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DA: Bent has “50/50” chance of 2008 trial date (PODCAST)

Donald Gallegos mp3
Donald Gallegos mp3

In a phone interview with Beyond90Seconds.com this morning, District Attorney Donald Gallegos said it’s possible the criminal case against controversial church leader Wayne Bent may not take place this year.  Pressed for a prediction, Gallegos said he feels that there is a “50/50” chance the trial will get underway in 2008.

Donald Gallegos  iTunes
Donald Gallegos iTunes

If the Bent trial is pushed to 2009, expect a new judge to be assigned to the case.  Learn the reason why in the Beyond90Seconds.com podcast interview with Gallegos.

While Gallegos explained that he could not discuss specifics concerning the State’s case against Wayne Bent (yes, that certainly includes evidence), he did provide several insights into the legal process, especially factors that could affect a trial date.

Gallegos stressed that the State is ready to go to trial and that the alleged victims are ready, too.

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.

TODAY’S *PODCAST (Total run time is 12:39)

*In my introductory remarks in today’s podcast, I reference the British documentary, The End of the World Cult.  If you’d like to watch it, you may do so below:

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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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Bent’s Web site, “New Mexico returns Willow”

Update (July 17): This is a second version of the Strong City video concerning Willow’s return home.  It runs 3:35, just over a minute longer than the earlier version:

Update (June 18): The following video of Willow’s return to the Strong City church property in northeastern New Mexico was posted on youtube today (runs 2:42):


Update: Associated Press updates its story with a correction.
Update: LOR’s Web site has posted video of child’s return to Strong City.
Update: Here is a link to an Associated Press article published in The Las Cruces Sun-News.

(June 17, 10:41am PST) From the Web site of The Lord Our Righteousness church leader Wayne Bent:

At 10:32 A.M. today, Tuesday June 17th, the case for Willow Dawn Travesser was dismissed by the State of New Mexico, and Willow was released out of State custody back to her parents. She is on her way home now, and will come to Strong City for a meal with the family. My fast will end today when I see her face.

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Some of Wayne Bent’s followers now joining him in fasting

Update (June 8, 10:50am PST): I received a brief e-mail from Wayne Bent this morning. Bent wrote, “About 40 people have joined me in the present fast.

One day after The Lord Our Righteousness church leader Wayne Bent (aka Michael Travesser) announced that he is fasting until a girl is returned to her parents, some interesting responses have arrived at Beyond90Seconds.com.

Dean Cline (former husband of Amana Travesser and stepfather of former church member Prudence Welch) sent me the following e-mail (published here–unedited–with Cline’s permission):

Dear Mark,

Thank you for giving us, at strong city, a forum that has not tried to spin what has transpired.
Perhaps I should identify myself first. My legal name is Dean Cline and I am the ex husband of Amana Travesser, mother of Prudence Welch. I to am a member of the LOR church but have not been actively participating on the church site so am now unable to contribute my support for Michael, in his fast, on that site. I do want to let it be publicly acknowledged that I am in full agreement with Michael and will not eat until there is resolution.
Thank you for posting this on your site.
Seth
aka Dean Cline

Other members of Bent’s church have reportedly pledged to join him in fasting, too.

Last month, a New Mexico grand jury indicted Wayne Bent on four charges: 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.

One of the alleged victims is believed to be the girl whom Bent says should be returned to her parents; thus, prompting his decision to fast.

In a comment posted overnight on Beyond90Seconds.com, Bent writes:

I am protesting the illegal imprisonment of a young lady who did nothing wrong.

Bent’s entire comment can be read here.

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