dalton about the impression he had involving sex with Dalton's daughter, but it was Dalton who told the then-teenager. Harman was 17 years older than the girl at the time.

    Cynthia Dalton — who has spoken publicly to the media about the rape — repeatedly said she felt "extreme pressure" from her father and others in the church to comply with his commands. She said she had been taught to do everything her father told her to do and was lectured, reprimanded and sometimes beaten if she didn't obey.

    Dalton was found guilty of rape for both having sex with his daughter and for being a party to the sexual conduct involving Harman. Dalton will be sentenced May 11.

    A pre-sentence report is being prepared in Harman's case and should address whether any sex offender treatment will be recommended as part of his sentence.


  5. Defendant in Holy Ghost rape case going to prison

    By Aaron Falk, The Salt Lake Tribune May 11, 2012

    The leader of a religious sect once based in Magna has been sentenced to six years to life for raping a teenage member of his congregation.

    In 2005, Terrill Dalton told the 15-year-old girl he was "the Holy Ghost" and promised her "great blessings" if she had sex with him, according to testimony and court documents. Dalton also told the teen it was God’s will that she have sex with his second in command, 38-year-old Geody Harman.

    On Friday, 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton sentenced the 45-year-old Dalton to consecutive terms of three years to life.

    Dalton was convicted by a jury in March of two first-degree felony counts of rape.

    He was the president of the Church of the Firstborn of the General Assembly of Heaven, a sect with fewer than 100 members that later moved to Idaho before settling in Montana. Church members called him "God in the flesh," and prosecutors said Dalton "served [the victim] up on a platter" to Harman, his lieutenant.

    "[Dalton] made me feel as if no matter what I did, I could never be right before God," the victim, now 22, testified at trial in March. "I tried so hard. ... There was always something bigger he wanted me to do."

    Defense attorney Rudy Bautista said Dalton maintains his innocence. Bautista said he plans to appeal the case on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired before charges were filed.

    The defense attorney also said he believes Dalton should be screened for mental health issues.

    "He says he was receiving communication and scriptures that if you and I read them, they wouldn’t make any sense," Bautista said. "It’s something that should be looked at."

    Harman has pleaded guilty to third-degree felony unlawful sex with a minor. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month. Because of his cooperation in the case, prosecutors will recommend the man not serve any jail time.