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Beyond 90 Seconds churches cults New Mexico News Wayne Bent

AG asks NM Supreme Court to deny Bent’s petition

Update: High court rejects sect leader’s bond petition, (KOB-TV/AP, 10/27/09)

Update: Attorney John McCall Responds to the AG (strongcity.info, 10/19/09)

(Note from Mark: This development in the Wayne Bent case was addressed with an “update” link in a previous post, A message from Jeff Bent.  However, I thought it would be best to provide this separate post so that new links/resources specific to this development can be conveniently located here.  This approach also provides readers with an opportunity to comment specifically on the Attorney General’s response to Bent’s petition. A pdf file of the AG’s response can be downloaded at a link provided below.)

“The State disputes any contention that Petitioner’s memorandum and the record are ‘uncontested’ or that there is ‘overwhelming evidence’ that Petitioner is not a flight risk, is not a danger to society and has raised substantial non-frivolous questions in the appeal which could result in the reversal of the convictions.” –from State of New Mexico’s response to Wayne Bent’s  petition for an appeal bond

1.  News release from NM Attorney General (October 16, 2009)

2. NM AG’s response to Bent’s petition for appeal bond (pdf / 11 pages)

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Beyond 90 Seconds churches cults New Mexico News Wayne Bent

A message from Jeff Bent

Wayne_Bent_court_092309 copy

Update: AG asks state Supreme Court to deny Bent appeal (kob.com, 10/16)

Advisory: Comments in this thread have been re-opened

Update: “Imprisoned For Sabbath Keeping” (strongcity.info, 10/7)

*NEW*: VIDEO, “Wayne Bent defends his hunger strike” (krqe.com, 9/24)

Update: “Judge rules in favor of force feeding imprisoned cult leader”  (koat.com, 9/23)

Update: “Judge puts fasting cult leader in doctor’s hands” (kob.com, 9/23)

*New: (updated to include *VIDEO* of KOB-TV’s 6pm news story) “Court could intervene on cult leader’s fast” (kob.com, 9/23)

Video: (KOAT, 9/22)

Update: “Cult leader Wayne Bent is scheduled to be in court on Wednesday as a judge decides whether the state should force feed him.”  (koat.com, 9/22)

Update: Leader of NM sect goes on fast in prison (Associated Press on KOB-TV website, 9/17, 1:15pm PST)

***

(September 17)  Beyond90Seconds received an e-mail from Jeff Bent at 7:10 am (PST) today.  Bent is the son of  “cult leader”  Wayne Bent, whose criminal case has been extensively covered on this blog.  Wayne Bent (aka Michael Travesser)  and his followers have also been the subject of two National Geographic Channel documentaries and numerous news reports around the world. In December 2008, a New Mexico jury convicted Wayne Bent on one count of second-degree sexual contact with a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  According to his son, prisoner Wayne Bent has been fasting for 18 days.

Jeff Bent’s unedited e-mail, apparently sent to numerous media outlets, is shared below with his permission:

Hello,

You are receiving this message because you have contacted me about my
father, Wayne Bent, or have reported on his criminal case.  I have
sent copies of this message to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson,
Attorney General Gary King, and the Department of Corrections.

My father is on the 18th day of a religious fast over his wrongful
conviction and imprisonment.  Since Monday, September 14th, he has
been taking water only.

John McCall, my father’s attorney, stated publicly, “Our office has
determined that this case is more of a trial of the media and the
structures in our society that are tasked with determining the truth.”
The media’s role is to separate fact from fiction, and to seek the
truth.  The courts are to judge according to the facts and the law –
nothing else.

The media and the courts failed spectacularly at doing their job.  My
father, Wayne Bent, found himself at the center of a national media
feeding frenzy in 2008, having become the subject of a largely
contrived and self-perpetuating storyline of a “cult leader” requiring
sex with the young virgins in his apocalyptic church while falsely
predicting the end of the world.  While this fiction had mass appeal
and was much more interesting than the truth, it resulted in a highly
charged criminal case involving his healing practices with two teenage
sisters.  Caught up in the maelstrom of publicity and unable, or
unwilling, to separate my father’s media created persona from the
actual events called into question, the court failed in its role to
stick with the facts and the law, delivering a great injustice to my
father and his church.

This outcome should be of concern to everyone that understands the
importance of a legal system that protects people equally under the
law, especially unpopular minorities who may find themselves targeted
by the media’s powerful ability to mold public perceptions.

The facts of my father’s criminal case are as follows:

1.  My father was charged with two counts of criminal sexual contact
with a minor (CSM), and two counts of contributing to the delinquency
of a minor (CDM).  He was acquitted on one count of CSM, and convicted
on the other counts.

2.  These charges stemmed from a religious healing practice where the
teenaged minors asked to be in his presence unclothed. These
encounters were for the purpose of healing prior emotional trauma in a
safe setting.  These encounters were decidedly and emphatically
non-sexual in nature.  The minors’ parents were not unaware of the
healing practices some in the church were requesting of Mr. Bent.  It
was a subject of open discussion within the church.

3.  It was common for Wayne Bent, when he was still ministering to his
flock, to put his hand on the sternum above the heart, just below the
clavicle.  He did this to invest the soul of that person with his own
peace.  It is believed by Mr. Bent that the heart is where the soul
resides.

4.  Witness A.S., age 16 at the time, was one of the minors who
requested of Wayne Bent to be in a state of naked vulnerability in his
presence so she could release prior emotional trauma that blocked her
from Oneness with God.  This non-sexual 15 minute session with A.S. is
what resulted in my father’s conviction on one count of CSM.  A.S.
left the church and chose a different lifestyle a couple of years
before this case went to trial.  The other witness – her younger
sister – remains part of my father’s church.

5.  A.S. testified that my father, Wayne Bent, placed his hand on her
sternum over her heart.  When asked if his hand touched any portion of
her breast, she replied, “I don’t remember.” The prosecutor asked if
Mr. Bent placed his hand anywhere else on her body.  She answered,
“Not that I recall.”

6.  A.S. said Mr. Bent kissed her on her “breast.” When asked to show
the court where he kissed her, she pointed to an area on her chest
below her left clavicle and above the pillow portion of her breast.
There were significant questions during the trial of what constitutes
a breast that were never answered.

7.  Defense attorney Sarah Montoya showed witness A.S. a Barbie doll
wearing a bikini and asked her if Mr. Bent touched her anywhere on her
body where the Barbie was covered by the bikini.  She answered, “No.”
Ms. Montoya asked “Are you sure?”  A.S. replied, “Yes.”

8.  My father, Wayne Bent, testified under oath that he never touched
the breasts of either witness.

9.  During a bench conference with counsel at closing arguments, Judge
Gerald Baca can be heard on the record whispering, “There’s no
evidence to support that there was ever a touching of the breast.”

10.  During closing arguments, the prosecutor told the jury multiple
times that the witnesses both testified that they were touched on the
breasts by Mr. Bent.  This falsehood, as well as others uttered by the
prosecutor, helped sway the jury in the direction of conviction,
according to one juror who was interviewed afterwards by The Alibi
newspaper.

11.  Judge Baca sentenced my father to 18 years in prison, with 8
years suspended.  He also received 8 years supervised probation and
must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

To say the least, my father did not receive justice at his trial.  The
State failed to meet any reasonable burden of proof that my father had
broken the law.  Much of the trial consisted of testimony from the
State’s witnesses about my father’s controversial religious beliefs.
Having controversial beliefs is not a crime in New Mexico.

The sentence he received is incredible beyond belief, being extremely
disproportionate by any measure of comparison.  The sentence for
murder in the second degree is 14 years.  The day before my father
received his sentence, a high school coach in Alamogordo was sentenced
to ten months work release for having sexual intercourse multiple
times with a 16 year old student at his mother’s apartment.  This year
a fire captain in Rio Rancho received probation for having sexual
intercourse with a 15 year old multiple times in the fire house.

My father has been turned down twice for a bond that he is legally
entitled to receive during his appeal.  Why is that?  Why is this
frail, physically at risk 68 year old man such as threat to everyone?
Why is the State so determined to keep him locked away?

My father is mindful of the fact that the courts are heavily
influenced by public opinion regarding his case, and not the facts and
the law.  There are no political costs for keeping him in prison, but
justice has taken a back seat to political expediency.

This is why my father is now on a religious fast, and will not end his
fast until there is movement in the direction of justice, or he dies.
He was wrongly convicted and wrongly incarcerated as a result of a
modern-day witch-hunt, and he cannot continue to be a party to this
travesty of justice.

Jeff Bent

Categories
Beyond 90 Seconds churches cults New Mexico News Wayne Bent

Wayne Bent fasting in prison again

New: A message from Jeff Bent (Beyond90Seconds.com, September 17, 2009)

Update: Bent may be forced to eat (Albuquerque Journal North, September 7, 2009).

“At the very least, the warden told him if this religious fast progresses into the extent of a hunger strike, force-feeding could be on the table,” Bland said. (Albuquerque Journal North)


(September 1, 2009) Convicted sex offender Wayne Bent says he’s fed-up with (allegorically speaking) being sexually abused by the State of New Mexico.  In an August 31 post headlined My Crown of Thorns on the Strong City website,  Bent writes that he has been fasting for two days and will continue to go without the state’s food and water.

Bent’s latest writing begins with a salutation to his distant flock:

Dear little family at Strong City,

Today [August 19, 2009], I heard the message that my appeal for bond was denied [Read the brief filed with the NM Court of Appeals .

In setting-out to explain his rationale for his latest fast, Bent sets the table by sharing that he was twice the victim of sexual molestation during childhood.  Those stories are followed by this excerpt:

Now, in my old age, I have been molested again by a dirty old man. He is the State of New Mexico. This present molestation of me has affected me a hundredfold more than when I was barely eleven. I have been used as a sex object for the State of New Mexico and Dragonfly Productions in the UK, as well as the National Geographic Channel, in their fantasy movie of me. This little boy is greatly abused again, many times over.

In an allegorical picture, I see myself as the little eleven-year-old; a dirty old man kidnaps me and takes me to his prison house at Los Lunas. He now molests me there for these nine months, and makes me his sex object.

Bent and many of his followers have fasted numerous times since his 2008 arrest.  Last December, a Taos jury found Bent guilty of one count of second-degree sexual contact of a child and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

So, how long will this fast last? Some paragraphs near the end of Bent’s latest offering appear to provide some insight:

I must now refuse to take any sustenance from the State. I will eat none of their food, or drink none of their water. I will cut off this hypocrisy. I refuse to be the State’s “head on a pole.” I do not belong to the State, and no, I am not its property. I have a heart, soul, and mind that belong only to God. This will never change. I will eat only that food and drink that are brought to me by my family, as in the last two imprisonments, and for the same reasons. My family believes in me, and none of them lie and say I molested girls. Their food comes with love. I will no longer receive food from this false owner.

So what will happen if the prison refuses to let my family provide for me? I will die of starvation in this dirty old man’s house, who has molested me for nine months; and, I may die of dehydration, unless God Himself sends the delivering Angel to me. It will be up to the State whether I live or die, but I must be true to myself. It is up to my Father what my resolution will be. It is written of this moment, “Blessed are those believers who die in the Lord from now on.” Revelation 14:13. “Be faithful unto death, and you will receive a crown.” Revelation 2:10.

Whether Bent dies of starvation remains to be seen.  In the immediate future, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that one or more of his supporters will join him in his fast.

Indeed, the first person to comment beneath Bent’s Crown of Thorns is his devoted Esther.

Categories
Beyond 90 Seconds churches cults New Mexico News Wayne Bent

Journalist who returned to Wayne Bent story shares insights into case

Alex_Hannaford_2In today’s audio interview, freelance journalist Alex Hannaford speaks about the controversial Wayne Bent case. It’s a case that has been covered extensively by Beyond90Seconds.com.  It’s also been featured on numerous television programs, including Larry King Live (transcript) and Dr. Phil.

In the 2008 National Geographic documentary, “Inside a Cult,” Bent stated, “I am the embodiment of God. I am divinity and humanity combined.”

But 2008 concluded with a Taos, New Mexico jury finding Bent guilty of crimes against children.  He is presently serving prison time for one count of second-degree criminal sexual contact of a child and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Hannaford visited Bent in prison earlier this year.  He’s also interviewed the parents of Bent’s victims. And he’s spoken with several other key people in the Bent case.  All of that work culminated in Hannaford’s June 14 article for The Sunday Times (UK), “Wayne Bent: The cult of the man they call messiah.”Wayne_Bent_The_Sunday_Times

The Sunday Times piece is not Hannaford’s first telling of Bent’s story.  In 2004, he wrote about Bent for Bizzare magazine (UK).

Today’s audio interview runs 44:14.  The discussion includes insights concerning Hannaford’s interviews with cult expert Rick Ross and followers of the late David Koresh.

Hannaford has written for major publications in the UK, Australia and Hong Kong. He’s tackled topics ranging from the death penalty in America to politics in Nigeria.

His books include a biography about rock star Pete Doherty.  He also served as ghost-writer for Pete Doherty: My Prodigal Son.

Hannaford has lived in Austin, Texas since 2003.

(In case you missed it, audio player is located beneath this story’s headline.)

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churches cults New Mexico News Wayne Bent

Johnny Miller update: Divorce “finalized”

Johnny MIller in "Return to Castle Dome"
Johnny MIller in "Return to Castle Dome"

Just a quick post here to follow-up on an August 10, 2008 Beyond90Seconds.com video featuring a former member of Wayne Bent’s Lord Our Righteousness Church.

As regular readers of this blog may recall, *part one of Return to Castle Dome profiled former LOR member Johnny Miller.  Although Miller had left the New Mexico church and moved to Arizona, his wife remained a loyal member of Bent’s flock in the Land of Enchantment.

Miller’s transition to the outside world was not without struggle. And when discussing his wife in Return to Castle Dome, a hint of the emotional toll appeared to reveal itself.

On Friday, March 6, I received an e-mail from Miller informing me that he is now divorced.  He has given me his permission to publish that e-mail here:





Hello Mark,

Just wanted to let you know that my final link to the LOR has been officially broken.   Lillian’s divorce from me was finalized 28 February 2009.   The papers from the courts arrived yesterday.  We are no longer married.    Thank you again for your interests in this on-going drama and your up to date coverage.    Even from prison, Wayne Bent still reaches out and effects souls.   You have my permission to use this information in the on-going coverage of this story, in the event your readers want to know what became of my situation and status with Lillian.

Sincerely yours,

Johnny Miller

###

(*note:  The link provided to part one of Return to Castle Dome will take you to the video as it appears on Vimeo.  This is for your convenience as the more recently published Vimeo version tends to load much faster than the version published last August.)

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churches cults New Mexico News Wayne Bent

Wayne Bent speaks from prison

LISTEN: “Turning Point” (Wayne Bent speaks from prison)

The imprisoned leader of the Lord Our Righteousness Church isn’t letting incarceration keep him from espousing his foreboding pronouncements from his familiar post in cyberspace.  A new audio recording featuring the voice of Wayne Bent appeared on the LOR’s Web site today. It sounds as if it was recorded over the telephone.

In this latest recording, the convicted sex offender can be heard for 12-minutes and 57-seconds.  Here’s one excerpt:

It seems like ages ago when they murdered my distant cousin, Charles Bent, the first governor of New Mexico. It was in Taos, the same dark town where they murdered me. They beat down his door, shot him, then cut off his head. They hated this new ruler who was over them.

Bent finishes-up his latest message with these words:

Angels now sing their songs, and the sounds of my prison are overcome in the music and melody of my Father. We will soon go away, and men will never behold our brightness again.

The entire transcript of the recording is posted on strongcity.info.

COMMENTARY

As I listened to Bent’s latest offering, I found myself reminded of a song by the late Johnny Cash. Bent’s oft-scratchy audio and the tone of his message seemed similar to Cash’s spoken words at the beginning and the end of The Man Comes Around (The first 20-seconds of Cash’s tune can be heard here) .

I went to YouTube and watched a few videos featuring The Man Comes Around.  The first one included news footage of nuclear explosions, riots and the attack on the Twin Towers (although this video did not include Cash’s spoken words at the beginning).

Next, I went to Wikipedia to learn a bit more about the song I’ve often listened to on my iPod. According to Wiki:

The song is introduced by a spoken portion from Revelation 6:1-2 in the King James Version. This portion of Scripture describes the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, each heralded by one of the “four beasts” first mentioned in Revelation 4:6-9. The first horseman rides a white horse. The musical portion then begins with Cash reciting that a man, presumably Jesus, will one day come to pass judgment. The chorus indicates that these events will be accompanied by trumpets, pipers, and “one hundred million angels singing”.

With such glaring reminders of the content Bent has posted on the Internet over several years, I had to wonder how his song might begin.  That is, if Bent were to sing a song aimed at warning the world that he “will one day come to pass judgment.”