DES MOINES, New Mexico — The son of a cult leader who calls himself the messiah said the criminal complaint filed by a one-time follower charging him with sexual abuse of a minor is just like the betrayal of Jesus by a disciple.
And the cult leader, Wayne Bent, has noted on the group’s Web site that he spent “three days and three nights” in jail, comparing it to the three days and three nights that Jesus was buried before the New Testament claims he rose from the dead.
Bent’s son, Jeff, told ABC News that his father was innocent of charges that he had sexual contact with a minor and contributed to the delinquency of a minor. The charges prompted authorities to remove three teenagers from the compound.
Jeff Bent said his father did lay down naked with minor children, but said “he’s never had sexual contact with minors at all, ever, he’s been very careful to protect and respect people he’s been with and who he’s touched and healed.”
He compared the practice of lying naked with teenagers as “something akin to a parent holding a child,” and said it was something his father was ordered to do by God.
“This wasn’t his natural desire to be involved in any of this. This was what God had him do,” Jeff Bent said.
The son said what is happening to his father, who goes by the name Michael Travesser, is what happened to Jesus.
“These circumstances are the same as when the ministry of Jesus ended, Jesus was betrayed by a former disciple,” he told ABC News.
“Jesus was betrayed by a former disciple. He was arraigned on false charges, he was buried. He was crucified and buried. And the district attorney has his own purpose to bury my dad. He wants to make a name for himself by burying a cult leader so he can be elected,” Jeff Bent said.
While Wayne Bent has refused interviews, he posted a message on the group’s Web site, StrongCity.info, after getting out of jail on Saturday.
“When the Father told me that I was His Messiah, I did not know the fullness, or even partially, what that would mean. But I got a taste of it in the Clayton Jail. I was in the jail three days and three nights. I was in the heart of the earth for the time that Jesus was,” Wayne Bent wrote.
Jeff Bent also said that God ordered his father to take his daughter-in-law as his wife. Since Jeff believes his father to be the Messiah, this was a sacrifice he felt he had to make for God.
His father has seven spiritual wives “that were literally, physically consummated&[fulfilling] the prophecy in Isaiah four that said seven woman will take hold of one man in that day,” Jeff Bent said.
“My wife and I separated and dissolved our marriage in 2006, and she became one of the seven after that time,” Jeff Bent said.
Bent and his followers are members of the Lord of Our Righteousness Church, founded in 1987 by Wayne Bent. Jeff Bent told ABC News that there are around 50 members living at the Strong City compound.
May 12, 2008