AP NEWS

Convicted New Mexico sect leader seeks new trial

February 28, 2020 GMT

GRANT, N.M. (AP) — A leader in a rural New Mexico paramilitary religious sect convicted of kidnapping and sexual abuse is seeking a new trial.

Lawyers for Deborah Green, leader of the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps, filed a motion recently after they say prosecutors did not disclose specific evidence, the Gallup Independent reports.

Green is serving a 72-year prison sentence after being found guilty of eight counts connected to the alleged kidnapping, physical and sexual abuse of a young girl from Uganda.

In a motion filed by the Harrison & Hart law firm of Albuquerque, attorney Nicholas Hart asked the court to vacate the 2018 jury verdict and prison sentence and order a new trial.

Lawyers say a 2006 psychological assessment of a girl from Uganda “showed no signs psychologically of being traumatized or depressed and denied abuse.”

While the state previously disclosed a summary of the doctor’s evaluation, it failed to seek or actually disclose any records related to the actual exam, Hart stated. Those medical records are now undergoing an in-camera review before 13th Judicial District Judge Amanda Villalobos in a related case.

Deborah Green and her husband, James, also a co-leader of the sect, were arrested in August 2017 after authorities raided the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps’ secluded Fence Lake compound in western New Mexico after a two-year investigation into concerns about child abuse.

Former sect members said the abuse dated back years. Cibola County Undersheriff Michael Munk said the former members described leaders treating followers like slaves and physically beating children.

He also said the sect had evaded law enforcement by moving and operating in seclusion.

In Deborah Green’s defense, her attorney said the accusations against her had stemmed from the vendettas of former sect members, and that the victim in the case had changed her story over the years.

The Greens opened Free Love Ministries in 1982 with four communal houses in Sacramento, California. The Greens had little ministry training but attracted about 50 members and operated a military structure.

Fence Lake is 119 miles (191.5 kilometers) west of Albuquerque.