Cult member talks to reporter about her wish to die for jailed leader

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Bent follower talks about death wish

A New Mexico cult member has spoken exclusively to Eyewitness News 4 about why she wants to die for Wayne Bent, the man she believes to be God but a jury convicted as a child molester.

Eyewitness News 4 investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola spoke with the woman, known as Esther, just hours before deputies took her away from her cult compound near Clayton.  It is where she has lived in isolation since she was six years old, along with others who believe Wayne Bent to be the messiah.

KOB Eyewitness News 4, Albuquerque, NM report

The compound, known as Strong City, is 311 miles from Albuquerque – the last 30 on dirt road.  It is here in a trailer home that we found a pale and weak looking woman with a heating pad on her lap, sitting still in a chair.  She is 25 years old.

“The last time I ate was the morning of December 30th,” said Esther.


That was the day Wayne Bent, known as “Michael” to his cult, was sent to prison for ten years for touching a teenage follower’s breast as she lay naked with him.

He claims it was a healing ceremony.

“I swear by God that he is in jail over a lie, and I won’t support that,” said Esther.  “I’m willing to die on what I stand on, which is purely God’s instructions to me.  I wouldn’t be doing this if God hadn’t told me to, but I’m willing to die doing what God told me to do, and in essence, yes, it would be for Wayne Bent.”

Esther wrote out a signed statement refusing medical care, saying “I don’t want to be resuscitated unless Wayne Bent is released.”
[…]

Jeff Bent, Wayne Bent’s son, also signed Esther’s statement as a witness.

The Strong City cult has posted its own video of the interview at its website.

“It’s not my heart’s desire for Esther to fast on the level she is and taking it to this length,” said Jeff Bent.  “But that’s her conviction, and she’s really acting out how we all feel about this injustice, and we’re going to fight it.”

But the written statement didn’t work.  Ten hours after Eyewitness News 4’s Jeremy Jojola sat down with her, Union County deputies handed Esther a judge’s order demanding she get into an ambulance to receive medical attention.  The video was posted online by cult members.

Esther’s older sister, who is no longer part of the cult, got the order to keep Esther from harming herself.  Elsa Sayer is also a former member of the Strong City Cult.  She has no problem with deputies hauling Esther off to the hospital
[…]

It was Sayer’s two daughters who climbed into Wayne Bent’s bed naked, leading to the charges against him.  Sayer hopes now that Bent is gone, his followers will see the light.
[…]

There are 45 people remaining in the Strong City compound, according to Jeff Bent.  No one has moved away since his father was sent to prison.
[…]

– Source: Bent follower talks about death wish, Jeremy Jojola, Eyewitness News 4, and Kurt Christopher, KOB.com, Feb. 1, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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This post was last updated: Feb. 3, 2009