The self-proclaimed messiah of a northern New Mexico doomsday cult said recently that "he is ready to go" and "I want to take all of my children with me" in a Web site posting that has caught the attention of law enforcement.
But Wayne C. Bent, 67, denies his remarks indicate that his group is planning a mass suicide.
Bent - indicted earlier this week by a grand jury on charges of sex crimes against children - wrote on his group's Web site Wednesday that "we must leave this world behind, or we would spiritually die as the wicked are spiritually dead."
"I cannot live here, and will not live here just the moment my Father gives me release," he wrote. "The earth is hell, and nothing like the light of my Father's bright domain."
The posting by the leader ofThe Lord Our Righteousness Church has not gone unnoticed by law enforcement.
"It's obviously a concern when somebody hints at assisted suicide," State Police spokesman Peter Olson said. "At this moment, though, we don't have much more evidence than a rambling post on a Web site."
In 2002, State Police and the FBI investigated rumors of a mass suicide at the group's Strong City compound, located near Des Moines in rural Union County. Nothing came out of the investigation and Bent's son, Jeff Bent, told the Journal in a recent interview that such an event was never planned.
Wayne Bent replied to an e-mail request by the Journal for clarification of his post by saying, "from your world, it would surely be a good question."
He then referred to a KRQE-TV Web site link in which he told the television station by e-mail that "we have been accused of planning suicide. But this would never be an option for us, for suicide is the coward's way off of the earth."
Bent was arrested at the compound May 6 by State Police on allegations that he had inappropriate sexual contact with three girls, one of whom would have been 12 at the time of the act.
Bent faces two counts of criminal sexual contact with a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.