Judge puts fasting cult leader in doctor's hands

KOB News 4, New Mexico/September 24, 2009

A Los Lunas judge will let doctors decide if the state needs to force-feed hunger-striking cult leader Wayne Bent.

Bent was convicted, he says falsely, for molesting an underage member of his cult. When Bent's appeal was denied, he began fasting. He said he wouldn't break bread with a justice system he felt was unjust.

A doctor for the state testified Wednesday that if the fast continues, Bent's vital organs will shut down and he would die in a matter of days.

"He would stand perhaps a ten percent chance of expiring from it on Friday, perhaps a 50 percent chance within eight days of beginning that fast," the doctor said.

After nearly three hours of testimony, the judge said the argument came down to one question-not if, but when Wayne Bent will die. He will allow Bent to continue his fast unless a doctor decides to intervene by inserting a feeding tube.

Bent's son, Jeff Bent, says no matter what, his father will not spend the next decade in a jail cell.

"He resolved to have justice or he isn't going to live and a feeding tube won't change that in the long term. It'll change it in the short term," he said.

Bent's family says they don't plan to appeal the decision.

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