Filmmaker gathering stories behind the Wayne Bent trial

Ben Anthony interview (2)

Five days of a high-profile trial are not all that’s slipped into the lens of Ben Anthony’s documentary shoot for the National Geographic Channel. The British filmmaker tells his primary focus has been on the experiences of the former members of Strong City gathered at the criminal trial of Wayne Bent in Taos last week and today.

Bent’s trial began December 8 and was expected to conclude on Friday. The jury is expected to return to the courthouse today to resume deliberating Bent’s fate.

In an interview lasting just over 34-minutes conducted on Saturday, December 13, Anthony tells about his experience covering the trial last week. He shares unique insights on a story that he has covered for more than a year.

In the audio interview here, Anthony:

  • explains how he felt shunned by current members of Bent’s church for most of last week.
  • shares how this documentary will take a different approach than “The End of the World Cult” and “Inside a Cult”.
  • describes a reunion between the alleged victim “Healed” and Wayne Bent.
  • discusses his previous documentaries and describes the types of topics he most enjoys pursuing.
  • shares what he thinks the lack of a verdict last week could mean is happening inside the jury room.
  • explains why his camera has been focused on KOB-TV’s Jeremy Jojola.
  • details how former and current Strong City members have interacted in Taos.



archive: Ben Anthony interview (1)

31 thoughts on “Filmmaker gathering stories behind the Wayne Bent trial”

  1. Although I disagree with the beliefs of LOR I have little respect for Ben Anthony’s work. As a journalist I take issue with other journalists who use tactics to gain the trust of other people in order to gather material, only to present it to the world in a different way. I have viewed parts of Ben Anthony’s documentary that were cut out. I felt he was wrong to gain the trust of the LOR only to present the material in a different light. And people wonder why the members are not comfortable speaking with him? It is quite obvious to me.

  2. How else can you present a Cult? Ben let them present to the world their twisted story, and then they whined when it made them look stupid. Da!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I am against lying to people to gain their trust. Ben pretended to befriend these people. I don’t care for this type of journalism. All stories deserve a fair and balanced view.

    As I said I disagree with the LOR beliefs, but that does not mean I cut information out and present the material with a different view.

    Ron, you do realize how many cultures in the world there are that live with similar beliefs as LOR?

    I think it’s odd Ben portrays this as something non existant other than the LOR. I’ve traveled to many different places and America is all about sensationalism. That’s simply my opinion.

    The only thing that comes out of lying to people will be people refusing to work with you.

    Can we blame the LOR members for distancing themselves from Ben?

  4. Give examples of lies that Ben told, and give examples of other cultures with similar beliefs.
    I like Jeff and the other folks at Strong City, or I really would not give a damn. I just hate to see anyone manipulated and used.

  5. I like Ben Anthony! He’s doing what a photojournalist does and he’s good at it.

    WB wanted to be in the movies, he got his wish and just because it didn’t come out the way “he” thought it should doesn’t mean it wasn’t accurate. Anyone who watches any type of movie makes their own judgement about it. Some people like it, some don’t, some don’t think it’s accurate. But it got the SC story out which is what they desired.

    Too bad it didn’t come across to those of us in the real world like WB wanted it to. Of course he thinks we’re all doomed anyway so I don’t know why he’s so concerned about what we think.

    Personally, I thought it portrayed exactly what goes on in cults – manipulation, grooming and complete mind control until the followers are so taken in that they can’t think for themselves.

    Ask a former member if “they” think it was an accurate portrayal. I think the majority of them will say it was right on target!

  6. I am appalled that Ben Anthony will run over people trying to get to Wayne Bent for his material. That is ASSAULT!!!!! You should be ashamed of yourself for treating decent people like dirt!

  7. Stephanie, maybe you should mention that National Geographic paid for the rental property of the former members of LOR this past week in Taos, NM.

  8. WB welcomed being filmed. He asked for it and he got it. No one ran over him trying to get to him. He opened the gate and let them in. But, he wanted to dictate the photojournalist’s story and was mad that he couldn’t manipulate Ben Anthony like he manipulates others.

    Who cares who paid for what? It wasn’t your money!
    On the other hand, who paid for the hotel where WB and his followers stayed? My tax dollars through the public defender program? Or did they shell out my tax dollars that they get through Social Security checks?

    You’re nitpicking because you’re mad that he got convicted. You should be happy that for now all he got was house arrest!

  9. KM, where is your anger coming from?

    My anger stems from Ben Anthony running over Sarah Montoya going out of the courtroom on his way to WB. That was just appalling that a man would do that.

    As far as National Geographic paying for the rental property of former LOR members, don’t you think it’s biased?

    Think about your tax dollars… Do you honestly feel you pay enough in taxes that your money makes a large dent in state handled funds? Are you from NM?

    I’m not mad about WB’s conviction. I have no allegiance or anything to him or his followers.

  10. Without Ben, I’m not sure if justice would have been served, and Wayne would still be out there warping minds. Most of us were not there, so we did not see Ben running over Mrs. Montoya. I hope that if he owes an apology that he give it, but let’s not loose site that a sex preditor with a messiah complex has been convicted.

  11. DB –

    I am sorry your mother felt run over. I would remind you that 1. that is only one side of the story, and 2. Mr. Anthony may have cultural differences – (British paparrazzi come to mind.)

    As regards N.Geo paying for the property – I would submit that 1. facts to that effect are not in evidence (in fact, I know of a post that states otherwise) and 2. it really is none of our business. Many media outlets make business arrangements with potential interviewees for a variety of reasons.

    I can’t speak for KM, but I become angry by what I perceive as “Bent apologists” who focus on side issues other than Mr. Bent’s behavior and/or who minimize the harm he has done to his followers.

  12. EMC: A key word “perceive.” We all have our perceptions, opinions, attitudes, etc. I have posted mine just as others.

    My opinion was that NG was biased and like Stephanie, I have little respect for Ben Anthony’s work.

    And for the post records, I have never minimized the harm he has done.

  13. Mrs. Montoya is obviously a very caring person and very compettend lawyer, but only an uncaring, dishonest lawyer could have gotten him off ( becuase he is guilty)!
    If I ever needed to be defended, I would not hesitate to hire her.

  14. DB, I’m sorry about your Mom. I didn’t know she was run down today (I haven’t seen a newscast) and I’m sure that once Mr. Anthony realizes it he’ll be very apologetic.

    Who ever paid for the house doesn’t bother me. People get rooms paid for all the time for all sorts of reasons. I don’t think that would necessarily make a film biased.

    I am from NM and over 30 years have shelled out a lot of tax dollars. So yes, it’s pretty irritating to know that at times my money goes to people who abuse the system. Not just the courts, public defender, etc. but Social Security and other programs set up to help disadvantaged people. And don’t forget the ability to NOT pay taxes by forming a church.

    I don’t care for WB and his manipulation of his followers and I think he got caught because he arrogantly thought that everyone in the world would see him as his followers do.

    But, I do think your Mom did a great job of defending him. If you have read any of my previous posts you would see that all along I was impressed by her tenacity in representing him. I still am. She presented her case much better than the prosecution and I wasn’t sure that he would be convicted of anything.

  15. Thanks for the clarification KM.

    Much of the time I hear of people complaining about the school system and how their tax dollars are wasted. Those complaining are those who abuse the system and I find that perverse.

    Needless to post, but I am very proud of my Mom. She is the hardest working woman I know and it appears to me she exhausted her resources. In my opinion, should the jury have not had the weekend, then there may possibly have been a different verdict due to her diligence.

  16. DB –

    Do you know if she asked for a poll of the jurors and/or if any of the jurors are speaking publicly? I would be interested in hearing their takes on the case.

  17. DB, you should be proud of your Mom. She was on top of everything from the moment she got this case. I know a few people in the legal profession who know her and they have the highest regard for her.

    I think we were all surprised about the need for the weekend. Guess we’ll never know for sure.

    I know her work is not over yet but I hope you and your Mom have a nice break and can enjoy the holidays.

  18. I don’t know if the jurors are speaking publicly. She normally does ask for a poll of the jurors and did so again.

    Thanks for the kind words. Happy Holidays to everyone.

  19. First, I am thrilled with the verdict. Wayne Bent molested minors and the judgment is accurate in my opinion.

    My personal issues with how Ben Anthony conducts his work has nothing to do with the case itself. Please do not misconstrue what I’m addressing here.

    Helping people with costs to be part of documentary are common. It doesn’t mean Ben actually cares about the person on a personal level. He is out to get a job done. NG will pick up the tab.

    Obviously the church feels Ben wronged them by not including parts in his documentary that they wanted to be there. It is very easy to cut and piece scenes together and fashion them in such a way to change the perception to the likings of something called “Ratings”.

    And I will say this again I do not agree with the LOR at all but I still find Ben Anthony’s tactics somewhat disgusting. If you are going to tell a story then tell all of it and be fair to the people you are documenting.

    Ron, Wayne already spoke out against the scenes that were cut from the project. If you’re friends with Jeff Bent then I’m sure you would know which ones Wayne and the members were not happy with. On the old SC site (not the mirror one) there were some posts full of complaints about the documentary itself and a documentary put up on the site outlining pieces that had been cut by Ben Anthony.

  20. “KM, where is your anger coming from? DB ”

    DB I have noticed since I began studying this case that many people are angry and looking for closure. Sometimes it’s like being in a cesspool of sharks when it comes to talking about Wayne Bent.

    I seriously hope that those who have been harmed by LOR or WB will find closure and be able to move on because all of this anger is not healthy for the soul!

  21. Never said I was friends with Jeff, I just think he has a friendly way about him. I’m sure that what Ben included in his film bothered them more than what he left out, but how can you really present something so bizare? The fact that Wayne controls these people and breaks the law came out. Can you imagine the emotional damage he has done? After a year of really looking into Strong City, I just dont see how anyone could think that Strong City wasnt treated fair.

  22. avatar
    Johnny D. Miller

    I wojld like to say something. A large percentage of the money used for transporting former members of the LOR to Taos came from contributions from a special appeal posted on Prudence’s site. There are many people who take sides with Wayne who never knew anything about the man, his doctrine, or his actions. Even at Wayne’s trial his inner workings continued to ruin lives and marriages. My wife who is still in the cult asked me for a divorce last Wednesday afternoon in the McDonalds down the street from the court house. I wasn’t even allowed to meet with her alone. She had two “bodyguards ” with her as we spoke. So chalk up another one for Wayne Bent. A 17 year marriage now distroyed and soon to be dissolved. Hopefully I will be the last one hurt by this man and his false religion. Now I pray that healing will start coming to everyone with Wayne Bent behind bars. It is time for life to go on.

  23. as one of the jurors…yes she did ask for a poll. I think that Sara Montoya did a good job and the DA was lacking. The barbie doll was alittle odd. But it was obvious that WB was not right and he did commit a crime and I hope he pays dearly for it. Serving on the jury was an experience I will never forget. Yes there was a time I almost broke down..good thing the judge called a break. But if I only knew what I know now about this I think my verdict would have been guilty on all 4 counts.

    As for you Johnny Miller I am so sorry for what you have been through, 17 yrs is a long time to just waste away Hopefully your wife will come to her senses and think about what she is doing. My prayers are with you

  24. Quote: “Ask a former member if “they” think it was an accurate portrayal. I think the majority of them will say it was right on target!” -KM

    I’m a former member and yes it was right on target. Great job by Ben Anthony. Even without his commentary, it wouldn’t have made a difference.. it’s quite obvious that Bent is a total nutjob just from his own words, as it was also quite obvious that you had classic cult psychology and manipulation going on, although Bent’s leadership would seem humble and honest at first glance.. you have only to listen to his entranced flock speak for themselves to see what’s going on.

    Case in point: Bent pledged to starve himself to death in prison, and without being asked- mentioned that he could not control whether his followers did so as well. How obvious is that?

    Anyway I’m glad justice was served and the cancer will be removed shortly. Hopefully those poor people will snap out of their trances instead of starving themselves to death.

  25. Pingback: Filmmaker Ben Anthony returns to U.S. for Wayne Bent’s trial « Beyond 90 Seconds

  26. Hello, I just wanted to respond to the remarks concerning the way Ben portrayed Strong City in his documentary.

    I was with these people for 18 years and I was there with them in NM until 2 years ago. When I saw Ben’s film, I was grateful that he had been able to see through the “nice” facade, and in my opinion, his portrayal was accurate. In fact, if I was able to tell you about everything we went through before Wayne laid naked with the girls, you would find it to be much worse than the documentary showed. No, he didn’t physically torture us, but he did a real number on us emotionally and psychologically, that can be just as damaging.

    Really, whether you want to believe it or not, Ben just cut through all the crap and laid it out as he saw it. Some say it was just another sensationalized media skit, but I thought he did a good job getting the point across. From one who was there, the reality of the things that occurred on the Strong City property in New Mexico were even more sensational than the documentary showed. The sensationalism wasn’t in terms of physical things like murder or rape, but it was the process we went through of having our “selves” (who we were) so destroyed. It’s a very hard thing to communicate to people accurately what we went through. That is why I say that the documentary did portray a spirit that Wayne would like to deny was there.

  27. And again, I am the only one on the web that I find, that understands what is happening.

    Ben Anthony is a dangerous cult leader.
    His propaganda against Americans has been put on Belgian TV last week. If Germany also goes sent it, maybe Europeans will go to help hunt Americans.
    USA is made ignorant by foreign powers.

    Ben also made improper contact to young woman at Strong City, when he was making lies for the Pope visiting the USA. Ben Anthony should be put 33 years in jail, and made hate talk about by all media.

    I understand that Michael is Messiah.
    But I do not understand, that he allows dangerous cult leaders as Ben Anthony on His property. Have a look at the wars Britain has supported last 300 years, and you will learn not to trust them like that. Britain and USA went together to Iraq, the rest of us Europe do not support this Crusade for the Pope. King Lionheart whatever?
    May Saladin strike again.

    Anyhow, I am reading this book now by Samuel Morse, the inventor of the Morse code. In that book is explained who KM is working for.
    Support from Europe and Canada for you.

    Stop your ignorance. There are already 500 concentration Camps build in the USA. A race war is promoted by propaganda, your media is not controlled by Americans. If you do not repent and wake up, all protestants in the USA will be killed.

    The British did that to people from my country in the Boer wars in South Africa. These British would invent the Concentration Camps. Protestants where put there. 200 000 troops where sent to South Africa, for defeating 300 000 people living there.

    Please read the books by Samuel Morse, that I linked. If you care about your family. Wayne merely sacrifices himself, in order to save the people in the USA. USA today looks a lot like Germany, in fact, Germany is the only European country that looks like the USA. Do you know what happened in 1940~1945? No? Well, if you don’t, you will find out soon. Patriot act, concentration camps, many Americans have warned you, not only Wayne.

  28. Woah, down boy, down Gues!

    How did we get from an old man who claims to be the messiah to the Roman Catholic Church controlling the world?

    Unlike Saladin, a Kurdish Muslim, I am not involved through work or my faith in any type of persecution of others for their religious beliefs, even yours.

    I do actively fight for the right of the abused to confront their abuser, be it a priest, psychologist, spouse, parent or cult leader. That’s what I’m about, protecting the innocent.

    America was built on the premise of certain rights and freedoms. One of those freedoms is from being persecuted in a number of different ways. That includes persecution from individuals on someone else in the form of physical, verbal, emotional, spiritual and financial abuse.

    Like others before him, WB was charged with several crimes because he put himself above the law, seemingly under the guise of religion, but that’s no excuse.

    That said, anyone charged with a crime in our country is innocent until proven guilty. He was appointed an attorney who fought a hard battle for him but the facts were overwhelming and he was found guilty by a jury of his peers. And now he will be sentenced for the crimes he was convicted of. That’s the way our court system works.

    You go ahead and believe in your “Michael”. No one is stopping you. But, you are rambling and what you write condemning my faith has no bearing at all on the issues we are discussing on this blog.

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