Four religious sect members plead not guilty in child abuse case
September 12, 2017 06:24 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Three weeks after Cibola County sheriff's deputies raided a compound belonging to a paramilitary Christian sect in western New Mexico, four of its members pleaded not guilty before a district court judge.
Deborah Green is said to be one of the sect's co-leaders. She's facing several charges including child abuse, sexual penetration of a minor and failure to report a birth.
On Monday morning, prosecutor Brandon Vigil said the group under Deborah Green’s leadership has fled legal trouble since 1989, moving from California to Oregon to New Mexico.
"When we were at the Magistrate Court a couple weeks ago, your honor, the co-leader and her husband, James Green, flat out told the court that they're not of this world and they don't recognize the authority of the criminal courts in this state," Vigil argued.
Detectives say Peter Green is ranked just below Deborah in the organization. He faces 100 counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child.
Cibola County Sheriff’s Office Detective Steve Chavez, who has been investigating the organization for two years, said Peter is part-owner of a loaded trust that’s tied to the group. Vigil said members of the sect have changed the name of the trust over the years, and that they have a history of lying about their assets.
"He's rich, his family is rich, he put up the money for the property," Vigil said, referring to the property the group owns near Fence Lake.
Judge Pedro Rael set both Deborah and Peter Green’s bonds at $500,000 cash or surety.
Stacey Miller is now being held on a $20,000 cash or surety bond.
It was the death of Miller's 12-year-old son that prompted the Aug. 20 raid on the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps. Miller reportedly failed to get her son medical attention when he contracted the flu, and he later died. Her attorney says she has four living children who live with their father in Missouri.
Miller also argues she is no longer a member of the group and has lived in Truth or Consequences for the past two years. However, Chavez said she was sent there to go into hiding after her son’s death.
"The primary intention for her to move to T or C was not of her own volition," Chavez told the judge. "It was to evade the investigation that was starting at that time.”
Joshua Green is charged with not reporting a birth. He walked into court on his own Monday morning, saying someone had posted his $5,000 bond, though he didn’t know who. He is now free to live and work in Albuquerque, but cannot return to the Fence Lake compound.
At this point, the four suspects are set to go on trial May 21, 2018.
Updated: September 12, 2017 06:24 AM
Created: September 11, 2017 01:02 PM
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