New Mexico Apocalyptic Church Leader Michael Travesser Arrested on Sex Charges

State police on Tuesday arrested on sex charges the leader of an apocalyptic sect in northeastern New Mexico.

Wayne Bent was arrested on three charges of criminal sexual contact, said state police spokesman Peter Olson.

There was no immediate information as to whether the alleged victims are minors.

“There was no incident, no commotion, no problems,” Olson said.

The state Children, Youth and Families Department recently removed three children — two girls and a boy, all under 18 — from the compound on a former ranch in a remote area near the New Mexico-Colorado line.

Strong City
Theologically, Strong City and The Lord Our Righteousness Church is a cult of Christianity
Sociologically, the group has cultic elements as well

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Agency officials have said state police and the district attorney’s office were investigating whether there was inappropriate contact between Bent and minors.

Bent, 66, who goes by the name of Michael Travesser, is the leader of The Lord Our Righteousness Church, which moved to the site in 2000.

Bent has acknowledged having sex with followers — including his daughter-in-law — and lying naked with virgins. He said the virgins asked for sex, but he refused.

In a posting on the church’s Web site, he denied that there was any molestation of children or adults at the community, which Bent’s followers call Strong City.

Bent accused the state of kidnapping the children.

A former member of the sect has estimated there are about 50 people on the compound. The three children removed last month are believed to have been the only minors there.

A posting attributed to Bent on the church’s web site on Monday said:

“Jesus had not committed any crimes, so the authorities had to invent some crimes to crucify him over. It is the same for me also. I have committed no crimes, but many crimes are being imagined and concocted in the minds of men to try and kill me again.”

Bent had predicted the end of the world last Oct. 31.

• Original title: New Mexico Apocalyptic Church Leader Arrested on Sex Charges

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday May 6, 2008.
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