Cibola sheriff tells court about inquiry into child abuse

Albuquerque Journal

By Russell Contreras / Associated Press
Published: Friday, August 25th, 2017

GRANTS – A paramilitary religious sect rocked by child sexual abuse allegations appeared to be a small, poor group living in a secluded ranching area in western New Mexico who complained they were mere victims of constant persecution by people who didn’t really understand their reading of the Christian Bible.

But authorities say the trustees of the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps are owners of thousands of acres of land and benefited from a wealthy, high-ranking member who aided them in avoiding law enforcement by hiding children throughout its vast holdings.

Those holdings and regular deceptions by leaders, authorities said, made it difficult for the small Cibola County Sheriff’s Office to investigate allegations of child abuse and child sexual abuse that former members say went back years.

Speaking before a magistrate judge on Friday, Cibola County Undersheriff Michael Munk gave a glimpse into his agency’s two-year investigation of a sect that former members say treated followers like slaves and often physically beat children who had no records of being born. That investigation led to the Sunday raid of the group’s Fence Lake compound and the arrest of four members.

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