2 leaders of religious sect plead not guilty to child abuse
Updated 4:47 pm, Monday, September 11, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two leaders of a New Mexico paramilitary religious sect pleaded not guilty Monday to charges connected to a child abuse investigation into the secluded group.
Deborah Green and Peter Green entered pleas in Cibola County District Court a month after authorities raided their compound.
Co-leader Deborah Green and high-ranking leader Peter Green of the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps are being held on $500,000 cash surety bond in connection with child sexual abuse charges stemming for a two-year long investigation.
The secluded compound is in the high desert of western New Mexico.
Peter Green, also known as Mike Brandon, faces 100 counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child. He's accused of raping a girl from the time she was 7.
The group, founded in California, said the allegations are "totally false."
State District Judge Pedro Rael set the trial date for both for May 2018.
The leaders are two of nine people from the paramilitary religious sect who are facing charges after heavily armed Cibola County deputies raided the compound. Most of facing failure to report births charges.
However, co-leader James Green, husband of Deborah Green, is facing kidnapping, child abuse and tampering with evidence charges.
Authorities accused James Green of taking part in a plot to bring over an infant child from Uganda to the United States in 1997 by using forged documents, court documents said. Authorities said James Green convinced his daughter, Sarah, to falsely say the child was hers to smuggle her into the U.S., documents said.
The daughter later left the commune, but the Greens refused to let her take two of her children and the adopted Ugandan girl with her, according to court documents.
The Cibola County Sheriff's Office says 11 children who lived at the compound are being cared for by the state and have been interviewed by an FBI forensic specialist. They were taken into custody after deputies arrested four members who were trying to leave the state with the children in two vans, said Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace.
The Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps, founded in Sacramento, California, describes itself as a group that is "revolutionary for Jesus" and provides a free spiritual "ammo pack" to anyone who submits a written request.
Its website was laced with anti-Semitic language and anti-gay tirades about same-sex marriage until the posts were recently deleted.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the sect as a hate group.
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