Four people have been charged after former members of a North Carolina-based religious group complained that a minister forced children to work in his fish markets for little or no money, authorities said.
John McCollum, 67, and three women who worked for him were arrested in December, The Fayetteville Observer reported . Six others were being sought.
McCollum faces charges including involuntary servitude of children, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said. Arrest warrants list 16 children and young adults as victims. The sheriff's office said it believes more were involved.
Investigators say McCollum threatened the children with violence or loss of their food if they refused to work.
McCollum, who is jailed on a $1.1 million bond, told authorities he doesn't think he committed any crimes.