Cult leader Wayne Bent, who is known within his Strong City group as Michael Travesser (and who has referred to himself as a Archangel and as the ‘Messiah’) was in court again on charges of sexual abuse of some of his followers.
A district court judge formally charged him with four indictments handed down by a Union County grand jury in Clayton, N.M.
Flanked by 15 followers, Bent — whom his church knows as Michael Travesser — walked into court freely, hoping he’d walk out the same way.
The state argued Bent’s $55,000 bond from a lower court should apply to the district court charges Bent faces of two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.KOAT TV report
“Concerning this matter, the state would ask that the court impose that same bond that was issued in magistrate court,” said prosecutor Emilio Chavez.
But prosecutors found it a tough argument to make.
“Ironically, the district attorney could have kept charges in magistrate court pending while they went to grand jury. They chose not to do that,” said Bent’s attorney, Sarah Montoya.
Montoya told the judge that Bent has been free among his followers for almost two months now.
“If he were going to flee, your honor, he would have done so long before the grand jury indictment came down,” Montoya said.
The state still has concern, though, that Bent has been communicating with his alleged victims and urged the judge to impose a no-contact order.
“[That] should be strictly enforced, your honor,” said Chavez. “Again, that could constitute the technology they use — whether that be e-mail or Internet contact.”
On their own accord, Bent and his followers aren’t speaking to most of the outside world.
They’re calling it a “word fast” and said they won’t communicate until the state returns two children it removed from the Strong City compound in April.
Bent did walk out of court freely but not free. He’ll be back for trial and possibly judgment.
Ultimately, Baca decided Bent isn’t likely to flee prosecution and does not warrant more time in jail.