[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
A cult leader could be convincing his followers to end their lives at this very moment.
According to The Sun, the brainwashed members of an apocalyptic desert cult run by a man who touts himself as the Son of God might very well be on a suicide mission, and one former member insists that if that were the case, no one could prevent it from happening.
The religious community, which rests in the middle of the New Mexico desert, is run by Wayne Bent (above), who was in prison for a decade after allegedly sexually abusing teenage virgins.
The 82-year-old, who now goes by Michael Travesser, was found guilty of lying naked in bed with two teen sisters, ages 14 and 16, on separate occasions in 2006 at his New Mexico compound. Bent denied the charges, claiming during his trial that he only placed his hands on the girls’ sternums for a spiritual cleansing ritual.
Uhhh… still not okay, dude!
Related: Cult Members Charged After Allegedly Torturing 8-Year-Old Diabetic Girl To Death
However, an ex church member claimed Bent told his followers that God had ordered him to “sleep with seven virgins.” Moreover, Bent admitted on camera to sleeping with his son’s wife multiple times because “God forced me to.” So, he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who knows the proper meaning of “cleansing.”
The jury naturally sided against him: Bent was found guilty of criminal sexual contact with a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The cult leader was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but he managed to secure an early release 7 years into his sentence after being diagnosed with skin cancer.
After his release, Bent returned to his compound and continued to preach to his followers. Now, a former member is worried that, as Bent’s health deteriorates, he plans on dragging his followers down with him.
The ex-member, and the father of two of the cult leader’s victims, told the outlet:
“If they all want to kill themselves they are going to do it, it doesn’t matter if they are out there [pointing to the desert] or somewhere else. If they want to do it they are going to do it. Anyone who wants to kill themselves and go to Heaven – or go on a comet somewhere – if they want to do it they are going to do it… 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 that point – at least it never came across to me as that, we never went down that path of like ‘let’s drink Kool aid.’”
The father noted that Bent brought him into the cult because he was “very convincing,” but said he’s since learned to think for himself.
Unfortunately, a handful of followers haven’t gotten that far. He added:
“He’s pretty convincing on a lot of things and lot of them [his followers] are fanatics so if they find something that goes along with what they believe already, they are going to follow it. You can make yourself believe whatever you want. The ones that didn’t leave, it was all a decision on everyone’s part. If you want to go down that path, you’ll do it.”
Bent originally spread worry about a mass suicide in May 2007, after writing on his website “I am ready to go” and “I want to take all of my children with me.”
We sincerely hope this guy and his “children” don’t do anything stupid…