Minn. Cult Leader Pleads Guilty To Sexually Abusing Underage Girls

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Pine County man accused of abusing underage girls who were in his religious cult has struck a plea deal with prosecutors.

Victor Barnard, 55, was charged with 59 counts of sexual abuse in 2014. He fled the United States and was living as a fugitive in Brazil until he was captured by military police in early 2015.

He pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Victor Barnard mugshot from 2016 (credit: Pine Co. Sheriff's Office)

Victor Barnard mugshot from 2016 (credit: Pine Co. Sheriff’s Office)

Barnard led the River Road Fellowship, a private Christian community, for years in Pine County.

Authorities accused Barnard of running a cult in which he created a separate “Maidens Group” camp, living separately with girls and women aged 12 to 24.

The plea deal states that 57 of the 59 charges will be dropped against Barnard, and he will serve a total sentence of 30 years in prison.

Barnard will be sentenced on Oct. 28.


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