Cross examination of Dr. Ned Seigel

Michael Travesser / Wayne Bent at sunset

Cross examination of Dr. Ned Seigel - By Senior Trial Prosecutor, Emilio Chavez, plus cross by Sara Montoya, Defense Attorney

Judge Baca: We are on the record, on December eleventh, two thousand eight at nine zero two A.M. (9:02) in the matter entitled State of New Mexico, Plaintiff versus Wayne Bent, Defendant. This is Union County Cause Number CR200825. Attorneys for the State of New Mexico are present. Attorney for Defendant is present and the Defendant is present in person. This is day four of the jury trial. The jury is all assembled and waiting in the jury room. Before we bring in the jury, does the State have any matters they wish to raise at this point and time?

Emilio Chavez: Not at this time, your Honor.

Judge Baca: Alright. Anything on behalf of the Defense?

Ms. Montoya: No, your Honor.

Judge Baca: Ok. Dr. Seigel, you were on the witness stand, let’s go ahead and have you back to the stand. To mind you that you are under oath. And I believe we’re ready to start cross, is that correct?

Emilio Chavez: That’s correct, your Honor.

Judge Baca: Alright. Are we ready for the jury then?

Emilio Chavez: Yes, your Honor.

Judge Baca: Let’s bring the jury. All rise.

Jury enters the courtroom.

Judge Baca: Alright. Please be seated. Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the jury. I hope you had a restful night. We’re prepared to continue with evidence today. Dr. Seigel is the witness in the stand and we are prepared for cross examination by the State. And you may proceed.

Emilio Chavez: Thank you, your Honor. Good morning, doctor.

Dr. Seigel: Good morning.

Emilio Chavez: How are you doing this morning?

Dr. Seigel: Good.

Emilio Chavez: Alright. Let’s just start off. You talked a little bit about on direct examination yesterday, you testified and six to ten times over twenty-nine years. Is that correct?

Dr. Seigel: (Begins to respond)

Emilio Chavez: ... in trials, six to ten times every year for twenty-nine years.

Dr. Seigel: Yeah, give or take.

Emilio Chavez: Couple hundred?

Dr. Seigel: Yeah.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. Approximately out of those times, how many times have you testified for the Defense?

Dr. Seigel: Oh, probably over the last several years, it’s probably been a little bit, about two to one for the Prosecution and for the Defense in years past, it’s been more for one side than the other. But it, you know, my saying is that, "I’ve testified for the Prosecution south of I Forty (I 40) and for the Defense, north of I Forty." No particular reason, I just know people up here and down there. It doesn’t really matter.

Emilio Chavez: So, up here you’ve testified more for the Defense?

Dr. Seigel: Yeah, I just know people and more Defense attorneys.

Emilio Chavez: Fair enough, fair enough. And do you get paid for your work?

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Emilio Chavez: And do you have an hourly rate?

Dr. Seigel: I do.

Emilio Chavez: What is your hourly rate?

Dr. Seigel: Two twenty-five. Although, when I do things for the State, either Prosecution or Public Defender, I also do a daily rate. If I travel, so it comes out a little less than that if I have to stay overnight or what have you.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. And have you been traveling in this case? Have you been traveling back and forth, from Santa Fe to Taos?

Dr. Seigel: I do, but you know, it’s just an hour... or a little more.

Emilio Chavez: I was going to say that’s pretty fast if it’s just an hour.

Dr. Seigel: Well, I haven’t gotten any tickets in the last week.

(Laughter in the courtroom)

Emilio Chavez: Well, that’s good doctor. And yesterday in your cross examination, or in your direct examination, you talked a little bit about, that you know Dr. Dinsmore.

Dr. Seigel: I do.

Emilio Chavez: And you had the opportunity to view her testimony, before you testified?

Dr. Seigel: Part of it. I got here right around two. So I think she started at one fifteen, so I missed about forty-five minutes. I don’t know what was said in that period of time.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. And you didn’t have the opportunity to hear L.S. or A.S. did you?

Dr. Seigel: No.

Emilio Chavez: Now you talked a little bit, that Dr. Dinsmore, you’ve had an opportunity to review her work in the past?

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Emilio Chavez: And that she’s generally very accurate?

Dr. Seigel: Well, more than generally.

Emilio Chavez: Well, please elaborate.

Dr. Seigel: Well, she’s, she’s a very professional person who, now, speaking specifically about the testing, always would be accurate. Sometimes, we’ll check the other guy’s work, but with her work I probably wouldn’t even double check it, except on a cursory manner, cause I know that she would do it accurately. In a situation like this, it’s about the collateral sources that may inform her correctly or incorrectly.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. And let’s start talking about some of those collateral sources and before we get there, there’s an aspect that you talked about generally when you review somebody’s work, you get the raw data or data?

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Emilio Chavez: Why do you look for the raw data?

Dr. Seigel: Really just to double check their work as they would do mine to see if it’s done correctly and to see if the interpretation would be one that would be standard and agreed upon.

(cellphone sound)

Emilio Chavez: I apologize. Just one second.

Dr. Seigel: Not a problem. I made sure to turn mine off today.

Judge Baca: I appreciate it.

Emilio Chavez: I apologize to everyone in the courtroom. So, part of that raw data though, is the analysis, all the things that they did, in coming to form their report. Is that correct?

Dr. Seigel: Yes, again, when I speak of raw data, I’m talking about the testing material, testing results.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. So you didn’t get to see the testing results of A.S. in this case?

Dr. Seigel: No.

Emilio Chavez: You talked about some other things that you didn’t get to see, that Dr. Dinsmore used. You said you didn’t get to see the Strong City web site?

Dr. Seigel: Correct.

Emilio Chavez: You didn’t get to see an online blog that she referred to?

Dr. Seigel: Correct.

Emilio Chavez: You didn’t get to see ah... the notes from the Children Youth and Family Department?

Dr. Seigel: I did not.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. You didn’t get to see the transcript of an interview that Sarah Montoya did of both children?

Dr. Seigel: Correct.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. You didn’t get an opportunity to review the indictment?

Dr. Seigel: I did not.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. Is that important in making a determination in this case?

Dr. Seigel: Ah... not so much the indictment, I generally know what it said. The transcript of the interviews might have been useful. As far as the blogs and the website, you know I don’t know if that would be helpful or not. I have no clue about that.

Emilio Chavez: But this is a lot of other collateral information that may be important?

Dr. Seigel: Could be.

Emilio Chavez: You said you mostly saw the Safe Room of A.S.

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Emilio Chavez: You didn’t, as of yesterday during Direct, you hadn’t watched the Safe Room of L.S.?

Dr. Seigel: No.

Emilio Chavez: So, you didn’t know how she responded in the Safe Room with Kat Duff?

Dr. Seigel: That’s correct.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. You hadn’t heard the things that she may have said involving this case?

Dr. Seigel: Correct.

Emilio Chavez: So, doctor, remind us, because it was yesterday... Who are the people that you talked to that Dr. Dinsmore did not talk to?"

Dr. Seigel: Ah... let me see their names, a woman named Aliah, who was the young women’s grandmother, Liberty, Tiara, Deanna and Jeff Bent.

Emilio Chavez: And Jeff Bent?

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. And were you present during Dr. Melton’s testimony?

Dr. Seigel: I was.

Emilio Chavez: And do you recall him talking and it was Ms. Montoya on Direct, do you recall him talking about the importance of talking to both ex-members and current members?

Dr. Seigel: Correct.

Emilio Chavez: And do you agree with his determination that sometimes current members only focus on the good?

Dr. Seigel: Well it would be better in general to get all sides of the story. You know, what’s the old soap opera thing, there’s two sides to every story? There’s way more than two sides. Everybody has their own story and so we understand that when you do an evaluation, even if you’re talking with one single person, bias, viewpoints, perceptions are built in.

Emilio Chavez: So you talked to Wayne Bent’s son, Jeff Bent?

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Emilio Chavez: You talked to several other members of the cult?

Dr. Seigel: Correct.

Emilio Chavez: I apologize... of the group. You talked to... Did you talk to any former members?

Dr. Seigel: No. Again, I named the people I spoke to.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. You never talked to any, to either one of the children?

Dr. Seigel: No.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. You didn’t perform any testing?

Dr. Seigel: No.

Emilio Chavez: Did you do any independent research of the background of anybody you talked to?

Dr. Seigel: Ah... independent research, only in the extent that I became a little bit familiar with the general notion of this church by looking at that website, that documentary. I printed off a few things from Wikipedia. They had a entry maybe one or two things, but not terribly familiar with it. My position here was to review Dr. Dinsmore’s work and perhaps inform the jury and the Court of the things that perhaps she had missed or had been misinformed about that I was, rather than evaluating the group as a whole.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. And one of the people that you talked to was A.S.'s and L.S.'s grandmother?

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Emilio Chavez: And that impacted your determination in this case significantly?

Dr. Seigel: I haven’t made any determinations.

Emilio Chavez: Well, that allowed you to make a different, have a different perspective than Dr. Dinsmore, based on talking to the grandmother?

Dr. Seigel: Well, not so much her, all of them. Again, it is certainly the case as I stated earlier that given the background that I had had, looking at the video, the little information that I had, that I too had a notion of what I would encounter when I spoke to these people. And I really ended up with a different viewpoint. So, yes I was influenced and what my perceptions would have been by their information.

Emilio Chavez: Now, who would give you a better description of the two girls, somebody that lived with them almost the entire time of their life or people that lived with them off and on during their life and may not had direct contact?

Dr. Seigel: I don’t know who’d be better, some might have more. I don’t know that you could say better. They would be the best, well in some ways they’re a good source of information but it comes from them, their perception. Other people will have perceptions of them that will be different, not necessarily wrong, but different.

Emilio Chavez: So your explanation in your testimony is based on the perception of the members that you talked to that were part of this group?

Dr. Seigel: That is correct.

Emilio Chavez: Now you talked about, a little bit yesterday, what a person says is the least reliable information. I think that’s what you said. What an individual, maybe you used the word, individual. What an individual says is the least reliable information. That you have to go to outside sources, talk to other people?

Dr. Seigel: I don’t recall saying that. You might give me a context. That doesn’t sound sensible, but maybe I did.

Emilio Chavez: I thought it didn’t sound sensible and that’s why I was asking.

Dr. Seigel: You may be right. I try not to say nonsense. But, who knows?

(Laughter in the courtroom)

Emilio Chavez: Ok. Now another key component that you focused on a little bit was this idea of grooming.

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Emilio Chavez: In Dr. Dinsmore’s report, was that the preeminent determination that she made? Was she focusing on grooming with Wayne Bent?

Dr. Seigel: What it seemed to me, if you asked me, that in answering that question, that that was one of the key elements and it tied in with her overall notion that indeed he was the kind of leader, if you will, and, in fact, I expected to find, the charismatic with a small "c," sorta paranoid, narcissistic individual, who are usually leaders of such groups. Dr. Melton used slightly different terms, because he’s coming at it, more from, I guess, a sociological, theological perspective. A psychologist would use slightly different terms, but they mean the same thing. And so I expected to see these characteristics in this man. I have a slightly different viewpoint of him because of my information. Dr. Dinsmore seems to see him more as I had originally thought I would, as this kind of classic, despotic ruler, with a fairly strong hand, a very self-centered guy, who protects his flock, if you will, against incursions from the outside, being somewhat paranoid, and charismatic in that personality sense.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. So let’s talk about that. Are you familiar with where Clayton, New Mexico is?

Dr. Seigel: Vaguely on the map, I don’t believe I’ve ever been there.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. And you are aware that it’s a relatively small town?

Dr. Seigel: I gather.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. You are aware that this, the land for Strong City is approximately forty miles from Clayton?

Dr. Seigel: Yeah. Actually somebody told me that and I actually looked on a map the other day. I don’t know that I even looked at the map of New Mexico that closely for that part of the state, but I gather there’s pretty much nothing up there.

Emilio Chavez: So the land that they’re on is rather isolated?

Dr. Seigel: I gather.

Emilio Chavez: That may be a small component of what you just said as far as isolating people.

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Emilio Chavez: Let’s talk about nakedness. Among the other members of the group or opposite sex, did they ever talk about being naked with Mr. Bent?

Dr. Seigel: The notion they conveyed to me that nakedness was more of a metaphor and a parable, really coming from the Bible and I even said to one of them, I hope that I didn’t have to start studying the Bible in preparation for my testimony. So, I was relying on their reference points. That, being naked, is more imagery, not literal nakedness, although, apparently in this situation, as I understand it and I was a little confused at first, myself, when the girls lie naked, where they actually unclothe, versus being spiritually naked. And I come to understand that we are talking also literal disrobing. If I, am I correct on that?

Emilio Chavez: That’s correct doctor. And that’s why I’m relating this to the grooming aspect. So we haven’t heard anything about nakedness outside of Wayne Bent’s bedroom.

Dr. Seigel: Yes. That’s, as far as I know, that’s correct.

Emilio Chavez: And we have two young girls that come to Wayne Bent’s house and go to his bedroom and disrobe.

Dr. Seigel: That is what I understand.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. And this doesn’t appear to be any type of grooming behavior, having young girls come and be naked in his bedroom?

Dr. Seigel: Well, let’s answer it this way... Grooming for what? Certainly the argument can be made and it looks fairly obvious that, well, this is where this guy’s going. He’s grooming these girls for sex, when guys get girls naked in their room, that’s the general idea. Two things in reference to what I said yesterday, the idea that ordinarily if that is the case, and he is the perpetrator and these are his targets, people usually move ahead much more efficiently and effectively. He’s had young women in his crosshairs or could have for many years. He hadn’t done it, so that’s one clue that he’s not grooming them for sex. The other thing is, grooming for what? And if it is grooming, whether or not one agrees with it or not, for some sort of spiritual experience, that too is grooming. So we don’t know what the outcome was, cause it never got there, but it certainly could have been. That was the track that this was their religious spiritual experience, that was not gonna culminate in sex.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. and let’s key on that word that you said, "ordinarily." So based on your training and experience, you’re saying normally it happens a lot quicker.

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Emilio Chavez: You can’t say that this wasn’t the process that was happening?

Dr. Seigel: Certainly not. He could have had a unique, inefficient, ineffective way of pulling this off, but ordinarily that is not the case. There is a pattern to such behaviors. This didn’t really fit the pattern.

Emilio Chavez: Now I remember thinking about, when I went home and thought about what you said yesterday. In your office you said there’s never a first time.

Dr. Seigel: That’s right.

Emilio Chavez: I go, I went home and I looked up that show, the Predator show.

Dr. Seigel: "To Catch a Predator."

Emilio Chavez: And sure enough, the first guy they show, "this is the only time I’ve done this."

Dr. Seigel: All of them.

Emilio Chavez: All of them.

Dr. Seigel: Right.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. Can there be a first time?

Dr. Seigel: Well, obviously in real time there has to be a first time.

Emilio Chavez: What is the, what is your point about there’s never a first time and referencing that show?

Dr. Seigel: Oh, we always hear these guys say, "Oh this is the first time I did it." Yes, it is true that we take a very close clinical history. We can get back to the first time and how they built up to it and how they finally got to their goal, but when you, that would be somebody you’d be seeing who first approached this mid twenties, when they start to develop their perversion of whatever sort. It would be very very unusual to find someone at his age to be developing for the first time, this kind of behavior outside the exceptions that I brought up, a deterioration in mental functioning, you know, the dirty old man idea, when you really become senile or have Alzheimer’s and you lose frontal lobe functioning. If that were the case and I believe this is happened now, I forget what year, a couple years back his deterioration would have continued and we would have seen the significant indicators of mental deterioration in somebody his age, which wouldn’t be impossible. I don’t know that that’s not the case, but I don’t believe that it is. As far as I know he’s still mentally functioning quite well.

Emilio Chavez: Now, let’s talk about what you said on that, what was it, close clinical history of something? Have you done a close clinical history of Wayne Bent?

Dr. Seigel: No.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. Now, again let’s talk about that change in mindset. So you said it’s a mental deterioration is what you usually see?

Dr. Seigel: Yes. Brain deterioration.

Emilio Chavez: Brain deterioration.

Dr. Seigel: You know when an older person starts to act funny. Discontrol functions. And that’s the beginning of dementia, whether it’s Alzheimer’s or some other form of senility, doesn’t really matter, but that’s what we start to see.

Emilio Chavez: Is there other transformations that a person can go through that may lead to this?

Dr. Seigel: An illness can lead there. Again, I’m talking about the brain. So leaving that category, could a person be transformed sorta psychologically and do that? Yeah... it’s possible, but you just don’t expect to see that, where a person has some psychological trauma, usually when bad things happen to people they resolve to live a better life than a worse life, but I suppose one could go another direction, have some sort of awakening, if you will and decide that acting out sexually in an inappropriate fashion is the way to go. I’d have to really think about a scenario in which that would be plausible but it’s possible I suppose.

Emilio Chavez: Let’s talk about an awakening. You mention an awakening. You’ve heard a little bit about the history and transformation of Wayne Bent and Michael Travesser?

Dr. Seigel: No, I don’t. I haven’t.

Emilio Chavez: You haven’t explored that at all?

Dr. Seigel: No. The only thing I know is there’s some notion that one of the notes I have that Michael Travesser was some person who’s dead and I don’t really know anything about that. I don’t know what that name means or where it came from or any of that.

Emilio Chavez: You do know that Wayne Bent is also referred to as Michael Travesser?

Dr. Seigel: I do. Again I don’t know really what the deal is with that.

Emilio Chavez: Have you ever heard the expression, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?"

Dr. Seigel: I believe, even though that’s attributed to Machiavelli, I believe it was Lord Acton, who said that. I was trying to think of who said that the other day. You just triggered my memory.

Emilio Chavez: Ok. Do you ever see any abuses, not necessarily sexual, but anything that may happen as a person increases in power?

Dr. Seigel: We absolutely expect that, playing off the word, absolute power corrupts. Yeah, that’s just more or less a given and it would be, from a clinical standpoint, fairly unusual if someone had that kind of power and didn’t exercise it in a self serving way.

Emilio Chavez: Thank you very much doctor.

Judge Baca: Re-direct?

Ms. Montoya: Dr. Seigel, when you reviewed Dr. Dinsmore’s report, her report was based upon all the information she received. Correct?

Dr. Seigel: Correct.

Ms. Montoya: So you had her report, based on all the information she received,plus you had additional information?

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: So, in fact, you had both sides. You had the side she explored,plus you heard the other side of the story?

Dr. Seigel: Yes.

Ms. Montoya: She did not review the other side of the story from what you read her report, did she?

Dr. Seigel: Yes. And that was my concern that her source of information was what it was, but where was other information to help round that out and that’s really my role is to say there’s another side to this. There are other credible data that challenged her statements.

Ms. Montoya: And with regard to the Prosecutor’s question about whether or not you talked to L.S. and A.S., is it your understanding that Dr. Dinsmore didn’t talk to L.S. either?

Dr. Seigel: Yes, that she refused to speak and that really they didn’t say anything of clinical utility.

Ms. Montoya: And you’re not here today to say Dr. Dinsmore was wrong, are you?

Dr. Seigel: No. As I said earlier, I, normally she and I are on, really just as, here’s the other side of the story. Here’s some other parts to inform the jury, not to say anything about what Dr. Dinsmore produced. It is what it was. Here’s some additional data that the jury might like to hear.

Ms. Montoya: And is it your understanding that the children lived full time with their mom and dad?

Dr. Seigel: I’m sorry.

Ms. Montoya: Is it your understanding that the children in question lived full time with mom and dad?

Dr. Seigel: My understanding was that that came and went. That, one of the questions that I had was that after the Sayers left for their own reasons... Again, at my understanding was they were not banished or exiled is the word, but that they left for business purposes, that soon thereafter, one of the girls and then the other girl, I forget which came first, returned to the land. And my question was, "What was the role of the parents in allowing underage girls that kind of authority and independence?" And I did ask about that. And they said, "Yes, they did return with the parent’s blessing."

Ms. Montoya: So is it fair to say that grandmother, who was present with them on the land, might know just as much, or even possibly more, than mom and dad?

Dr. Seigel: Well, grandparents are often in that position. Sure.

Ms. Montoya: And the bottom line is this, Dr. Dinsmore didn’t say he was grooming the girls did she?

Dr. Seigel: Ah... you know... without looking at her report, I guess what she probably said was that kind of behavior would be consistent with or could have been something along those lines, without remembering how to quote it exactly.

Ms. Montoya: And based upon the information you received, you’re saying his pattern of behavior does not fit the criteria for a groomer?

Dr. Seigel: Well, that, plus, I guess the major thing that I heard from them is this idea that Dr. Dinsmore was developing of him being this kinda typical leader, as I described earlier, that what I heard was that the group itself had much more individual, as well as group authority. That he was not the sole boss, if you want to use that term, that they had government. They didn’t use that term with me, "new government," but I asked them about several things that Dr. Dinsmore had in her report and they said, "Oh no, the group made the decision" and that each person is much more independent, than I had previously thought I would find. So, again, it turned my notion of what I expected to find, say this is a much more egalitarian or democratic group and, in fact, the notion of him being this Messiah was also a question, but no, everyone is a Messiah. The message of God comes through everyone. He may be of greater personage, personality. He may have more seniority. I’m not sure all the qualities that lead him to being, quote,"the leader." I suspect it’s more personality than anything else. But, he, at least, according to what I heard, not in a formal sense, idolized. Individuals might idolize him, but individuals do that fairly easily under many circumstances.

Ms. Montoya: And the Prosecutor brought up the idea of first time, because you talked about that yesterday about never having a first time. What is the likelihood based upon your experience and your knowledge and years of knowledge that the first time would occur at age sixty-five?

Dr. Seigel: Well, it’d be very low. You can’t be zero, but it’d be down there. It’d be quite surprising and again the clinical thing one would look for, would be some deterioration that would cause a shift, countering that with, if it’s not the first time, there would have been a history of such things really for years.

Ms. Montoya: Thank you.

Judge Baca: Alright, is there any need for the doctor to remain on call?

Emilio Chavez: Not on behalf of the State, your Honor.

Ms. Montoya: No, your Honor.

Judge Baca: Alright. Then doctor, you are permanently excused.

Dr. Seigel: Thank you.

Judge Baca: Thank you for your testimony.

Back to Transcripts menu

To return to the trial "transcripts menu," click the "Trial" tab at the top of this page.