A nationwide manhunt is currently underway for former Minnesota minister, Victor Barnard who is charged with raping 10 underage girls over the course of a decade. As if that is not pathetic enough, he used the Bible as a means to manipulate the girls into believing that having sex with him was God’s will.
For more than 15 years, Barnard ran a religious cult known as the River Road Fellowship near the town of Finlayson in northern Minnesota. There were 150 followers in the group, many with young daughters. The cult leader systematically brainwashed the parents into believing that at a certain age their daughters were to come and live with him at a place called Shepherd’s Camp. He called the group of young girls “The Maidens” and kept them isolated from their parents. While Barnard led everyone to believe The Maidens were virgins, the girls soon came to understand that being a maiden meant having sex with him. Starting at the age of 12 or 13, he secretly used the 10 girls for his own sick sexual pleasures.
Barnard used spiritual coercion and intimidation to prey on the young girls by telling them his word was the word of God. He told them that in the Bible it said all the firstborn children were supposed to be sacrificed to God. He went on to tell them this was his way of teaching them about love. At times, he even dressed up like Jesus, as seen in the picture above. He even asked some of the parents if he could have sex with their daughters, despite the fact he had already been having sex with them for months.
Four years ago the cult separated after adult married women admitted they too were having sex with the leader. The former Minnesota minister, Victor Barnard, then took somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 followers and moved to Spokane, Washington thinking he would never be charged and convicted with the rape of the 10 underage girls he sexually abused for more than a decade.
Two years ago, some of the girls, who are now grown, came forward telling police what Barnard had done to them while they were still underage, but for some reason, the case stalled and did not go anywhere. Eventually, their claims would be taken seriously. One girl kept a record of all the sexual encounters she had with him by placing an X in the corner of her calendar by each date he forced her to have sex with him. She was very smart to keep up with Barnard’s assaults because her calendar is now being used as evidence to add up charges against him. Each X on the calendar stands for a separate count of sexual assault against a minor child. In all, there are 59 charges.
Police officers tried to make contact with Barnard in Spokane and were prepared to arrest him. However, he was nowhere to be found and his followers played dumb, denying that they had any knowledge of his whereabouts.
Currently, the former minister and cult leader is considered a fugitive and is on the run from law enforcement. It is believed that he may have skipped the country or be in the process of trying to leave. Homeland Security is actively looking for him at both airports and U.S. borders. Meanwhile, detectives in Spokane believe he may still be in the area, moving between houses to go undetected. With more than 50 followers standing guard and helping the former Minnesota minister, it may take some time for police to be able to catch Victor Barnard and bring him to justice on charges associated with the rape of 10 underage girls.
Opinion By Donna W. Martin