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Breaking News: Trial date set for Wayne Bent case

TRIAL SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY, OCTOBER 20

(Beyond90Seconds.com broke this story at approximately 12:25pm PST on July 24. This page was last updated at 1:47pm PST.)

(July 24) Beyond90Seconds.com has learned that a trial date for the State of New Mexico’s criminal case against controversial church leader Wayne Bent has been scheduled to begin Monday, October 20, 2008 at 9am at the Union County Courthouse in Clayton, New Mexico.

The jury trial is scheduled to last five days.

This new information is found in a Criminal Scheduling Order filed in Union County District Court at 10:04am today.

On May 20, a grand jury indicted Bent on four counts: two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor in the second degree, unclothed. And two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The next court event in the Bent case is a pre-trial hearing scheduled for August 19 at 2:30pm at the Union County Courthouse.  Beyond90Seconds.com has learned that this hearing had been scheduled for August 12, but was rescheduled this morning due to a scheduling conflict.

According to the Criminal Scheduling Order, the State has until September 1 to present Bent’s attorney with a proposed plea agreement.

Union County Court Deputy Clerk Karen Vieites confirms the jury trial will begin October 20 unless a plea agreement is reached prior to that time.

Criminal Scheduling Order, signed by Judge Gerald E. Baca and delivered this morning to Deputy District Attorney Tomas Benavidez and Wayne Bent’s attorney, Sarah Montoya:


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(See all Beyond90Seconds.com Wayne Bent stories)

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Judge sets Wayne Bent’s bond at $150,000 (VIDEO & PODCAST)

Update:  (July 23): Attorney:  Don’t fringe on religeous freedom (The Raton Range)

The Raton Range delivers excellent coverage of Wayne Bent’s July 18 arraignment.  The newspaper launches into the story with this lead paragraph:

The attorney for the leader of what many people refer to as a cult that maintains its compound northeast of Des Moines told a judge in Raton Friday that Wayne Bent’s practice of lying with naked children is a “religeous healing practice” and has no sexual connotations. –The Raton Range

NEW (July 21): DA: Bent has “50/50” chance of 2008 trial date (includes PODCAST with DA Donald Gallegos)

NEW (July 18 news story) : koat.com *VIDEO* from inside the courtroom:

(Update: July 18, 4:15pm PST) Earlier this afternoon, some of you e-mailed me to ask if Wayne Bent was in custody.  In my effort to track down an answer to that question, I ultimately spoke with someone who should know the answer:  Sgt. Bobbie Long of the Clayton Police Department.

Long is very familiar with the city/county holding cells where Bent would be held “if” he were in custody.  In fact, this is the same facility that held Bent in early May.

Based on my conversation with Sgt. Long, it does not appear Bent is in custody.  Long had several interesting things to say. And she allowed me to record our phone conservation for the purpose of the podcast you will find in the following mp3:

Sgt. Bobbie Long (mp3)
Sgt. Bobbie Long (mp3)

I imagine it’s possible that new and more precise information about the case has hit the wires & news Web sites since I began working on this podcast earlier this afternoon. Any corrections, clarifications and updates will be provided here after I get a chance to scour the news Web sites.

(Update, July 18, 2:17pm PST) I’ve attempted to reach Wayne Bent’s attorney, Sarah Montoya, for comment on this story.  Montoya’s colleague, DJ Martinez, explained that Montoya has left the office due to an urgent family matter.

(Update, July 18, 1:51pm PST) Court Document:  Arraignment Order and Conditions of Release

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(Update, July 18,  1:38pm PST) Listen to Union County Court’s Deputy Clerk Karen Vieites read Wayne Bent’s conditions of release conditions of release.

Still more to come…

(Update, July 18, 1:27pm PST) Bent’s bond: $150,000 “unsecured”.  I also have the conditions of release…will publish here shortly.  Plus more.

Please stay tuned.

(Update, July 18, 1:11pm PST) Still don’t have the “nuts and bolts” concerning what happened at this morning’s arraignment.  State’s lead investigator on the Bent case, Dave Oliphant, has just told me that any specifics about Wayne Bent’s arraignment must come from District Attorney Donald Gallegos.

Person answering phone at Mr. Gallegos’s office tells me Mr. Gallegos is out of the office and won’t be back until Monday.  I do, however, have a cell number for Mr. Gallegos.  I’ve left a voice mail on Mr. Gallegos’s cell number requesting a return call regarding the Bent arraignment.

Lead investigator Oliphant was able to share with me that Senior Trial Prosecutor Amelio Chavez filled-in this morning for an ailing Assistant District Attorney Thomas Benavitez.

Oliphant also shared that Mr. Bent was represented by public defender Sarah Montoya.

Please stay tuned….
(Update, July 18, 12:21pm PST) Still working to get the details of this morning’s arraignment.  I’ve been in contact with District Courts in Union and Colfax counties.  I’m also waiting to hear back from person with the DA’s office.

Employee at clerk’s office in Raton (Colfax County) explained that the information is not in their local system and must be forwarded by Judge Gerald E. Baca to Union County Courthouse (Clayton).  Apparently, the judge hasn’t done this yet and is presently on the bench hearing other cases. Judge is expected to be on the bench throughout this afternoon.  A very busy Friday for the judge, no doubt.

Deputy Clerk at Union County Courthouse says she has yet to receive word from Raton concerning outcome of today’s arraignment.

Hoping to make contact with DA person soon.  He’s been en route from Raton to Clayton since the conclusion of this morning’s arraignment.

Please stay tuned…

(July 18, 10:22am PST) An employee in the Clerk’s Office at the State District Courthouse in Raton, New Mexico confirms that this morning’s arraignment of church leader Wayne Bent has concluded.

Employee did not have information concerning the outcome of the arraignment.

Please stay tuned…

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Bent court date Friday; no confirmation that State returned “Healed” to parents

Update: (July 18 ) Judge sets Wayne Bent’s bond at $150,000

(July 17)  If you’ve spent time following any criminal or civil case, you know it’s not uncommon for court dates to change.  But a a check with New Mexico’s Union County District Court Clerk this morning confirmed that controversial church leader Wayne Bent (aka Michael Travesser) is still scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow (Friday) at 10:30am in Raton.

In May, a grand jury indicted Bent on two counts of second-degree sexual contact with a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

This case could get even more interesting tomorrow as Bent recently proclaimed his vow of silence. In a July 1 post on his Web site, Bent wrote:

I will write no more, speak no more, or listen to you no more.  Not until the children are released from their prisons will you ever hear from me or us again.

Soon after his vow of silence, Bent and his followers took their Web site (Strongcity.info) off-line. Members of the church also took down their videos and posts that had been on myspace and youtube.

Bent’s resolve–as declared in that July 1 post–appeared unwavering:

Go ahead and charge me with contempt.  When you prove yourself not contemptible I will speak with you, but now the God of heaven holds you in contempt, for your deeds are exceedingly evil and grossly perverted.

On this arraignment eve (a hearing that is also scheduled to address Bent’s conditions of release), one must wonder if Bent will speak in court tomorrow.  That’s assuming he appears.

It could all make for an interesting hearing Friday before Judge Gerald E. Baca.

NO CONFIRMATION THAT STATE RETURNED “HEALED” TO PARENTS

Beyond90Seconds.com has received an unconfirmed report that the State of New Mexico has returned 16-year-old Lakeisha Sayer (aka “Healed”) to her parents.  State Police removed the teenager from Bent’s “Strong City” church property on April 22.

A source tells me that Lakeisha Sayer was returned to John and Elsa Sayer on Monday, July 14 following a court decision in Raton late last week.

Hoping to confirm the report, I called the Union County Courthouse this morning.  A court employee told me she could not comment about the matter because the case is sequestered.

Finally, I have two additional legal document to share with you.  As many of you know, two judges had been excused from this case.  I’m posting the Notice of Excusals for Judge John M. Paternoster and Judge Sam B. Sanchez below (both are dated May 21):

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IMPORTANT UPDATE: Arraignment date set for Wayne Bent

Update: (July 18 ) Judge sets Wayne Bent’s bond at $150,000

(At about 12:30pm PST on July 10, Beyond90Seconds.com first reported that an arraignment date had just been set for the Wayne Bent case.  Less than an hour later, the arraignment date had been rescheduled.  This story has been updated to include the new arraignment date.)

At 1:04pm PST Beyond90Seconds.com leaned that the arraignment date for the Wayne Bent case has been changed.

Union County District Court Clerk Karen Vieites reports that the arraignment is now scheduled for Friday,  July 18 at 10:30am in Raton.

Earlier today, the arraignment date had been set for July 14 in Clayton.  Again, the date has been changed to July 18 in Raton.

On May 20, a grand jury indicted Bent on four counts: two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor in the second degree, unclothed. And two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Judge Gerald E. Baca will preside over the July 18 arraignment. The hearing is also scheduled to address Bent’s conditions of release.

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NM Supreme Court assigns judge to Wayne Bent case

(Update: July 10)Arraignment date set for Wayne Bent

(Updated; July 8, 8:18pm PST.)

Beyond90Seconds.com has learned that the New Mexico Supreme Court has assigned Judge Gerald E. Baca to preside over “all matters” concerning the State’s case against controversial church leader Wayne Bent (aka Michael Travesser).

Judge Baca presides in the Fourth Judicial District in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The court’s decision comes in an Order Designating Judge obtained by Beyond90Seconds.com.  The document is dated June 25 and was filed in District Court July 2.

New Mexico State Police arrested Bent May 6 and charged him with three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor.

In its Arrest Warrant Affidavit, the State named three alleged victims of criminal sexual contact. Two weeks later, a grand jury indicted Bent on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The grand jury indictment listed two alleged female victims.

On June 17, a 13-year-old girl named Willow was released from State custody. A post on Bent’s Web site stated that “the case for Willow Dawn Travesser was dismissed by the State of New Mexico.”

Willow was allowed to return to her parents and the church’s property known as Strong City.

According to the Associated Press, Willow was not one of the two alleged victims named in the grand jury indictment.

Union County District Court Clerk Karen Vieites tells Beyond90Seconds.com that a trial date in the Bent case has yet to be scheduled. Vieites said no proceedings (e.g., appearances, hearings) have been scheduled in Bent’s case so far.  Not surprising, as the State’s Supreme Court assigned the case to Judge Baca just 14 days ago.

Update:  July 9, 1:11pm PST

Because the text in two of the pdf files in the above story is less-than-sharp, I’ve decided to make some of those pages available here as jpg images.  Text quality should be better here.

(Please click images for access to larger views.)

Order Designating Judge

Order Designating Judge
Page 1: Order Designating Judge
Order Designating Judge
Page 2: Order Designating Judge

Arrest Warrant Affidavit

Arrest Warrant Affidavit
Page 1: Arrest Warrant Affidavit
Arrest Warrant Affidavit
Page 2: Arrest Warrant Affidavit
Arrest Warrant Affidavit
Page 3: Arrest Warrant Affidavit
Arrest Warrant Affidavit
Page 4: Arrest Warrant Affidavit

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Church leader Wayne Bent vows silence, curses world

The leader of The Lord Our Righteousness Church writes that he will no longer write or speak to people outside of his flock until two teens are returned to his church.

Wayne Bent (aka Michael Travesser) takes this latest stand in his July 1 post on his church’s Web site.  In all, 5,474 words appear beneath the headline, Healed and Michael Speak for the Last Time.

Bent remains indicted by a grand jury for allegedly having committed second-degree criminal sexual contact of a minor.  Charges involving a previously alleged second victim have been dropped.

After reading the first 3,596 words of Bent’s July 1 post, one discovers the following pronouncement:

I will write no more, speak no more, or listen to you no more.  Not until the children are released from their prisons will you ever hear from me or us again.

According to his Web site, New Mexico’s Children, Youth & Families Department decided yesterday that a 16-year-old girl taken from the property April 22 will not be allowed to return at this time.

Two other teens were subsequently taken from the church.  A teenage boy has been returned to his parents.  Bent maintains the boy is not happy and wishes to return to the church property.

A 13-year-old girl, “Willow”, has returned to her parents and Strong City.

The 16-year-old girl removed from Strong City April 22 goes by the name of “Healed”.  Bent’s July 1 post includes the text of what is purported to be a “draft” letter written by “Lakeisha R. Sayer AKA Healed”.

That letter includes the following excerpt:

I have told people over and over again that Michael did NOT sexually abuse me, use me, coerce me, touch me inappropriately, or force me to submit to him. Everything he did or does, was and is at my request and desire. It was pure, heavenly and undefiled by any perversions or human lusts or sexual desires.  It was purely of God, and it was all legal.

Bent immediately follows-up the letter with this excerpt:

She (Healed) also went on to say to us that she was including these thoughts:  I am NOT a victim, and I will not take the witness stand and testify that I am. I will not let you use me to testify for you against Michael. He did not molest me or even touch me sexually in any way.

At the outset of his final post, Bent maintains that Healed would be better protected at his church property than elsewhere, stating:

If this young woman was now willing to give up her love for God and Michael and go along with the pornography and screwing around with their boyfriends that most young women do in these days, and that which is common to her natural world, I can promise you she would not be in CYFD custody.

Bent rounds-out his post with numerous paragraphs (mostly “adapted” scripture) proclaiming his curses for the world, including:

Because you have refused to return my children, or let them speak with us, but instead keep them in your prisons, “…all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in your place of work.  …Cursed shall be your children, and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your cattle, and the young of your flock. …The Lord will send upon you curses, confusion, and frustration, in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly, on account of the evil of your doings, because you have forsaken me [and thought to keep my children from me].

Who, exactly, is Bent writing to?  He explains it this way:

My comments here encompass the entire population and not just certain people.

And what about his declaration of silence?  Will it carry over to court proceedings? The answer appears to be a definitive,”Yes”:

Go ahead and charge me with contempt.  When you prove yourself not contemptible I will speak with you, but now the God of heaven holds you in contempt, for your deeds are exceedingly evil and grossly perverted.

Bent’s flock appears to have imposed a declaration of silence, too. A vast number of videos posted by LOR members on Web sites such as youtube and myspace have been taken down.

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