Grace Travesser's statement of support

Michael Travesser / Wayne Bent at sunset

Thank you for this opportunity to speak to the unjust trial and sentencing of Wayne Bent. There are many issues, but I will only be addressing four of them. The injustices perpetrated in this trial have far reaching implications that affect every U.S. citizen, regardless of their beliefs.

First, and foundationally, the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution was violated in Wayne Bent's legal process. Miller v. U.S. 230 F 2d 486, 489, states, "The claim and exercise of a Constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime." But in the miscarriage of justice that occurred in Wayne Bent's trial proceedings, the judge made the minor girls' freedom of conscience illegal, by insisting on jury instructions1 that made it a crime for them to have followed God's instructions to their souls — to make request of Mr. Bent, their long-time friend and pastor, for healing in the specific way that God had given them to ask him for it. The request by L.S. (Healed) whose heart and soul had been hurt, having been molested by a family friend as an adolescent while living with her parents, was granted by the physician of the heart and soul that God appointed and anointed for her. He did not violate any sacred trust given him, and no state or federal law was broken. Also, the request of Mr. Bent from A.S., who told him that God had told her to ask this of him, was granted in the very same careful, solicitous way. Likewise, Mr. Bent's freedom of conscience was made to be illegal by the jury instructions that made it into a crime for him to have followed God's personal instructions to him — which were to receive the girls at their request, instead of sending them away. The State was out of its boundaries to decide Mr. Bent's calling and anointing by God to heal the soul was illegal.2

The Court ruled in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 87 L. Ed. 1628, 63 S. Ct. 1178 (1943), "...[F]reedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

Secondly, no law was broken. The testimonies of the witnesses in Mr. Bent's legal proceedings were sufficient to prove this. After gathering all the citings I could find in the trial transcripts where the actual place of touching was talked about by the witnesses for the State and the Defense, it is obvious that a crime had to be fabricated, for none was actually committed, based on the State's own laws. But what was broken, was society's ideas, which according to the Constitution is not a crime. The Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 109 S.Ct. 2533, 105 L.Ed.2d 342 (1989) said, "A bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment is that Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable." In Wayne Bent's trial the "offensive and disagreeable" idea was nakedness. It was also an "offensive and disagreeable" idea that the nakedness was spiritual and not sexual. These healing events were made into a crime by the judge inserting his personal opinions about nakedness into the jury instructions, making nakedness illegal, and overriding the legitimate and repeated objections of counsel for the Defense. The State refused to acknowledge that nakedness is a separate issue from sexuality. The contrived, prejudicial jury instructions and the resultant charges made against Mr. Bent were based solely on the imaginings, surmisings and hostility of his accusers, who projected onto him what their own motives, reactions and hormones might have been, given the situation that Mr. Bent was put in by the girls' requests. So an innocent man was condemned to life in prison, with no proof for the charges against him. 

Thirdly, there was much deceit, lying, misrepresentation and prejudice that I observed with the legal system in this case, and it emerged right from the beginning of the legal process when Jessie Williams, the state policeman, lied3 about what "the girls said" while interrogating Mr. Bent, trying to get him to incriminate himself. The list of the infractions from the trial process is too long to detail here, so I will cite just a few examples: 

Before the Grand Jury indictment, in the safe room interview, A.S. — the girl Mr. Bent was convicted on — said, "But he wouldn't touch anybody, he wouldn't touch us sexually..."4 This tape was played for the Grand Jury. And even though the DA knew of this clarification by A.S., he continued to charge Wayne Bent with sexually touching her, by saying and writing in the court records that Wayne Bent kissed this underage girl's "breasts" when in both the safe room and the discovery interviews she said he did not touch her breasts.

The DA withheld key and crucial pieces of evidence pointing to Wayne Bent's innocence, from the Grand Jury. The girls were requested to testify in person by the Defense, and would have given the Grand Jury a clear picture of what happened, had they been allowed to. But DA Gallegos did not present that, or any, requested evidence from the Defense to the Grand Jury, deeming it "irrelevant" and not "exculpatory." This Brady violation5 clearly infringed upon the Grand Jury's decision-making function.

Defense requested that the judge hold an in-camera interview with each alleged victim to hear their testimony and determine whether the case even needed to go to trial. The judge refused. (It should be noted that evidentiary hearings are a common practice and conducted to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to hold the defendant for trial.)

On the first day, the State made a motion to exclude from the trial some key Defense's Witnesses' Testimonies, stating, "...this is a repeat, irrelevant, improper character testimony, cumulative in nature." In going through the Defense's witness list, the judge excluded testimony that was very relevant and absolutely pertinent to the case. The judge said of the girls' grandmother, who was a witness, "I don't find her testimony is material or relevant, and I'll strike her testimony and not permit her to testify. The aunt of the girls, Misty Renee Sayer, the same." This was an obstruction of justice, as it was known that the aunt was one of the seven virgins. She had also asked for and was granted the spiritual experience of laying naked, and was healed from a prior molestation experience. Her testimony, therefore, was very relevant as to the nature of these healing events. Excluding it was highly prejudicial to the defendant's case.

The witnesses for both sides stated that Wayne Bent DID NOT touch any sexual parts, on either girl's body, as described by the CSCM statute. Months before the trial, L.S. wrote two letters to the DA stating that nothing about the healing experience was sexual in any way. These letters were submitted to the jury as evidence.6 A.S. used the word "breast" as in "chest" (clavicle sternum area) to describe where she received spiritual touch. When asked to clarify, she told Ms. Montoya,7 "Right, right above the breast. I don't know what you would call it." But this clarification was ignored by the State, and the case was taken to trial, the prosecution insisting in court that criminal sexual contact of a minor must have happened, even though there was NO evidence by their own witnesses that it did. The testimony of the State's own witnesses and the testimony of the defendant, which clearly matched, was not believed. 

Throughout the trial, Ms. Montoya, Wayne Bent's attorney, maintained her objection to the language in the jury instructions as prejudicial, but was overridden by Judge Baca's stated opinion in the matter. This too was a noted prejudice which arose again and again, tainting the trial process.

Fourthly, according to New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct, prosecutorial misconduct8 was manifested in Wayne Bent's trial by duplicity, deceit and prejudice from the beginning and continues today. Healed wrote a letter to the district attorney's office clarifying something she had said earlier. This clarification did not help the state's "story" of the case, and she was then called "the little bitch" by one of the DAs there. a

Senior Trial Prosecutor Chavez told 40 lies a just in his closing arguments alone, some of which were:

  • ... he [Mr. Bent] touched their intimate parts, their breasts.
  • ... And again, A.S. said, "Yes. He kissed me on the round fleshy part of my breast."
  • ... laying naked is a sexual contact.
  • ... he [Mr. Bent] said ... if she'd asked me to rob a bank, I couldn't refuse her request.
  • ... and when he put his hand on the heart he was touching part of L.S.'s breast, part of L.S.'s breast.
  • During this interaction of over a half an hour, you have the sexual contact, as testified by L.S. and not denied by Mr. Bent.
  • A.S. also said that he embraced me, laid with his bare chest on my abdomen area ...
  • ... he's misused that position to coerce these two young girls to come into his bed, where he then had a sexual contact with both L.S. and A.S.
Citings from the transcripts reveal that the foregoing insinuations, innuendo, and misstatements are outright lies.a And during those same closing arguments, even though Judge Baca said, "There's no evidence to support that there was ever a touching of the breast,"9 Chavez continued his construals that cannot justly be upheld as true, because witness testimony does not support his words. He subtly changed witness testimony to influence and steer the thinking of the jury to convict the innocent. By Chavez' frequent misstating of the evidence, he caused the jury to become confused. I believe this was on purpose to sway the jury and "win" the case, but it was in complete violation of the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys, as well as Mr. Benavidez' improper opening statements a that also infected the fairness of the trial.a These things were extremely prejudicial to the Defendant, denying him a fair trial.
aFrom New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 16-804 Misconduct:
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice
It is quite obvious that the prosecution formed their case by conjecture, bias and imagination, deliberately presenting a false picture of events for the jury, in order to make a non-sexual event look like a sexual event. Coupled with the judge's duplicity in stating, "There's no evidence to support that there was ever a touching of the breast,"9 and then allowing the State to continue their dishonest and prejudicial proceedings, he then gave an exorbitant sentence to the defendant,10 stating it was to make "an example" of him for allowing minors to be naked in his presence instead of sending them away and for sexually touching A.S., when he knew very well he hadn't. This sentence was issued in blatant disregard of the facts and testimony from the State's own witnesses and Judge Baca's own previous statement. This professional misconduct is inexcusable. It sent an innocent man to prison and affected many lives.
The judge and his legal associates failed to carry out their oath of office which states, "I, ___, solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and the laws of the State of New Mexico and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of ____ on which I am about to enter, to the best of my ability, SO HELP ME GOD."
My purpose in writing here does not come out of a need to support a cause, but out of a heartfelt gratefulness for the God-given sacrifice that Wayne Bent has made for me personally, and for his faithful shepherding of our church family. It is a small, very small, contribution of love and thankfulness. If fair, impartial justice had been handed down, I would be the first to say so, because I serve a God of integrity and truthfulness. But because it was not, I am giving everything I have to see that my brother and friend's unjust conviction and sentence is rescinded that he may be released.
Grace Travesser
15Tr6 lines 2-9, 5Tr6 1-10
2Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421, 432 (U.S. 1962) "Religion is too personal, too sacred, too holy, to permit its 'unhallowed perversion' by civil magistrate."
3Police Lying
4A.S. "Safe Room" interview tape, April 23, 2008
5BRADY v. MARYLAND, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) "Suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused who has requested it violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution."
6L.S.'s Letters to the DA
7A.S. Discovery Interview, August 14, 2008 by attorney Sarah Montoya asking Ashleey to clarify exactly where Mr. Bent had touched her:
    A.S.: Right, right above the breast.
    Sarah: Right above the breast?
    A.S.: Yeah, when I mean right there, I don't know what you would call it, the upper breast.
    Sarah: OK, the clavicle.
8Prosecutorial misconduct, legal definition:
    "An illegal act or failing to act, on the part of a prosecutor, especially an attempt to sway the jury to wrongly convict a defendant or to impose a harsher than appropriate punishment." Webster's New World Law Dictionary Copyright © 2010
912/12/08 Closing arguments, bench conference
10Sentencing hearing, December 30, Judge Baca

aFrom New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 16-804 Misconduct:
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice

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