Skip to main content

Longtime cult leader pleads guilty to sexually assaulting teens

He was accused of ruling over a camp of young girls he called "maidens."

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

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 4.54.42 PM

FBI, police investigating bank robbery at Edina's 50th and France

An ATM technician was robbed by four men at a U.S. Bank.

Ethan Glynn

Paralyzed Bloomington football player begins rehabilitation in Colorado

Ethan Glynn is at a world-renowned rehabilitation hospital.

Press Bar fire

Owner of St. Cloud bar gets 6 years for arson, ordered to repay $3M

A February 2020 fire at the Press Bar and Parlor was later determined to be an insurance job.

IMG_5455

Bloomington, Richfield districts tighten security ahead of weekend football

Enhanced safety measures will be in place this weekend.

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 2.23.15 PM

Walz sends MN first responders to help with hurricane recovery in Florida

Eight members of the Minnesota All Hazards Incident Management Team will travel to Florida.

drought

It was the driest September in Twin Cities modern history

Less than a quarter inch of rain fell in September.

Jay James Olson

Sauk Rapids man pleads guilty to making, selling ghost guns

The 21-year-old would sell unserialized guns, silencers, auto-sears, and high-capacity magazines.

Pixabay - gray squirrel

Squirrel blamed for Friday power outage impacting over 5,000 homes

There's no telling when or where the squirrels will strike next.

Related

Anoka Middle School for Arts

Former Anoka school teacher pleads guilty to sexually assaulting teen boys

The assaults occurred between 2010-2019, court documents say, when the boys were as young as 14.

Former MN cult leader sentenced to 30 years in prison

The former leader of the River Road Fellowship received the maximum sentence for sexually abusing two women.

Bryan Ellinger

Former Ren Fest supervisor pleads guilty to sexually assaulting 3 teens

The three victims worked with Bryan Ellinger at the time of the assaults.

Charges: Man sexually assaulted teen, tried to secretly record girl

Charges against the girls' mother say she didn't take steps to prevent abuse.

Former teacher accused of sexually assaulting female student

The alleged assaults happened when the girl was in high school.

Man charged with sexual assault, murder in death of 5-year-old Alayna Ertl

Zachary Todd Anderson was charged Tuesday in connection with the death of Alayna Ertl.