Mar 31, 2016

Pine County cult leader accused of rape asks to be extradited from Brazil

Victor Barnard reportedly asked to be sent back from Brazil to face rape charges. 


By Jennifer Brooks

Star Tribune 

MARCH 28, 2016


Brazilian authorities will extradite accused cult leader Victor Barnard to Minnesota to face charges that he raped young girls in his congregation.

Barnard himself requested the extradition after spending more than a year in a Brazilian prison, his attorney says.

Minneapolis attorney Dave Risk confirmed Monday that the Brazilian Supreme Court has approved Barnard's extradition request on the condition that any prison sentence not exceed 30 years. No extradition date has been set, but Risk said Barnard will likely be returned sometime in the next six months.

"We do believe he is on his way back," Risk said. "He did himself request to be sent back."

Barnard faces 59 counts of first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly molesting young girls he called "maidens" in his Pine County congregation.

He left the congregation's isolated community in Finlayson, Minn., in 2010 under a cloud of suspicion for his behavior during his years at the head of the River Road Fellowship. In 2012, two former followers approached the Pine County Sheriff's Office to report that Barnard began a sexual relationship with them when they were 12 and 13 years old and that the abuse continued for years.

American sect leader Victor Arden Barnard sits in a police station after being detained at Pipa beach, in the Northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Barnard is facing 59 counts of criminal sexual conduct related to two young women who said they were abused for nearly a decade at his secluded River Road Fellowship in Minnesota.


Pine County leveled charges against Barnard in 2014, setting off an international manhunt. He was arrested in February 2015 in a Brazilian resort town, where he was sheltering with one of his former maidens — a follower from a wealthy Brazilian family.

Media in Brazil reported in November that Barnard had been hospitalized after an apparent suicide attempt in jail.

Pine County Attorney Reese Frederickson, who inherited the Barnard case when he took office in 2014, confirmed that Brazilian authorities have agreed to extradite Barnard, but said he does not yet know the timeframe.

Risk, a partner in the Minneapolis-based Halberg Criminal Defense law firm, said the timing of Barnard's return will depend on Pine County and U.S. authorities.


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