Sect's 'Messiah' arrested on sex charges
May 6, 2008
The leader of an apocalyptic New Mexico church who claims to be the Messiah
was arrested Tuesday on sex charges, state police said.
Wayne Bent, who also goes by the name Michael Travesser, was arrested at the
compound that is home to his Lord Our Righteousness Church, called Strong
City by members. He was being interviewed, state police spokesman Peter
The arrests come after three children were removed from the compound late
A post on the group's Web site said Bent was arrested Tuesday morning.
"I was told by the agent in charge of the case that the arrest warrant
specified charges of three counts of
sexual contact with a minor, and three counts of contributing to the
delinquency of a minor," said the post, written by an unnamed follower. "The
bail was set at half a million dollars."
The writer said sect members were questioned at a state police office in
Clayton, New Mexico, and promised to update the site with "a more complete
response to these false charges."
The Lord Our Righteousness Church was founded in 1987 by former Seventh-day
Adventists, according to the group's Web site. "Since that time, many have
joined who do not have their roots in Adventism."
Bent said on the Web site that God revealed to him in 2000 that he is the
A post from Monday written by Bent said, "The current upheaval over me and
the present contest is well under way. It was the same for Jesus. Jesus had
not committed any crimes, so the authorities had to invent some crimes to
crucify him over."It is the same for me also," Bent wrote. "I have committed
no crimes, but many crimes are being imagined and concocted in the minds of
men to try and kill me again. Men are so stupid, though, for they do not
know that they cannot kill Spirit."
Last month, authorities removed two girls and a boy from the compound. The
reasons for their removal are not publicly known, but the removals gained
attention because they came after more than 400 children were removed from
the Texas ranch of an offshoot Mormon sect that practices polygamy. Those
children remain in state custody.
Bent has acknowledged having sex with his followers, but authorities will
not divulge who the alleged victims are.
A former member of the Lord Our Righteousness Church, however, told CNN
affiliate KOAT that he left because Bent wanted to sleep with his daughters.
John Sayer said he split with the church after 16 years when Bent told him
he was supposed to sleep with seven virgins -- and that two of them were to
be Sayer's daughters, then 14 and 15 years old. He said he told Bent that it
wasn't right and that he, his wife and his daughters left the compound.
Sayer told KOAT that his youngest daughter later returned and was one of the
three removed by authorities.
In posts on the group's Web site, Bent wrote that the three children were
"abducted." "The state has made its move, and now God will make his," he
The Lord Our Righteousness Church is to be featured Wednesday on a National
Geographic Channel program, "Inside the Cult." In a video clip of the show
posted on the channel's Web site, Bent and some young female followers admit
that the young women lay with him while naked but deny sex took place.
"It was God," Bent said in the video clip. "God came down on them and told
them to do it."
A posting from a teenage girl on the compound Web site denied that she was
molested, saying that her "lying with" Bent was not sexual. She was one of
the three later removed.
Bent had predicted that the world would end October 31, 2007. A post to the
site in March said, however: "Now we are in the time of 'the eighth day' --
Shemini Atzaret -- the day after the Feast of Tabernacles, when God said,
'Stay with me one more day.' Now we are in the time that Shemini Atzaret
foreshadowed, and Father has been saying to us, 'Stay with me one more
year.' ... It is the time of the 'last trump.' In the scriptures, it is
'that day' when the final judgment of man is carried out."
Also on the site is a message to the media, saying no interviews will be
"I know very well who the media represents," Bent wrote. "I have no
illusions regarding a free press. The press is only an arm of the beast."
He continued, "I do not speak to, nor do I negotiate with terrorists, who
are holding my children hostage. I will speak with the media when they let
my children go, permanently."
Cult Leader Ordered Released From Prison
A New Mexico State Appeals court has ordered Wayne Bent, aka Michael
Travesser, to be released from prison. In short, the court ruled that the
term of the grand jury that indicted Mr. Bent had been extended and that was
outside of State statute. Therefore the indictment was void and there were
no grounds to prosecute and sentence Mr. Bent. “Judge
Rod Kennedy wrote the opinion for a unanimous three-judge panel, saying the
grand jury’s term had expired but then was arbitrarily extended by the
district court.“Legally speaking, there was no grand jury convened in this
case. Therefore, there was no indictment under the law…” Kennedy wrote. He
said the state was free to retry Bent if it chooses. From
a news release found here: http://www.daily-times.com/ci_18378400 .
State Appeals court in their opinion refers to Bent’s beliefs about this
“Defendant, the apparent leader of a religious community in northeastern New
Mexico, was charged with various crimes centering around what he maintained
were religious practices intended to be cleansing
ceremonies. The State argued that such practices amounted to
criminal sexual contact of minors and contributing to the minor’s
Court upholds cult
leader’s sexual misconduct conviction
October 23, 2012
The New Mexico Supreme Court on
Monday reinstated the convictions of religious cult leader Wayne Bent for
sexual misconduct with teenage followers.
decision reversed the Court of Appeals, which last year had
overturned Bent’s convictions because
the term of a grand jury had expired before it indicted Bent.
- Bent, who also goes by the name of
Michael Travesser, heads The
Lord Our Righteousness Church. He claims God told him in 2000 that
he is the Messiah.
- His few
dozen devotees live in a small plot of land near Clayton, New Mexico.
The community is known as ‘Strong City’ — a name the media has sometimes
used to refer to the group.
- Theologically the group is a cult
of Christianity. Sociologically the group has cult-like
characteristics as well.
- In December, 2008, a jury convicted
Bent of the felonies for
lying in bed with naked 14- and 16-year-old sisters in separate
incidents in 2006. He was sentenced
to 18 years in prison, of
which 8 years suspended.
- During his trial Bent and the sisters
testified the incidents were spiritual exercises and that nothing
happened sexually. The teens said Bent did not touch intimate areas, and
Bent testified he had placed his hands on the sternums, but not the
breasts, of the girls.
- The Associated
Press reports that
If Bent’s indictment was invalidated, the court said, a
new grand jury would likely find there is probable cause to indict Bent
again and he would face a new trial.