Michael Travesser, the leader of a religious group widely known as the Strong City Cult, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of sexual misconduct with two young girls.
Michael Travesser / Wayne Bent
Michael Travesser is actually a pseudonym created by a man named Wayne Bent. Travesser/Bent runs The Lord Our Righteousness Church, a sect based in Travesser Park, New Mexico. Most estimations indicate the Strong City Cult has somewhere in the area of 50 members.
Michael Travesser/Wayne Bent was convicted of criminal sexual contact with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charges came after it was discovered Travesser/Bent had been in bed with nude sisters who were 14 and 16 years old, the Associated Press reports. Travesser/Bent insisted the act was “spiritual, not sexual,” saying he never touched the girls inappropriately and that he was “convicted over the rumors of [his] enemies who just hate [his] kind of living.”
Travesser/Bent’s attorney has indicated she will file an appeal. His followers are also calling for his release.
Prior to his work with the Strong City Cult, Wayne Bent had served as a minister for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. He has claimed that God “anointed him messiah.”
Strong City Cult: Past Investigations
Three minors were taken from the Strong City compound last May when police believed they had been engaging in “inappropriate contact” with Travesser/Bent. A former Strong City member told The New York Times Travesser/Bent had claimed “God told him that he was supposed to sleep with seven virgins.” Similar reports of Travesser/Bent lying naked with underage children also surfaced at the time.
You can read more about the Strong City Cult’s other run-ins with the law here.
Strong City Cult Video
The following report shows clips from interviews with Michael Travesser/Wayne Bent, as well as some video from inside the Strong City Cult compound.