Note: See also the information and resources listed in our old entry on Wayne Bent.
Resources on this page deal with:
- Wayne Bent
Cult leader who believes himself to be the Messiah
- Michael Travesser
Name assumed by Wayne Bent
- Strong City
In 1999 Wayne Bent mentioned ‘Strong City’ in an editorial posted on ‘The Winds.’ The website, operated by Bent, dealt with ‘New World Order’ conspiracy theories. Bent wrote:
For three years, concluding early this year, the WINDS staff endeavored to reveal the criminal conspiracy at work on the national and international levels. It became evident that to continue writing would be to repeat ourselves, as the corruption and violence of this age is unchanging except in the new lows to which it continually plunges.
There are solutions, but as any reader of The WINDS knows, we hold no hope for this corrupt nation and world. The solutions are found on an individual level, within family units and small groups of people who are united by a common belief and purpose. In our own minds the solutions are crystallizing into a vision of the “Strong City”, a Biblical allusion to the “safe place” where God’s people gather during the days of trouble. What this looks like on a practical level is the subject we hope to explore with you in the days ahead.
It is because of this vision that we have secured the StrongCity.com Internet domain
‘Strong City’ eventually referred to the piece of New Mexico land where Bent and his followers settled.
- Lord Our Righteousness Church
Bent’s followers at the Strong City property
- Peals Before Swine “Strong City stands by its spiritual leader and waits for deliverance—at the hands of God or the legal system” by Maren Tarro, Alibi.com
Shortly after he became Messiah, Bent says he experienced a revelation that seven virgins would come to lay naked with him. Bent admitted on the group’s website that criminal charges could be brought against him, as some of the virgins who approached him were minors. He decided he had no choice but to obey the directive. He saw it as God’s command.
One by one, women—at first seven, then more—approached Bent to lay naked with him. Three were minors. Some were the wives of other members and would eventually leave their husbands to be “consummated” with Bent. It wasn’t the first time. In 2000, two women had done just that. One of them was Wendy Bent, the wife of Bent’s son, Jeff.
By 2005, a Strong City member by the name of Prudence Welch could no longer accept Bent as her spiritual leader. She walked away from 15 years with the group but stayed in contact with the remaining members, including her sister Trudy Sayer. (Sayer has since left the group.) Welch was alarmed by the unfolding events being relayed to her—especially those concerning Bent lying naked with minors. She called the New Mexico state police.
That phone call—along with several to the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD)—would eventually lead to the arrest of Bent, the removal of all minors from Strong City property, and a trial resulting in Bent’s conviction on two counts of criminal sexual contact and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Bent was sentenced to 18 years in prison, with eight years suspended.
Even after the jury returned its guilty verdict, Jeff looked to Judge Gerald Baca for an “enlightened response” in the form of sentencing. He hoped the judge would concede that, “We don’t have victims here who are crying for justice. This is totally brought on by offended ex-members and members of the public who are outraged.”
Jeff refers to the case in Alamogordo where high school coach James Javier Cruz was convicted on three counts criminal sexual penetration of a minor for his sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. Cruz was sentenced to 10 months work release. With a less severe set of convictions, Jeff expected the judge to sentence his father to probation. Instead, “The judge went to the absolute opposite extreme,” Jeff says, shaking his head.
Discouraging as this year has been, Jeff Bent says his father’s imprisonment has fortified the resolve and faith of the group. “We’ve become more focused on what our heavenly instructions are to our own hearts and what is next,” he says. “The answer to that is he comes out of that prison because our faith is centered on the promises of the Bible, which talks about a deliverance that comes from God.”
- The world according to Wayne Bent (Blog post) Richard Harty, What is Spiritual?
News & News Archive
Religion News Blog’s news & news archive on Wayne Bent
- Beyond90Seconds.com The official blog of investigative journalist and author Mark Horner includes many entries on Wayne Bent, including videos, audio fragments and court documents.
- Strong City — Mirror Site A mirror of Strong City’s official website, which is currently not online. Information about the mirrored version.
- Strong City Info and News Net Collection of links to news articles, audio and video fragments
- Travesser Family Archives Archived (by WebArchive) version of one of Wayne Bent’s old websites.
- The Truth About Michael Travesser (Contra) Website by former Bent follower Prudence Welch. It includes a discussion forum