News

Actions

Desert cult leaders arrested on sex crime charges, death of child

Posted at 11:37 AM, Aug 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-23 11:37:18-04

SACRAMENTO, CA (KCRA/KOAT/CNN) - Four members of a religious sect in New Mexico are now in jail. Two of them are accused of sexual abuse involving minors.

The others are charged in connection with the death of a child. The group is called "Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps."

It's a religious sect that was founded in Sacramento in the early 1980s. They left the state, after losing a lawsuit to a former member who says the group forced her to give up three of her children.

That woman, Maura Schmierer, spoke Tuesday about the charges facing the four sect members.

"At that time, I didn't think it was a cult," Schmierer said. "No. Nobody in there thinks of themselves as being in a cult."

She and her husband were the third and fourth members, but it eventually grew to about 30, living in an isolated compound.

"They would want us to beat the children," Schmierer said. "They wanted me to whip my young child, who was under 2 years old with a belt, because he didn't use the toilet."

Schmierer defied that.

"They changed my name to Forsaken, and they put me out in a shed in the backyard," she said.

That's when she got out and worked to regain custody of her four kids. Schmierer talked with KCRA 3 News then, in the late '80s, saying, "I was afraid. I was under their influence. I believed that if I left I would lose out on eternal salvation."

The remaining Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps members moved in 1989, eventually settling in New Mexico. Four members were arrested Sunday during a raid.

Member Stacey Miller in now in jail. Court documents show her son died after she refused to get him medical treatment in 2014.

The group's co-founder, Deborah Green, faces charges that include sexual penetration of a minor. Her son-in-law, Peter Green, face more than 100 charges of that same crime, and Joshua Green, Deborah Green's son, failure to report a birth.

After leaving the group in the '80s, a court awarded Schmierer more than $1 million - money she's yet to see. Now, more than 30 years after she got out, Schmierer still shutters watching Deborah Green.

"The same feelings come up," she said. "I get a knot in my stomach."

She hopes these arrests are the end of the religious sect.

"It's time that their ministry is shut down," she said.

In a statement, Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps calls the charges "totally false."

Copyright 2017 KCRA and KOAT via CNN. All rights reserved.