Longtime cult leader pleads guilty to sexually assaulting teens

He was accused of ruling over a camp of young girls he called "maidens."
Author:
Updated:
Original:

A cult leader who was the subject of an international manhunt has pleaded guilty to sexual assault.

Victor Barnard, 55, was the longtime leader of the River Road Fellowship in Finlayson, Minnesota. He pleaded guilty to two charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Pine County District Court Tuesday, court documents show.

Pine County officials brought 59 charges against Barnard in 2014. Prosecutors said he ruled over a camp of young girls he called "maidens," abusing at least two girls for nearly a decade starting when they were just 12 and 13 years old.

The charges against Barnard prompted a nationwide warrant for his arrest, and he was soon placed on the U.S. Marshals' 15 most wanted fugitives list. In February 2015 he was arrested in Brazil, before eventually being extradited back to Minnesota.

As part of Tuesday's plea deal, which both his victims agreed to, Barnard is expected to be sentenced to 30 years in prison at a hearing on Oct. 28, court records note.

Following Tuesday's deal, Barnard's attorney said he took the plea deal to spare his victims – and his remaining followers – the ordeal of a trial, Star Tribune reporter Jennifer Brooks tweeted.

Next Up

Sergio Romo

Twins decline 2021 option on Sergio Romo

The Twins begin a potential overhaul in the bullpen.

high school football

'Scalpel approach' gives MN schools chance to keep playing sports

County infection rates are no longer the only thing that matters.

CJ-AHyggeHoliday-Photo2

With the help of HVAC, Circus Juventas will host its first holiday shows

After months of canceled classes and shows, Circus Juventas is hosting its first ever holiday show, with safety precautions.

Cameron Dantzler

Vikings send Cameron Dantzler to COVID-19/reserve list

Dantzler's placement leaves the Vikings paper-thin at cornerback heading into Green Bay.

peterson fischbach

Elections 2020 preview: 7th Congressional District

Will Collin Peterson hang on for yet another term?

Zimmer and Hunter

Zimmer explains why he called Hunter's neck injury a 'tweak'

The coach also said Dalvin Cook should return from injury this week.

magazines

60 charged in magazine scam that netted $300M

It's being called the largest elder fraud scheme in the country.

Screen Shot 2020-10-28 at 10.30.23 AM

The Star Tribune is shutting down City Pages

The free newspaper was bought by the Star Tribune in 2015.

billy's on grand

Coronavirus: Billy's on Grand will close for winter

The restaurant is among a growing list of eateries to close for the winter months.

Related