Sheriff: Sect leaders blocking investigators from children in abuse inquiry
August 24, 2017 01:59 PM
CIBOLA COUNTY, N.M. -- There are 11 children possibly in danger inside a secretive religious militia compound hidden deep in rural western New Mexico, and law enforcement tells KOB they aren't being allowed inside.
It is the latest development in a troubling saga that began to unfold Sunday with the arrest of one of the commune's members on 100 counts of sexual abuse of a minor.
From the air, the rural Fence Lake compound appears fortified. The Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps -- the organization behind the mountain commune -- is referred to as a religious militia by law enforcement. Classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the sect on the fringe of society is now the focus of a child abuse investigation into two crimes.
After a raid on the compound Sunday, member Peter Green is accused of 100 counts of sexual abuse of a minor -- a girl investigators say was raped at least four times a week since she was 7. Group member Stacey Miller was also arrested in Truth or Consequences in connection with the 2014 death of her son on the property. Sect leader Deborah Green was also arrested in that case.
According to Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace, the commune's cooperation with investigators ended Wednesday. James Green, the group's founder, had agreed to allow FBI investigators to interview children still living on the compound.
"When we got out to the property, we were met at the gate and basically told they're not going to release the children to us, not going to cooperate with this," Mace said.
Mace said the group was not violent toward law enforcement but refused deputies entry to the property. Investigators are trying to get to those children with the law to back them up.
"It's difficult because these children are taught not to cooperate with law enforcement, and there's a barrier there," Mace said.
During the raid Sunday, Mace said investigators accounted for 11 children -- ages 4 to 17.
"They don't report the births of these children -- the vital statistics -- to the state," he said. "So in a sense, the children have no identity. They don't exist."
A fourth man, Joshua Green, was arrested for failure to report child birth. An FBI interviewer was ready to interview the kids Wednesday when a bus was turned away at the compound gate.
"We were really counting on the cooperation of the organization to do this," Mace said. "Now that we're met with this type of resistance we'll have to re-evaluate."
The priority for law enforcement is talking to those kids. Mace said they're at the drawing board right now trying to find a legally sound way to do that.
Updated: August 24, 2017 01:59 PM
Created: August 23, 2017 09:10 PM
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