Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Messiah Arrested for Child Abuse

Another sad story about a religious person accused of abusing children:
State police have removed three children from an apocalyptic church whose leader claims to be the Messiah and acknowledges having sex with some of his followers.

The two girls and one boy -- all younger than 18 -- were taken from the northeastern New Mexico compound after an April 22 investigation, said Romaine Serna, a spokeswoman for the state Children, Youth and Families Department, on Wednesday.

She said a fourth child, a girl, agreed to be interviewed by the department. Serna said that girl had been at the compound but now lives elsewhere with her parents.

The three children were taken into state custody because of allegations of inappropriate contact between minors and the adult leader of the Lord Our Righteousness Church, Serna said.

"I understand that it was very calm, and [state police] did not meet with any resistance," she said. Serna said she wasn't aware of any other youths at the compound.

Serna declined to elaborate because of the ongoing investigation by state police and the district attorney's office. No charges had been filed, she said. The church has at least 70 members, Serna said.

Wayne Bent, 66, who is known in the church as Michael Travesser, established the church at a rural site called Strong City, north of Clayton in extreme northeastern New Mexico. He said God anointed him Messiah in July 2000.

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