Religious leader sentenced for 1980s child deaths

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A woman who once ran a Florida religious group described as a cult by prosecutors has been sentenced for the 1980s deaths of two young children.

Anna Young, 79, was sentenced Wednesday after pleading no contest to second-degree murder and negligent manslaughter, according to Alachua County court records. She received 30 years for the murder conviction, which will run concurrently with 15 years for manslaughter.

Young operated the House of Prayer cult near Gainesville in the 1980s and 1990s, officials said.

Young caused the death of a toddler named Emon Harper sometime between 1988 and 1989 through abuse and starvation, prosecutors said.

Young was arrested in 2017 after her daughter told authorities about Emon’s death and other abuses at the House of Prayer, the Gainesville Sun reported. Several former members confirmed the child’s death, though no body was ever recovered.

Earlier this week, prosecutors added the manslaughter charge for the death of Katonya Jackson, who died in 1983 after being denied medication, officials said.

Young was previously convicted of child abuse in 2001, records show. She bathed a child in a mixture of bubble bath and a laundry detergent with bleach in 1992, officials said. It caused severe burns, which Young treated with herbal creams.

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