Sect 'messiah' faces sex abuse charges

The leader of an apocalyptic sect in New Mexico has been charged with sexually abusing two young female followers.

Magistrate court charges have been dropped, and a criminal case now will proceed in a state district court.

Wayne Bent, who heads The Lord Our Righteousness Church, had initially been charged with crimes against three girls who previously lived on the church’s compound.

District Attorney Donald Gallegos said 67-year-old Brent was indicted yesterday by a grand jury on two counts of criminal sexual contact with a child and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child.

Mr Gallegos said he decided not to present evidence to grand jurors in the case of the third girl because “more work needs to be done”.

The girls told authorities they “lay naked” with Bent, who claims to be the Messiah.

Bent has denied any molestation occurred, and his followers say the charges are false.

The suspected abuse would have occurred in 2006. The girls are now 17 and 16.

The case that was dropped involved a girl who was 12 at the time, Mr Gallegos said.

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