Woman recounts story of rape, abuse by Yusef Bey

August 2, 2012 7:24:30 PM PDT
It was five years ago that veteran Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey was shot and killed while walking to work in downtown Oakland. He was writing a story about the finances at a popular North Oakland business, "Your Black Muslim Bakery," for the Oakland Post newspaper. The bakery's owner, Yusef Bey IV, and several other employees were later arrested and convicted for Bailey's murder.

We are also learning more about Bey IV's father, Yusef Bey Sr. He died in 2003. But a woman, known only as "Jane Doe 1" in court records, has come forward to tell her story of rape and abuse by the elder Bey.

The woman that was the subject of systematic abuse by the man that Bailey was investigating, is using the anniversary of the journalist's death to speak out. She spoke with our media partner California Watch, a non-partisan project of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR).

"The first time it happened to me I was eight," Banks said. "I was in the bank room with one of the wives. He came back there, motioned for me to come to him and when I went to him, he started molesting me."

Kowana Banks, 44, is exposing the dark side of a once prominent man, Yusef Bey, the charismatic founder of "Your Black Muslim Bakery." In it, she paints a very different picture of the man, than anyone ever knew.

"The word on the street was, you know, if you're down and out and you're black and you know, you need a place to go, the bakery is there," Banks said.

Bey founded the company in 1971 and used its profile and popularity to get other African Americans excited about business ownership. Anna has lived in the East Bay all of her life and remembers the bakery and its popularity, "It was part of creating a neighborhood that had businesses owned by African Americans, serving an African American community at a time when there wasn't a lot of that happening."

Banks says Bey was a dynamic speaker and would use that skill to deceive his followers and people in the community. She would later get the courage to run and find help. Her testimony lead to criminal charges being filed against Bey. She told police that the prominent businessman had fathered three of her children, getting her pregnant the first time when she was only 12.

In 1988, when she was 20, Banks escaped the bakery with her children and says she confronted her abuser on the phone, "I said, I'm gonna tell you something I'm sure no one else has told you. And he said, oh really, what is that? I said that you, sir, are a rapist and a child molester and let me tell you what I'm gonna do to you first. First, I'm going to the police and I'm going to press charges against you."

The now defunct bakery sits in an area of North Oakland known as "Paradise Park." The signs have faded, but the memories have not. Under the pseudonym Jane Doe, Banks was able to prove with DNA evidence that her children were fathered by Bey, "Nothing happened to him," said Banks. "Yusef Bey lived a very good life until the day he died."

Bey died in the hospital before facing trial. Court records reveal that Bey fathered at least 40 children and called up to 100 women his wives.

Banks is a born again Christian, has been married 18 years, and has become an advocate for children who have been abused. She is now also writing a book and use the proceeds to help those who have been abused.


Load Comments