Set in an apocalyptic cult where followers were told to kill themselves and the leader abused virgin teenagers in the desert

FOLLOWERS of an apocalyptic desert cult led by a man who claims he is the Son of God could kill themselves at any moment and no one could stop them.

The religious community lives in the remote and isolated valleys of the New Mexico desert, about 50 miles from the nearest town along a dirt road.

Wayne Bent, self-proclaimed messiah and leader of the Strong City cult

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Wayne Bent, self-proclaimed messiah and leader of the Strong City cultCredit: Handout
Bent and his followers live here in this remote religious community near Clayton, New Mexico

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Bent and his followers live here in this remote religious community near Clayton, New MexicoCredit: Adam Gray /SWNS
Bent supporters believed the world would end in 2007

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Bent supporters believed the world would end in 2007Credit: Adam Gray/SWNS

They are led by Wayne Bent, 82, who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing “virgin” teenagers.

Bent, who changed his name to Michael Travesser, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of lying naked in bed with two sisters in 2006 in various incidents at his Strong City compound outside of Clayton, New Mexico to have lain between the ages of 14 and 16 .

A former church member revealed that Bent had told his followers that God commanded him to “sleep with seven virgins”.

Bent has also openly admitted on camera to having sex with his son’s wife on multiple occasions because “God made me do it,” saying that God dropped him on the floor and started rocking back and forth over his daughter-in-law .

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The cult has been plagued by rumors that Bent is about to lead his followers to suicide, although he has claimed in the past that it is not a suicide cult.

Now a former member – and the father of two of Bent’s victims – has told The Sun that if the cult members were on a suicide mission, there would be no one to stop them.

“If they all want to kill themselves, they will, it doesn’t matter if they’re out there [pointing to the desert] or somewhere else,” he said.

“If they want to do it, they will do it. Anyone who wants to kill themselves and go to heaven – or go on a comet anywhere – if they want to do it, they will.

“When I was there he thought the end of the world was going to happen, but I don’t think it was a suicide thing at the time — at least it never felt like it to me, we never went down that ‘Let’s drink Kool Aid’ route ‘.”

He added that Bent lured him into the cult because he was “very persuasive,” but he now has no contact with Bent or any of his followers.

“We haven’t spoken to any of them since the trial. We’re out. He can do whatever he wants,” said the father.

“They do their thing, we do our thing, just let them do their thing.

“It is what it is. Pretty much all the kids have left all the adults out there now.

“If you want to walk this path, you will.”

Former cult member

“I learned a lot from that experience, it was an eye opener so I’m taking something from that.

“It taught me to think for myself and not just follow what other people say.

“He’s quite persuasive about a lot of things and a lot of them [his followers] are fanatics, so if they find something that aligns with what they already believe, they will follow. You can make yourself believe what you want.

“Those who didn’t go, it was all a decision by everyone.

“If you want to walk this path, you will.”

The cult has been the subject of many documentaries, including National Geographic’s Inside A Cult: Messiah on Trial and The End of the World Cult.

In May 2007, Bent sparked fears of a mass suicide after writing on his website “I’m ready to go” and “I want to take all my kids with me”.

HUNGER STRIKE

One of his supporters spoke to news outlets in 2009 about her death wish, saying she was on a hunger strike and did not want medical treatment unless Bent was released. A judge later intervened and ordered her to get into an ambulance and receive medical treatment.

The Sun revealed he recorded a chilling “last words” video in which he said he was the “son of God” and that the world would pay for how he was treated.

In the lengthy and rambling recording, eerily titled “Messiah’s Last Words,” posted online by one of his followers, Bent professed his innocence before saying, “I’m done,” adding, “It’s time the dead are judged.”

CHILLING LAST WORDS

After making snide comments about other churches and voicing his homophobic opinions on gay marriage – which he calls “an abomination” – he says, “I was put in prison and charged with crimes I did not commit…

“I’m going to be 82 years old, my eyes and hearing aren’t strong, and my brain really isn’t strong either

“So, with the last bit of strength I want to comment on everything that has happened.

“I was put in prison for a crime I did not commit which involved touching a minor’s sexual parts.

“These two minors were in court and testified that I did not commit this crime, but the court lied and the prosecutors, the judge and the jury all lied.

God told me I was the Messiah.”

Wayne Bent

“They gave me an 18-year sentence and suspended eight of them. I was put in prison for seven years and 42 days and it fulfilled the prophecy.

“Prior to that time, as I sat here in my home, God told me I was the Messiah…but just as Jesus was crucified for his testimony, I was crucified for mine…

“The world judged itself by judging me.

“I’ve been telling people for a long time that what they do to me will be done to them, and that’s what happened.

“The government is destroyed, no president will ever be accepted, the presidency is destroyed, Congress is destroyed, Washington DC is destroyed, all because they destroyed me and my children and my city.

‘I’M DONE’

“I no longer belong to them, I no longer take their shots, I no longer vote for their false prophets and false kings. Not anymore, I’m done.

“The devil can have it, if these people want the devil to let them have it, that’s fine, I won’t intervene anymore.

“But some of you watching this video will come to eternal life, you will no longer sleep in the dirt. It is time for the dead to be judged, and that judgment is taking place now. Those of you who come to life will be raised from the dead.”

During his trial, Bent denied the allegations against his underage victims, insisting that he only put his hands on the girls’ sternums, not their breasts, as part of spiritual purification rituals.

The younger girl said lying naked with Bent was a “religious healing experience.”

However, he was found guilty of criminal sexual contact with a minor and two counts of contributing to a minor’s crime and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

REMOTE CONNECTION

He managed to secure an early release seven years into his sentence after suffering from skin cancer and returned to his Strong City compound where he continued to preach to his followers.

When The Sun attempted to visit Bent and his followers, the property was off-limits to outsiders and surrounded by “Keep Out” and “Keep Out” signs.

About a dozen trailers and makeshift homes could be seen far off the road.

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Attempts to reach Wayne Bent at both of his New Mexico addresses were unsuccessful.

The Sun reached out to two of his followers, including Gabriel Travesser, who appears in the video with him for comment, but received no response.

Bent, 74, was convicted in 2008 of criminally having sexual contact with a minor and contributing to a minor's crime

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Bent, 74, was convicted in 2008 of criminally having sexual contact with a minor and contributing to a minor’s crimePhoto credit: New Mexico State Police
Bent being escorted by sheriffs to his first court appearance in Clayton, NM in 2008

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Bent being escorted by sheriffs to his first court appearance in Clayton, NM in 2008Credit: AP
The facility is 50 miles from the nearest town

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The facility is 50 miles from the nearest townPhoto credit: SWNS
It is surrounded by no entry signs and cannot be accessed from the main road

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It is surrounded by no entry signs and cannot be accessed from the main roadPhoto credit: SWNS

https://www.the-sun.com/news/5886159/apocalyptic-cult-members-kill-themselves/ Set in an apocalyptic cult where followers were told to kill themselves and the leader abused virgin teenagers in the desert

DevanCole

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