Exclusive: Sect Leader on Trial for Alleged Molestation Speaks to 'GMA'

Apocalyptic group head Wayne Bent says teens were there for "healing," not sex.

ByABC News via logo
December 9, 2008, 9:46 PM

Dec. 10, 2008 — -- Wayne Bent calls himself the second coming of Christ but prosecutors allege that he's a sexual predator.

Flanked by nearly three dozen followers, Bent, the 67-year-old leader of an apocalyptic group called The Lord of Our Righteous Church, entered a New Mexico courthouse Tuesday to stand trial on two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor.

Bent allegedly had inappropriate sexual contact with two teenage sisters, one 14 and the other 16, according to prosecutors.

In an exclusive Oct. 20 interview with "Good Morning America," Bent said that inappropriate touching "just didn't happen."

"I'm not saying I had sex with girls and I call it religion. ... I never touched any sexual part ever," Bent said. "They were there for healing, not for sex. They didn't come to have me have sex with them."

Bent admitted he "laid next to" one of the girls who was naked and put his hand on her sternum.

"The way I handled it is I let her go in my bedroom and disrobe and lay on my bed naked," Bent said of one of the incidents. "Then I opened my bedroom door and went in and laid next to her."

But prosecutors said Tuesday that jurors would hear testimony that Bent kissed both girls on the lips.

Deputy District Attorney Tomas Benavidez said the younger girl does not think she was sexually abused and wants to go back to the church's compound, called Strong City, near the New Mexico-Colorado border where she could "be Wayne Bent's wife."

According to Sarah Montoya, Bent's attorney, the girl "considers herself married to God," not Bent.

Montoya said one of the girls will testify that "after he laid his hand on her, she did feel closer to God."

According to former church member Prudence Welch, part of Bent's teachings included stipulations that he was the only person allowed to have sex with church members.

"Pretty much all marriages were somewhat on hold or dissolved," Welch told "Good Morning America" in May. "And, yeah, they had sex. And he said it would only happen with two people."