By RUSSELL CONTRERAS, ASSOCIATED PRESS
GRANTS, N.M. — Aug 25, 2017
Leaders of a paramilitary religious sect rocked by child sexual abuse allegations say they were merely a small, poor group living in a secluded ranching area in New Mexico while constantly being persecuted by people who didn’t understand their reading of the Bible.
But authorities say the trustees of the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps own thousands of acres of land and benefited from a wealthy high-ranking member who aided them in avoiding law enforcement agencies by hiding children throughout their 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 that former members say went back years.
Speaking before a magistrate judge on Friday, Cibola County Undersheriff Michael Munk gave a glimpse into his department’s two-year investigation of a militant sect 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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