|Photo Credits: Patheos|
After roughly 18 charges alleging kidnapping and child abuse, which were filed against Deborah and James Green, a married couple who lead a paramilitary religious sect in New Mexico, new charges are filed against them. The Greens are now accused of tampering with evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence.
Deborah and James Green are leaders of the Aggressive Christian Mission Training Corps in western New Mexico, a religious paramilitary sect with anti-Semitic leanings. They were first accused of kidnapping and child abuse and now it is suspected that the Greens attempted to hide children from the commune after a raid by sheriff’s deputies, and that they conspired together and with another person to commit tampering with evidence.
According to New York Times, last year authorities raided the sect’s secluded Fence Lake, New Mexico compound over concerns of child abuse. Cibola County Sheriff's Office began an investigation into the commune after 13-year-old Enoch Miller died from a probable infectious disease. 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. 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 on for years. Former members also said that the group treated followers like slaves and often physically tortured children.
Number of members of the sect, including their leaders, are facing various charges ranging from child abuse, bribery and not reporting a birth, but they have all pleaded not guilty. Deborah and James Green also said they have done nothing wrong.
The Greens opened Free Love Ministries in 1982 with four communal houses in Sacramento, California. They were not experienced ministries but succeeded in attracting about 50 members. The group had a military structure and operated like the Salvation Army. The group fled California for Oregon and later resurfaced near El Paso, Texas, and then in western New Mexico, after one of the group’s former members, Maura Alana Schmierer, sued the group for locking her in a shed without a toilet and for forcing her to give up legal custody of three of her children. The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed the sect as a hate group after it published anti-Muslim and anti-gay stories in pamphlets and on its website.
After the two-year investigation lead by Cibola County Undersheriff’s department and dozens of charges filed against the militant sect leaders and members, it looks like the time has come to bring the leaders and the members of this sect to justice.