Follower urges Richardson to free Bent

KRQE News, New Mexico/January 3, 2009

Union City, New Mexico - Followers of convicted cult leader Wayne Bent are asking Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., to release the self proclaimed messiah.

The request, from a follower who identifies herself as "Hanifa Travesser," was posted on the Strong City Cult's website Saturday morning.

Bent received an 18 year prison sentence Tuesday for misconduct with two underage female followers back at his church's Union City compound back in 2006. Eight years of the sentence were suspended.

Bent admitted that he lied naked with two underage girls, but insists the contact was religious in nature.

"Governor, I am writing you to ask you to intervene on behalf of Mr. Bent. If anyone has the authority to release Mr. Bent, thereby repenting of the state's crimes against him, you do," Travesser wrote on the cult's website.

In the meantime, Bent has ended his religious fast by eating lunch Friday at the state prison in Los Lunas.

He had previously vowed the fast would be indefinite.

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