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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Mexico Authorities Remove 3 Children From Church Compound

Three children have been removed from a Strong City Compound which is for The Lord Our Righteousness Church after allegations of sexual abuse of minors came from an April 21-22 investigation.
Two girls and one boy, all under the age of 18, have been removed from Strong City compound which is located in northeastern New Mexico after an investigation which started on April 22, 2008, when allegations of inappropriate contact between minors and the adult leader of The Lord Our Righteousness Church, Wayne Bent, 66, who is also identified on the church's Web site as Michael Travesser.

A fourth child agreed to be interviewed by Children, Youth and Families Department. The girl used to live on the compound but now lives elsewhere with her parents.

The Lord Our Righteousness Church is called a "doomsday cult" and an "apocalyptic church", in reports from Associated Press and United Press International.

According to Romaine Serna, who is a spokesperson for Children, Youth and Families Department, the state police did not meet with any resistance when taking the children and goes on to say that she wasn't aware of any other youths at the compound.

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.

According to the Strong City website for The Lord Our Righteousness Church, Bent/Travesser states, "There was never any child molestation, or adult molestation by anyone, including myself. There has never been “sex with minors” or anything remotely approaching that, and, I was never the initiator in any of the events. The Father in heaven came down upon each one who came to me to ask of me what they had been given to ask. And I never did what was asked, until the Father in heaven instructed me to do what had been asked of me, as well.

Serna said two children removed from the ranch were placed in foster homes, and one accepted voluntary placement, which usually means with a friend or relative.

From United Press International:

Bent and members of The Lord Our Righteousness Church are featured in an episode of the show "Inside" to be broadcast May 7 on the National Geographic Channel. In a clip of the show, two young females tell of lying naked with Bent, who has denied having sex with minors.

State officials have declined to reveal what information or from what source they received on April 21, 2008, that led to the removal of the children.