Expert, former cult member testify in DeKalb County trial of alleged cult leader accused of rape

A witness who specializes in the study of cults testified Friday in the trial of an accused cult leader who allegedly raped a follower when she attempted to leave the group in 2022.

Eligio Bishop, 40, is also known as “Natureboy,” and leader of a group called the Carbon Nation.

He is accused of attacking a 22-year-old woman at a house in DeKalb County and posting sexually explicit videos online without the woman’s consent.

Channel 2 Action News has been following the case all week beginning with jury selection.

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Prosecution witness Rick Ross told jurors he has helped rescue hundreds of people from dangerous and destructive cults.

After studying online videos and teachings of Bishop, he testified the defendant had the characteristic traits of a domineering cult leader.

“His general lack of accountability, so I would say that fits the profile of a destructive cult leader,” said Ross.

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A defense lawyer questioned Ross’s qualifications as a cult expert, citing to jurors during cross-examination that he only has a high school education, nor any advanced degrees in psychiatry, psychology or sociology.

Jurors also heard from a former member of the cult. Courtney Townsend said he joined Bishop’s group when it was based at a compound in Mexico. He said what he first believed was a trip to paradise soon changed.

A prosecutor asked Townsend if folks in the group were able to say no to Mr. Bishop.

“The option was to leave or agree,” said Townsend.

“What would happen if someone upset or angered Mr. Bishop?” said the prosecutor.

“I would say there would be emotional abuse there,” said Townsend.

Bishop is charged with rape, false imprisonment and sharing sexually explicit electronic transmissions. He could face life in prison if convicted. He has turned down a plea agreement that would have reduced the charges against him.

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