(Updated on December 11, 2:33am MST)
The attorney for controversial church leader Wayne Bent tells Beyond90Seconds.com that the Gag Order hovering over the case in recent weeks has been lifted.
“I asked the judge to release us from the Gag Order,” Montoya stated emphatically during an interview with Beyond90Seconds.com on Wednesday night.
“I was the one wanting to speak with the media, not avoiding it,” she added.
Judge Gerald E. Baca, Montoya explained, ruled in favor of her request on Wednesday. She said that, earlier in the week, she had presented the judge with “pertinent” copies of case law related to her motion to end the Gag Order.
“And so the only thing the judge said was to abide by the rules of professional conduct. He didn’t say you’re not allowed to make comment.”
So, why did Montoya want the Gag Order lifted?
“Well, I think primarily because the people of Strong City (Bent’s followers) were becoming really agitated by the former cult members giving interviews. And they were overhearing portions of those interviews and felt like a lot of it was inaccurate. And they have felt very frustrated that they couldn’t respond.”
Montoya also refuted an earlier report on this blog stating that she had complained about some of the media coverage of the trial.
“It was (prosecutor) Tomas Benavidez who complained that I had given you the interview on Beyond90Seconds.com, which was an audio interview that went on rather lengthy. Mr. Benavidez claimed that I had revealed my entire defense strategy, which I felt was inaccurate.”
Montoya is referring to her November 3, 2008 unedited interview with Beyond90Seconds.com. The interview runs more than 39-minutes.
Having the Gag Order lifted, Montoya said, affords Bent’s supporters the opportunity to consider if—and when—they want to speak to reporters.
“If they do choose not to speak to the media, they don’t feel like their hands are tied. If they hear something that they feel is blatantly wrong or unfair, that they can, at least, respond if they feel the need.
“All I’m trying to convey is that the Gag Order was, in fact, lifted. And it was at our request. And it wasn’t because we were complaining about the media. It was because of the uncomfortable feeling of the members that felt like they couldn’t respond in kind,” Montoya said.
Montoya also sought to clarify information about a moment in court on Tuesday afternoon during which she had asked Bent’s supporters to gather around her.
“The first thing I told them was that there had been an accident, that Donald Gallegos’s mother was injured. And I asked them to please all go back to their rooms and pray for her.”
District Attorney Donald Gallegos has taken leave from the Bent trial so that he can be at his mother’s bedside.
Petronila “Peggy” Gallegos, 70, is hospitalized with pneumonia and a broken hip.
“Our hearts are with her…And I really feel bad for Donald, that their family’s going through this right now,” Montoya said.