Oakland -- A prominent Muslim leader was jailed Thursday pending $1 million bail after being charged with sexually preying on young girls over a period of nearly 20 years.
Yusuf Bey's solemn face went slack as Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer increased the Oakland religious leader's bail twentyfold and ordered bailiffs to take him into custody.
Hymer's ruling came after Deputy District Attorney Teresa Ortega itemized a litany of charges that Bey raped and otherwise sexually abused four women for various periods of time between 1976 and 1995. Bey, 66, reportedly got to know the women through Oakland's Black Muslim Bakery and allegedly began his assaults on each before they were 14.
Investigators suspect there may be more women who Bey may have assaulted.
Bey stood mutely, his hands clasped in front of him, as Hymer arraigned him on the 27 felony sex crime counts Ortega presented in paperwork amending the original charges in the case.
Bey is accused of using "force, violence, duress, menace" or fear of bodily injury to commit lewd or lascivious acts on girls under 14 and to rape them when they were older.
If convicted as charged, Bey could be sentenced to life in prison. Ortega urged Hymer to rescind Bey's original bail of $50,000 or raise it to the $1.6 million figure recommended by state law.
"The defendant is looking at a life top punish- ment, and that is a serious motive to flee," Ortegaargued. "Each victim is extremely afraid. ...Fear of retaliation against these and other potential victims calls for the statutory bail amounts."
Bey's lawyer, Andrew Dosa of Alameda, contended Bey's record of attending court hearings while free on bail indicated he would continue to faithfully appear. Dosa asked Hymer to increase bail only slightly, if at all.
"There is no flight risk," Dosa averred. "He is not seeking to run from the charges filed."
Hymer acknowledged Bey's ties to the community and his appearances for hearings, but said the severity of the criminal charges and the potential life prison sentence warranted increasing bail to $1 million.
Dosa told Hymer bail was being arranged and asked the judge to schedule a hearing for the next morning to expedite Bey's release on bond. Hymer refused Dosa's request and ordered Bey returned to his courtroom Thursday. Dosa declined to enter pleas to the charges, telling the judge he wished to discuss Ortega's amended complaint with Bey first.
A group of men in matching black suits and red bow ties surged toward the gallery rail as sheriff's deputies led Bey to a side door reserved for prisoners. They were part of the Nation of Islam entourage that ushered Bey into Hymer's courtroom that afternoon.
Bey, who wore a dark suit and gray-and-black fez, glanced back before walking from the room ahead of the deputies. The men who had shielded Bey from strangers and reporters a short time earlier stopped at the rail and exchanged looks of apparent disbelief.
Dosa declined to speak with news reporters as he left with Bey's entourage.
Bey had surrendered to police in September after genetic testing determined he was the father of a boy born in 1982 to a girl who was 13 at the time. Bey went on to father two other children with her, according to police.
He was charged with felony lewd conduct with a girl under 14 and maintained his innocence during a hearing before Hymer last month.
The woman in that case is 34 and lives in another city. She has obtained a temporary restraining order against Bey having anything to do with her or certain members of her family.
Bey told the woman's son, Yusuf Bey V, that she "could wind up floating in the river," the woman contended in a written request for the restraining order. The woman, whose name was withheld because of the nature of the case, described being 10 years old and a foster child in the care of Bey and his wife, Nora, when Bey began sexually abusing her.
"He threatened to kill me if I told anybody," she charged in her statement. "He also beat me with his hands and other objects."
The woman contends in court documents that Bey also raped her sister, who is a year older. Her sister bore Bey two children before she turned 18, the woman asserts.
Bey took and spent welfare money meant for the children, according to her statement.
He resigned last month from his position as vice president of Black Men First, a community organization devoted to improving the lives of African-American men. His birth name was reportedly Joseph Stevens, and he is said to have operated a beauty salon in Santa Barbara before reinventing himself in Oakland.
Bey preaches on a paid program aired by Soul Beat TV. In sermons, he urges men to shun drugs, crime and unprotected sex.