NM cult leader appeals child molestation convictions

The head of a northeastern New Mexico religious sect who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexual misconduct has hired an Albuquerque law firm to appeal his convictions.

Wayne Bent, leader of The Lord Our Righteousness Church, was sentenced in December for a conviction of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

He was accused of laying in bed with naked 14- and 16-year-old sisters in separate incidents in 2006.

A statement on the sect's Web site claims the evidence used to convict Bent is questionable from several legal perspectives and that Bent never touched the girls inappropriately.

Bent and the sisters testified during his trial that the incidents were spiritual exercises and nothing happened sexually.