9 Nov 2010

Cult leader Wayne Bent appeals conviction for sexually abusing minors, claims it was part of healing ritual

NewsWest 9 - KWES-TV Midland, Texas October 29, 2009

Sect leader says prosecution, trial were flawed

by Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The leader of a religious sect convicted of sexual misconduct with two teenagers says his prosecution and trial were flawed.

Wayne Bent's lawyer has told the state Court of Appeals that the grand jury that indicted him was meeting improperly and wasn't allowed to hear important evidence.

John McCall says the trial judge wrongly limited the trial's duration and the number of defense witnesses and allowed prejudicial questioning of Bent. And he contends the instructions given to the jury that convicted Bent were flawed.

McCall's written brief says Bent's trial lawyer should have used a religious freedom defense because the touching was part of a healing ritual.

Bent is in prison for criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

This article was found at:


The News Tribune - Tacoma, Washington October 31, 2009

SANTA FE, N.M.: State high court rejects sect leader’s bond petition

The state’s highest court has denied a request from sect leader Wayne Bent for prison release on bond while he appeals his convictions for sexual misconduct with teenage female followers.

The Supreme Court denied the petition without explanation, as had the Court of Appeals.

Bent is serving 10 years for criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The leader of The Lord Our Righteousness Church said the touching was part of a religious healing ritual and there was no sexual activity.

This article was found at:



Self-proclaimed messiah again promises to starve himself to death, and this time he means it

Follower of imprisoned cult leader Wayne Bent talks about death wish

Son Says Apocalyptic Sect Leader Won't Live Long in Prison

Leader of NM sect guilty in child sex case


  1. I pray this "WayBent-messiah" stays right where he is...PRISON and serves every single day of the 10 yrs he was sentenced and then upon release must register as a sex offender he promises will NOT do..but ha! Like he promised the judge that he wouldn't live more than few days...has been 2.5 yrs now and his claiming to fast well over a year all while eating junk from vending machines AND endless cans Ensure drinks, juices and crackers....whatever he could scrounge...he was NOT fasting as he claims. Liar!
    He's sooo friggen butt ugly, cant understand why a 17 yr olds convinced she must have sex with him at all cost! She cried out when on witless stand how in love she was with him and MUST have "The Consummation" (the cults flowery word for sexual intercourse). She's bound and determined to do it with him, but he feared trouble as she was under age then, but ya never know! She was one horny gal whose raging hormones and misguided love lead her to believe this man was a god who gives them eternal life. Sad to learn so many believe in him, even now.
    They've wasted their lives and will continue wasting it as they await his release that may happen later than sooner... least I'm praying for this. Hopefully more cult members will wake up to the fact they've been deceived far too long and time to make things right with the real Messiah!

  2. The anonymous commenter above states: "...cant understand why a 17 yr olds convinced she must have sex with him..." and "She was one horny gal whose raging hormones and misguided love lead her to believe this man was a god..."

    I almost did not approve that comment because of the 'blame the victim' mentality, but decided to publish and respond to that instead.

    The abuse of those teens did not start with sexual abuse. The abuse started with religious indoctrination. If you want to understand how teens could think like that, you need to understand how evil indoctrinating children with religious ideology of any kind is.

    Those teens were probably indoctrinated since birth, if not by bent Wayne and his spiritual fraud, then by parents or other adults, such as pastors, bible teachers, etc.

    If those teens were convinced they needed to have sex with their spiritual leader, then it was through no fault of their own, such as being horny like the anonymous commenter claims, but because they were indoctrinated to obey religious authority.

    This particular cult is just an extreme example of what occurs in moderate, mainstream churches. Little children are lied to and manipulated to believe in things that are not true, and taught to never doubt or question religious authorities such as the bible or pastors and priests.

    The anonymous commenter is a Christian who can't help but evangelize, even here on an atheist website. But his hope that "... more cult members will wake up to the fact they've been deceived far too long..." is really applicable to his own false religion.

  3. Court Reinstates Cult Leader’s Convictions

    By Scott Sandlin / Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer October 23, 2012

    The New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday reinstated the conviction of messianic leader Wayne Bent, saying that even though his sex crimes indictment was flawed, the remedy cannot be a new trial.

    “At this point in the proceedings – post conviction – there is simply no adequate remedy available for (the) defendant,” the court said.

    The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Court of Appeals to decide questions it hadn’t decided when it overturned Bent’s conviction based on the grand jury issue.

    In its June 2011 opinion, the Court of Appeals ordered a new trial, agreeing with Bent’s defense that the grand jury had no authority to act at the time it returned the indictment, because it was long past the 90 days of its authority.

    But Bent, whose arrest made national headlines, was not released while the Supreme Court had the case under consideration. The Appeals Court gave no reason for denying his release pending the state’s appeal to the Supreme Court.

    For a time, based on a court order, Bent was fed a liquid diet by a feeding tube after refusing to eat while locked up at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility.

    “Legally speaking, there was no grand jury convened in this case,” Appeals Court Judge Roderick Kennedy wrote in the 2011 opinion.

    Justice Richard Bosson, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, however, said quashing the indictment at this point in the case would likely mean a needless do-over of the indictment and trial.

    “In short, reversal now, after a guilty verdict, would accomplish little because, based on this record, probable cause exists to bring these same charges against (Bent),” the opinion says. Probable cause, required to file a charge, is a much lower standard of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt, required for a conviction.

    Bent, 71, also known as Michael Travesser, was the leader of a religious community in northeastern New Mexico called the Strong City compound. He was charged with criminal sexual contact with minors based on ceremonies he claimed were cleansing ceremonies, convicted in a jury trial in Taos in 2008 and sentenced to 10 years.

    Bent claims God spoke to him in 2000 and told him he was the messiah.

    He was accused of lying in bed with naked 14- and 16-year-old sisters in separate incidents in 2006. He and the girls testified that the incidents were spiritual exercises and that nothing happened sexually.

    The Supreme Court said the court clerk for the 8th Judicial District, which includes Taos, Colfax and Union counties, sent grand jury summonses to 125 Union County residents ordering them to report to the courthouse on Nov. 13, 2007.

    “The record is unclear what happened that day,” the Supreme Court opinion says.

    Defense and prosecution agreed that the grand jury judge, Sam Sanchez, orally extended the grand jury’s term for three more months. (Sanchez in 2009 was permanently banned from the bench for abuse of powers based on an unrelated incident.)

    But the grand jury didn’t meet again until May 2008, when it heard evidence against Bent and issued the indictment.

    According to calculations by Bent’s defense, “the grand jury had no authority even to convene, much less indict, as of that date,” the Supreme Court said.

    The Court of Appeals, after concluding that the grand jury indictment was invalid, did not consider other issues raised by Bent when he first challenged his convictions.

    “The maxim ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ describes how I feel about the decision of the Supreme Court,” Bent’s son, Jeff Bent, said in an email to The Associated Press. “My father’s right to due process has been trampled on by the fact that after four years on appeal, he basically finds himself back at square one.”

    Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
    — This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal


  4. Judge cuts New Mexico cult leaders prison sentence

    By Marissa Lucero, KRQE January 5, 2016,

    ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A judge has ruled that a cult leader should be released from prison early after he was convicted of sex crimes in 2008.

    A jury sentenced 74-year-old Wayne Bent to 10 years in prison after he was found guilty of lying naked in bed with two teenage girls at his northern New Mexico compound. He was found guilty of criminal sexual contact and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    After he was sentenced, Bent addressed the court.

    “With all the respect to the court I won’t be serving anytime in prison expect for maybe a few days,” Wayne said.

    Wayne was wrong. He’s been in prison for nearly seven years.

    Now, a judge has ruled that Bent be released because he’s been diagnosed with skin cancer. The motion states that Bent needs to be released for “further medical treatment,” but that he’d be on supervised probation.

    According to court documents, the judge set Bent’s release date for no later than December 31, 2015. However, Bent remains behind bars.

    The New Mexico Corrections Department filed a separate motion asking the court to clarify its ruling.

    The motion states NMCD “cannot comply with the simplest interpretation of the court’s amended judgement.”

    The corrections department said Bent must appear before a parole board before a decision like that can be reached. According to the corrections department, no such hearing has been scheduled.

    However, a hearing has been set in order to clarify the judge’s amended motion to release Bent from prison. That hearing is scheduled for Jan 26, 2016.


  5. Sect leader Wayne Bent slated for release from prison

    By Mark Oswald / Journal Staff Writer Albuquerque Journal January 26th, 2016

    TAOS — After hearing in court here today, it appears that religious sect leader Wayne Bent, 74, will soon be out of prison after seven years behind bars for his 2008 conviction on charges of second-degree criminal sexual contact with a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    Lawyers for Bent, the state Corrections Department, and the District Attorney’s Office agreed that Bent should be released because of his need for medical care for skin cancer. But attorney Jim Brewster, representing the Corrections Department, said the state Parole Board needed more information before it would release Bent. District Judge Abigail Aragon previously had ordered Bent’s release by the end of 2015.

    Issues that need to be worked out include whether there is cell phone service at the Union County property of Bent’s church, the Lord Our Righteousness Church, where he will return after his release. He will be required to wear a GPS monitor that needs such cellular reception. Bent attorney John McCall said there’s a chance a revised order for release can be worked out in time for a Parole Board meeting next week.

    He was convicted of inappropriate sexual behavior with two teen-age sisters in 2006 when he lay naked with them. But according to information provided by McCall, both women have now called for Bent’s release.

    Bent has already served seven years of his 10-year sentence.


  6. Sect leader on parole

    by Andrew Oxford, Taos News February 17, 2016

    The man considered a messiah by members of a Christian sect and convicted in 2008 of criminal sexual contact with an underage girl during what he claimed to be a religious ceremony was freed from prison last week.

    Wayne Bent, 74, was released on supervised parole Feb. 11 and has registered as a sex offender, according to records from the New Mexico Corrections Department.

    A lengthy “last will and testimony” offering what is purported to be Bent’s take on the case against him has since been posted on a website dedicated to the sect leader.

    “The Appeals Court judges, the Supreme Court justices and the district court judge have all stated their opinions in my legal case,” says the letter, which was posted Feb. 14. “Now I would like to tell my story and issue my opinion of it.”

    The letter, purportedly written by Bent, maintains he never molested the teenage girl he was convicted of inappropriately touching.

    The letter mentions a videotaped interview the girl provided to his attorney in 2010 during which she denied he was guilty of any crime and called for the sect leader’s release.

    Bent founded the Lord Our Righteousness Church in 1987. Based near Clayton, it has been described as a cult.

    The 2006 incident that led to the charges against Bent are said to have been part of a religious ceremony connected to the Book of Revelations during which virgin women and girls were to lie naked with the nude Bent, who testified he touched them on their sternums. Two of the girls, ages 14 and 16, were sisters. Bent was indicted on two counts of criminal sexual contact and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A jury in Taos convicted him on all but one count of criminal sexual contact and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

    The letter posted on WayneBent.com describes the case against Bent as religious persecution.

    “My greatest offense in all the world was that I showed myself independent from them and my testimony was that I was led of God. For this they called me a 'cult leader,' but there is no 'cult' greater than theirs,” Bent writes. “Our church does not persecute those who are different, but they have persecuted us.”

    Bent’s release from prison concludes a legal odyssey that included an appeal to the New Mexico Supreme Court and a writ of habeas corpus.

    In November, Judge Abigail Aragon ordered the New Mexico Corrections Department release Bent by the end of 2015 on numerous conditions, including that he register as a sex offender and not have contact with children.

    The Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office did not oppose Bent’s release on supervision, which also includes electronic monitoring.

    But Bent remained behind bars as lawyers for New Mexico’s prison system maintained they did not have authority to release him without approval from the state’s parole board, which reportedly met earlier this month.

    The lawyer representing Bent asked for his quick release so he may receive treatment for cancer.

    Bent’s health is deteriorating, attorney John McCall indicated.

    The septuagenarian is at risk of losing hearing in both ears if he does not undergo surgery, McCall said.

    Family members said after Bent’s court appearance last month he would return to the church's ranch near Clayton. But the state’s sex offender registry lists Bent as living at an address in Raton.


  7. Sect leader Wayne Bent released from prison

    By Mark Oswald / Journal Staff Writer February 16th, 2016

    SANTA FE – Religious sect leader Wayne Bent, sentenced in 2008 to 10 years in prison for lying with two naked teenage girls in what Bent and his followers maintain was a spiritual healing rite, is out of prison.

    Bent, 74, was released on supervised parole last week, according to a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections.

    Bent – who was head of The Lord Our Righteousness Church, called himself a messiah and predicted the world would end in 2007 – and his followers lived in a compound in Union County in northeast New Mexico.

    In November, state District Judge Abigail Aragon ordered Bent’s release by the end of 2015 for health reasons, with a stipulation that he have no involvement with children, undergo sex-offender treatment and register as a sex offender.

    Prosecutors didn’t object, but his release was delayed until the state Probation and Parole Division could approve a parole plan. His case went before the Parole Board on Feb. 5. Details of the plan were not available Tuesday, but his son has said he will return to his church community’s property in Union County.

    A statement dated Sunday, said to be Bent’s “last will and testimony,” has been posted on the waynebent.com site and proclaims his innocence, as Bent and his followers have done since the start of the case.

    “Because I didn’t worship what the world and its nominal Christian churches worship, and furthermore, because I could not be made to, this offended ‘the beast,’ the self-proclaimed ruler of this world and self-proclaimed educator of our children, and caused it to target me as not being part of it,” says the statement, also described as a “final letter.”

    Bent was convicted in 2008 on a count of second-degree criminal sexual contact with a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His lawyer said recently that Bent was diagnosed a year ago with skin cancer that threatens his hearing.

    Bent attorney John McCall told Judge Aragon at a hearing last month that Bent could lose his hearing if he wasn’t released to get an ear operation scheduled for early March at an Albuquerque hospital. After the hearing, Jeff Bent, Wayne Bent’s son, said the Corrections Department previously had canceled his father’s ear surgery “based on concerns” over cost.

    Jeff Bent and McCall also called attention to statements by the sisters who in 2006, while 14 and 16 years old, were naked with Wayne Bent. They called for his release and said they didn’t feel molested. At his jury trial, Wayne Bent testified that he only touched the girls on the sternum, not their breasts, at his church’s Strong City compound near Clayton.

    The recent online posting on the Wayne Bent site says he’s been persecuted.

    Referring to those responsible for the charges against him, the “final letter” says, “My greatest offense in all the world was that I showed myself independent from them and my testimony was that I was led of God. For this they called me a ‘cult leader,’ but there is no ‘cult’ greater than theirs. Our church does not persecute those who are different, but they have persecuted us. The ‘free country’ myth has been exposed.”