Sentencing Part Four, Conclusion
Final Sentencing segment - Includes statement by Wayne Bent, including his prediction of how long he would remain in prison.
Part 4 of 4 sentencing transcript segments
Judge Baca: Anyone else?
Jerry Montillias: My name is Jerry Montillias. I’ve known Bent, Wayne Bent, for twenty-one years. The District Attorney is talked about incarceration, punishment and rehabilitation. If I had not met Wayne Bent, I would be either, incarcerated, or dead, by today, because my life was so immoral. He’s responsible for my rehabilitation and I’m eternally grateful to him for it.
Judge Baca: Thank you sir. Anyone else? Yes, ma’am.
Louise Cline: Your Honor, my name is Louise Cline and I’m fifty-eight years old and I live at Strong City. I’ve known Wayne Bent for nearly twenty years and he has impacted my life to a great degree in many ways. I would like to share some of these things with you. In every circumstance of his life, I have known him to always be honest and this has taught me to be honest. He taught me to look to God in thought, for God inside of my own heart and to always follow him no matter what. Because of this teaching, I am alive and well today and I will share why.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring or summer of two thousand seven (2007.) At the time of the diagnosis, my cancer was an open wound. After that, I began to feel it spreading through my body, which meant I didn’t have long to live. But Wayne has always taught me that God will speak to my heart and that I can always trust him. God told me not to ask for healing or do anything to help myself get well, so I haven’t. I have just trusted my life with God and because of this, I am here and alive today. I should have been dead by now or in a bed on my way out. But here I am, able to live a normal healthy life. God speaks to me just like he speaks to Wayne Bent and the things he has told me to do has saved my physical life, your Honor. I know that I owe the fact that I am alive and well to Wayne, because he is the one who taught me how to hear and listen to God’s voice and follow his leading to my heart. Thank you.
Judge Baca: Thank you, ma’am.
Ms. Montoya: Your Honor, Mrs. Cline is the mother of Prudence Welch and she continues to live on the land.
Judge Baca: Alright, thank you. Yes, sir.
Gabriel Travesser: Your Honor, thank you for this opportunity to address the Court on behalf of my friend. My name is Gabriel Travesser and for over thirty years I have been closely associated with Wayne Bent. I have scrutinized his life, ethics and integrity. And I assert that never in my sixty-four years of living, nowhere in the world that I have traveled have I ever been a witness to such phenomenal and exemplary standards of uprightness, moral integrity and godliness as I have had presented to me in his person. He is the only man I have known in whom I have never observed a breach of integrity in the slightest degree. I have personally witnessed experiences and severe crises that had necessitated his personal intervention and attention and have always observed, often with awe, the fair, wise, Solomon-like manner in which they were resolved. His deportment has always been one of whose primary and only considerations were the honor of his God and the very highest welfare of those to whom he was ministered and with never a consideration for himself.
The nature of his counsel has always been only just that, counsel; never coercive or commanding. I have never witnessed any element of compulsion or even vehementcy (exactly as stated) when he offered his counsel, but always in the fatherly manner of simply informing the person, that, metaphorically, the edge of the cliff that they were standing on was beginning to crumble and they might want to consider moving away from it. He has given of himself to the extent of which it was almost beyond my comprehension that any human could do. And yet, he was always willing to give more, and still more. It became evident that his entire existence was involved in simply giving. It was this exemplary character and inconquerable integrity that originally drew me to him and kept me with him these thirty years. And I know that had I observed a single instance in which that integrity had been violated I would not be here now.
To be a witness to such flawless propriety and wisdom is not an easy matter, especially when one knows that he himself lacks those qualities. But observing the contrast between my own past character and his, caused me to realize my great need of them. That contrast set a standard before me and a knowing that what God had done for Wayne he was very willing to do for me as well.
During a particularly dark period in my life, about twenty years ago, while I was living in Washington State and Wayne was in Idaho, I asked him to watch over a little family that had moved there at my recommendation. I did this because I did not think that I would be around to help them. He immediately knew what was going on with me and wrote back, taking great care not to sympathize with me in my troubles, knowing that such expressions could very likely be the trigger that would push me over the edge to self destruction. It was not until later, after his spiritual counsel had pulled me back from that brink of self-annihilation that I understood the love and wisdom that had saved my life and bonded my heart to him and to God.
Because of his example and guiding influence, I am able to stand before this Court today, rather than lying dead by my own hand. That sir, is really a small part of what Wayne Bent, Michael, has done for me. And it is a gift I can never lose and it can never be taken from me. Thank you.
Judge Baca: Thank you. Ms. Montoya?
Ms. Montoya: Mr. Bent would like to address the Court, your Honor.
Judge Baca: Alright, Mr. Bent you may address the Court.
Wayne Bent: How much time do I have?
Judge Baca: We’re due to stop at ten thirty, but I’ll give you as much time as you need. And if it is getting too long, I’ll let you know.
Wayne Bent: Ok.
Judge Baca: Alright? Try to be brief though.
Wayne Bent: Ok. (long pause)
Judge Baca: You may proceed, Mr. Bent.
Wayne Bent: I can... I can sympathize with the District Attorneys doing their job (speaking tearfully), but they don’t know us. (speaks normally again) And the things that Mr. Gallegos said were all wrong. A.S. was never chased out.
Judge Baca: Let me ask you, Mr. Bent, to address your comments to the Court.
Wayne Bent: I just did that cause he spoke to me a few times.
Judge Baca: Alright.
Wayne Bent: A.S. was never chased out. And there was no requirement of consummation on A.S. And I found out in the trial, most of the information presented was from just our anti-Lorites who hate us and put out... have put out rumors and innuendo for twenty years. And part of that was Prudence, who was brought here. She was a strong supporter for thirteen years.
Judge Baca: Let me stop for a second. I’m sorry to interrupt. Mr. Bent. Jeff Bent, do you have a camera with you?
Jeff Bent: No, sir.
Judge Baca: Ok. Thank you. Alright, you may proceed.
Wayne Bent: ... for about thirteen years. And she didn’t put on her anti-Lorite website, until she had left her husband and found another man for awhile, had a baby, and went back to her husband. These are the things we have to deal with. We have to deal with raising children in real ways. And John and Elsa. John turned to pornography and A.S. turned to pornography and Healed doesn’t want that kind of life. Can’t she get away from that? If she has to just be forced into a compromising her soul by being around spirits that are just pornographic, accurately stated.
All churches have these kind of situations arise, where the pastor has to try and help the people through their difficulties. And it was brought up that A.S. attempted suicide after this event with me. This was untrue entirely. A.S.’s grandmother and mother both attempted suicide and when I had heard the second time... first time, was before she asked me to lie naked on my bed. When the second time it was brought out, it was brought to me that she was, she had talked about that. I invited her to my house with some other people and I told her I thought it was best if she be with her parents and maybe if she‘s feeling pressure there on the land she could get over that and be free of it. And she agreed and went to her parents, and she adopted her parent’s lifestyle. But Healed hasn’t wanted to live that way. Isn’t that alright, for people to live right if they want to? Do they have to go dumping into pornography and drunken parties and sex and all those things? Can’t they just say, “I don’t want to live that way,” without being persecuted by the State? Well, that’s what Healed experienced, being persecuted by the State.
Nobody was molested in our land. Nobody’s ever been. And I’ve never touched a girl sexually. When they came to me and asked me if they could do that, A.S. came to my house and I tried to discourage her a few times, but I always said, “Follow your heart.” And she said, “This is my heart and I wanna do it.” So when she was, I let her lay on my bed and I asked her, “Ok what’s on your heart?” And she said, “Well, I’m pimply, fat and ugly and I think everybody looks at me this way.” And here she was, a sixteen year old girl. So I stepped back from her on the bed. I moved away from her. I was clothed. And I said, “A.S. I’m looking at you. I’m seeing your whole body here naked before me and I don’t see a fat, ugly, pimply girl. And I don’t think anybody else sees it either.” And I said, “I accept you just the way you are and you don’t look fat and pimply and ugly to me.” And so, I kissed her softly. She left... dressed and left. And she wrote an email saying it helped her very much.
These things had nothing to do with even nakedness. It’s just, the girls asked for this. It helped them. She could be naked on the table and I have a... I spoke... After the trial, I spoke with a physical therapist, or not a physical therapist, a massage therapist. She said, “We touch the parts you’re accused of all the time. You’re accused of touching sexual parts. She said, “I touch way more parts than that.” And it’s in massage therapy.” She says all massage therapists do that. I felt that it was extreme that if the District Attorney would have just visited with us a little bit, got to know us a little bit, he would have understood. Instead, offended people have been his mentor. And in every church... Do you go to anti-Lorites to find out about us? Do you go to anti-Catholics to find out about Catholics, or do you ask them? And I’ve been accused and convicted over the rumors of my enemies, who just hate our kind of living, which is honest and integrity. And, no, we don’t look at pornography. We don’t look at those things. But all of our children on the land, and adults too, they have all had free access to the internet on all levels. There was never any controls on anyone for anything. But this is what was presented in Court.
In Court, I couldn’t explain to the jury anything. I got to answer a few questions about firing some ministers and paying them off with fifteen thousand dollars. What did that have to do with sex with children? And it was an untrue rumor anyway. And many other rumors that are out there about us are just untrue. Some people write, using my name. But, why didn’t they ask me? Why didn’t the District Attorney say, “Mr. Bent, come in and talk to us.” I would have been glad to do that and explained everything. We would have all been glad to do that. But our land has been free. Our children have been free. Healed wants to come back because she’s free there. But Mr. Gallegos said, “Do what I say. There’s a law, controlling law of our land.” No. No, sir. No, no. I’m in Court because of that controlling law. The people at Strong City are not under the force that people of the state are. I could go to jail for fifteen years, for what? For nothing, because of this controlling cult that we call the law. And there’s a way that honest men should deal with the law. And not like the pharaohs of old, where people are crushed by it, put in prison by it, when no wrong has been done.
I’ll tell you sir; no wrong has been done in Strong City. The people that live there will tell you that. No crime has been committed and these are the peers from which my jury should have been taken. Not from the world of pornography and robbery and kidnapping and rape that this man has to deal with all the time. That’s all he deals with. Our land doesn’t have that. We have none of that. No rapes, no molestation, no control of another man’s conscience ever. It does not occur and it has not occurred.
So yes, A.S. lost her sister, but it was because she wanted to go into a life that her sister didn’t want to go into. That’s all it was. There’s never any controls from our side. Our land is free. Anybody can do whatever they want there. And I would have been happy to share with the jury that I get to talk a little bit after I’m convicted. And they didn’t have a chance; the jury didn’t have a chance to know. They didn’t have a chance to understand.
And this Messiah thing, "Well, you’re God. You say you’re Messiah." That’s a misunderstanding of our doctrine. Messiah is simply the word in the scripture meaning, anointing. And King Sirus in Isaiah was called God’s Messiah. And he wasn’t even a believer in God. Messiah is just somebody who’s appointed to do a job. And there can be... the scriptures say that we are all anointed if we are believers in God. Everyone is. And it’s the word that was used to describe Jesus, “the anointing.” It’s not... I’ve never gone around... I’ve never ever required men to worship me or anyone else for that matter. It’s just a ridiculous notion.
The District Attorney does not understand us. The whole case against me was wrong, informationally. It just was wrong. And why didn’t I have a chance to testify in Court, and to share my side of it? Well, Dr. Siegel explained to me, "That’s what this hearing is for. When you’re being tried, you don’t get a chance to do that." It seems to me that before you’re tried, or when you’re tried, you should be able to explain things then, not after it’s over. Not after it’s too late.
Our land is very close, closer than anything you understand or most people understand. And I don’t blame you for that. We just have a family there that’s very tight, very close, very understanding. We’ve known each other for years. We’ve been together for twenty years. We’re just a big family in the desert there. We’ve just lived together for a long time. And A.S. and L.S., these were my girls. I’ve known them since they were babies. These weren’t strangers or I mean... They were my daughters, asking me a favor, and L.S., both. L.S. also came and said that she was having teen-age emotional things, so she came and wanted to lie naked on my bed and I put my hand on her and talked to her and she’s, “Healed,” now, that’s the name she uses. I don’t know if my explanation these few minutes... I had an hour’s worth of an explanation, but I’m not going to go into it now. I don’t know if it’s going to do any good. It might be too late.
Judge Baca: Thank you. Ms. Montoya?
Ms. Montoya: I think that there were people who brought things to the District Attorney’s office attention, because they did not like Mr. Bent and because they were former members of the church and those actions were seeking to hurt. They were seeking to remove Mr. Bent from these people, who love him and who follow him and who believe in him and who believe in his integrity. But if anything happened your Honor, it brought them closer together. It did not destroy the church. And if Mr. Bent were incarcerated, it’s not going to hurt Mr. Bent. It’s gonna hurt these people. It would serve no purpose, your Honor, to lock him up behind bars. It would serve no purpose. And, therefore, we continue to ask for electronic home monitoring. We do believe it’s available to the Court and we place ourselves in your hands and ask for the mercy of the Court and the understanding of the Court that we don’t believe this church has had thus far. So now it’s in your hands. Thank you.
Judge Baca: Alright. Thank you.
(speaks to the district attorney)Do you still have any further comments?
Donald Gallegos: Just real brief, your Honor. I wanna, I appreciate the statements by the members, because each one of them came up and addressed the defendant, by Michael. I mean, by Wayne. But what we have also is something of an alter ego that has been in this case, which is the Michael aspect, which is the spirit that walks with the defendant. Your Honor, we’re not here for any of the actions of Michael, the spirit. We’re here for the actions of a man, whether he was taking direction from his creator or not, from Michael or not, and those actions then resulted in consequences. We have heard a lot testimony of how he has helped people and that’s fine. I respect that. But we’ve also heard statements from others who have had opposite impact. And the only reason I brought up arrogance earlier on, and it was in my opinion again, stressed by the defendant himself, was, he is dismissing all those other opinions about him out there, just saying that only his and his followers are the ones that count.
Be that as it may, your Honor, we’re not here because of the character of Wayne Bent. We’re not here because of that at all. We’re here because whatever prompting, whether it was a child’s or whether it was his, he did an act that was illegal. And there has to be consequences for that. What I saw was a very craftily... a person that was very good, and very skilled at words. And they can say I am too and I can tell you that I have an alter ego, the arrogant one. Maybe the other one's not so arrogant. But someone who uses his words very skillfully, very carefully and manipulates others and now is trying to manipulate, I believe, the Court, by saying that all they wanted to do was be left alone, they didn’t want anything else to be done and even denying the people were hurt in the process. Again, there’s no... there’s not even an acknowledgement, not even a simple acknowledgement that, "I understand, even though I don’t agree, that these are the laws." What I heard, instead, was, "We are not under the law. No wrong has been done." And then, in my opinion, criticizes the very jury that found him guilty. They are a jury of his peers, whether he agrees to that or not, your Honor. They were a jury of his peers. And we were in Taos, because that was his wish, to get the case moved to Taos. So, I... that was a very telling point for me.
He also said that the offended people have been my mentors, your Honor. No. I’ve listened to the offended people, I’ve listened to his apologetics. I’ve listened to the one person whom matters the most regarding this defendant and that is L.S. herself. And I respected her feelings. I did not judge her for it. I didn’t do anything else, other than tell her that, under the law, she had to testify. She had to tell the truth. She did that. And that the Court would respect her feelings. The jury would respect her feelings and obviously they did that. You know, I understand he had a chance with the jury to tell them whatever he wanted to tell them. Of course, certain rules confine him. You can’t do hearsay, you can’t do all this other stuff, but he was able to say that.
I read things where he, or hear things where he sets himself up to be the Son of God and whether he is or not, your Honor, doesn’t matter. What matters is, he’s the Son of God, when it’s convenient to him and then when it’s convenient, he’s not. It’s a manifestation. And all of a sudden, we get some Bible education about everyone is a Messiah. Well, guess what? Those are subject to interpretation, who interprets those scriptures, how they’re interpreted. The Messiah, in some people interpretations, came to save the people. "The,"... “the" Son of God, not "a" Son of God. And I know we could go on and we could go on forever, but I just wanted to point out to the Court, there’s been a lot of information, I think there’s been a lot of manipulation, I think, of the facts. The character stuff, I think is important I think it’s great what happened to some of these people. Some of them were healed, some of them were saved. But guess what? That happens every day, even in the world that they have rejected. There’s still a lot of good in this world. And even in the tightly knit community, such as this, bad things can still happen. Illegal things can still happen and they did. And so again, I ask the Court to consider my recommendations. Thank you.
Judge Baca: Alright. I want to say that I appreciate all of the statements and comments that have been made here today. And I take them into consideration in deciding what to do. I have received, as I said, the pre-sentence report from the Probation Department, which recommends to the Court a sentence of six years. I’ve received and read the defendant’s, Sentencing Memorandum, which recommends the minimum sentence of three years with electronic monitoring. I’ve heard from the State, the Prosecutor, who wishes to have not the maximum, but a few years just short of the maximum imposed, fifteen years. And I have to look at the facts and circumstances of the case; look at what it is that Mr. Bent was convicted of, what it is that made up the facts which led to his conviction, look at his impact on the community, the impact of his actions on the victim, victims, in this matter. I have to look at his background. I’ve learned a lot about Mr. Bent, both from the pre-sentence report, as well as the sentencing memorandum done by Defense counsel.
And before I forget, I want to thank all counsel involved in this matter, for the, I think, the outstanding job that they did in presenting their sides of the issue. You fought hard for your side Mr. Gallegos, Mr. Benevidez, and you (addressing Ms. Montoya) fought long and hard for your side and for your cause and for your client’s cause and I appreciate that.
In the end, though, after four days of testimony, the jury having heard the evidence that I believe was appropriate for them to hear, decided that, no, Mr. Bent was not guilty of one count of Criminal Sexual Contact of a Minor, Count One, but, yes, he was guilty of Count Two, Criminal Sexual Contact of a Minor, Count Three, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor and Count Four, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. Pursuant to our laws, whether we believe they’re right or wrong, or whether we’re indifferent about them, they are the law, the law of the State of New Mexico. And I, as a judge in a Court in the State of New Mexico, must follow those laws and enforce them to the letter. I have some discretion. In this case, I have discretion to place Mr. Bent at a minimum of three years or to sentence him to a maximum of eighteen. And this is my point of view, given everything that I’ve heard and the facts and circumstances in this case.
Mr. Bent, will you please stand.
At this time, having been convicted in Counts Two, Three and Four, I sentence you as follows: You’ll be sentenced to fifteen years in the Department of Corrections Custody, as to Count Two. As to Count Three, you will receive eighteen months of incarceration with the Department of Corrections. As to Count Four, you will receive eighteen months with the Department of Corrections Custody. Each of those counts will be served consecutively for a total sentence of eighteen years in the Department of Corrections Custody. Eight years of that sentence will be suspended for a net sentence of ten years. You’ll be placed on probation for eight years. It will be supervised. You will also have a parole period of eight years, which will be served concurrently with the probationary term. You will, as terms and conditions of your probation, be ordered to comply with the standard terms and conditions of probation, as any other probationary would have to comply with.
Special terms and conditions of your probation will include that you will register as a sex offender for, I believe under the statute, for the rest of your life. As well, you will be subject to intensive supervision by probation and parole division of the Correction Department, upon their discretion. You will participate in any outpatient or inpatient sex offender treatment program that they believe is appropriate after an assessment has been done. You will not use alcohol or drugs, which I don’t believe you use anyway. You will not have contact with children less than eighteen, during the term of your probation or parole. You’ll be subject to any alcohol testing, drug testing or polygraph examinations at the discretion of the adult probation division to determine whether or not you are complying with the conditions of your probation.
Mr. Bent, I understand your position and I respect your position to a certain degree. However, a line was crossed. The line was crossed when you as the leader of your church allowed these two young children, young women, to come into your house, without supervision, in privacy you allowed them into your bedroom and into your bed to lie naked. Although you’ve been found not guilty of Criminal Sexual Contact with respect to L.S., you have been found not guilty with her, guilty with respect to A.S., that was the crossing of the line. You, yourself, even said, during the trial, that you suggested to them and you said here today, that they should think about this more before they did it, that they should consult with their parents, because you realized that there was that line. I think religious leaders throughout our country are now learning that line is there and cannot be crossed. In this case, despite, I guess, the reservations that you had about proceeding with what happened in this case, you went forward. And you did this, knowing that there might be consequences for these actions. And I understand that you believe that you did this for their good and as part of their, I guess, religious freedoms.
However, as has been stated throughout this case, probably a hundred times, this case really was not about religion. It never has been about religion. The case has to deal with; Did you Wayne Bent commit a crime, regardless of the position that you were in, when you allow these children to be in a position that was injurious to their morals and somehow resulted in delinquency? And did you cross that line and commit a crime when you allowed, at least A.S., to come into your presence, your private residence, your private bedroom and lie naked in your presence and then have contact with her? The line is clear to the Court that when you did that, that you violated the law. And for that, I must punish you and I think I have set out the punishment that I intend to happen in this case. And I’m not punishing you because of your religious beliefs. I’m not sentencing you to prison because of the practice of your religion or anything that your followers believe. I’m sentencing you because of the act of committing a crime in the State of New Mexico, and the consequences of that crime not only on you but on A.S. for the rest of her life, whose now confused about what happened and the betrayal of the trust that she feels in having these things happen to her. And L.S., although not a victim of Count One is a victim in Count Three. And she was put in a place that she shouldn’t have had to been. Whether by the powers of suggestion or of her own free will, she went to your house, again to your private residence, asked you for something that you saw as a favor, but you knew was problematic. And yet, you didn’t stop it. As the authority figure in her life, as a religious leader in her life, you had the power to say, "No." And the bottom line is that you didn’t. And that’s why you’re in this situation you find yourself today. And with that, I will remand you to custody and ask the deputy, I think there’s a deputy from Union County here to take you into custody at this time and to transport you to the Department of Corrections.
Ms. Montoya: Your Honor.
Judge Baca: Let me finish. I’ll also require that the judgment and sentence be prepared forthwith for signature by me by ten A.M. tomorrow morning.
Ms. Montoya: Your Honor, I believe the maximum probation term under the law is five years.
Judge Baca: No. Pursuant to thirty one twenty dash five point two, (3120-5.2), sex offender period of probation can be from as little as five years to as much as twenty years.
Ms. Montoya: Thank you.
Judge Baca: Alright. Anything further on behalf of the State?
Donald Gallegos: No, your Honor. Thank you.
Judge Baca: On behalf of the Defense?
Ms. Montoya: Your Honor, will the Court not consider electronic home monitoring?
Judge Baca: I don’t think it’s appropriate in this case. And for that reason I will not consider it. Alright.
Wayne Bent: Can I say something?
Judge Baca: Yes, Mr. Bent.
Wayne Bent: With all respect to the Court, I won’t be serving time in prison, except for maybe a few days.
Judge Baca: Well, those are choices that you have to make and you’re guided by your religious belief and you have to do what you think is right.
Wayne Bent: I just wanted to tell you, so we’re clear.
Judge Baca: Alright. Thank you, this matter’s adjourned.
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