Cult leader's case headed to jury

KOB News, New Mexico/October 21, 2008

A judge has decided to send the case of a self-styled messiah who is charged with molesting two young girls to a jury.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Judge Gerald E. Baca has ruled that he won't hear from the two girls that Wayne Bent is accused of touching while lying with them in a bed.

Bent, the leader of a cult that lives together in Strong City north of Clayton in Union County, contends that his actions were religious rather than sexual.

Bent was arrested in May and charged with fondling the girls.

The cult leader warns on his website that God will leave New Mexico a "burned field," because of his prosecution. He says he's been working on the entreaty for nearly two months.

Bent also says he is going on a hunger strike. The first week, he says he will eat one meal a day. The second week he will only drink juice and on the third, only water. After October 31, he says he won't eat or drink again until he is in heaven.

Bent says neither he nor his followers will commit suicide, but writes they are "leaving this world."

Bent says all of this is in protest of the way he is being treated by the state. His trial is scheduled to start November 17.

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