The investigation: Maidens of River Road
The charges: Cult leader charged with molesting "Maidens"
The arrest: Cult leader captured in Brazil
The follower who helped him
Thirty-three-year-old Maria Cristina Liberato has followed him, and some say adored him, since she lived in Minnesota as a member of the River Road Fellowship. She was one of the 10 "Maidens" who cared for Barnard and told to have sex with him.
According to news accounts in Brazil, for the last three years, Liberato has kept Barnard on the move. When he was caught, they were living in a condo in a gated luxury community. Barnard is currently in a Brazilian jail awaiting extradition, the trial expected to be held in Pine County. Liberato is charged with assisting a fugitive and was released on bail.
'I'm stronger than I was'
For Lindsay Tornambe, it's like the dream, that follows a nightmare: The capture of Victor Barnard in Brazil, near one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. He's the man she says molested her when she was just a child.
"I remember years ago Victor telling me if things got bad in the U.S. he'd go back to Brazil," Tornambe said.
His was the voice that inspired both fear and love. For more than a decade in Minnesota, Barnard led a group of 140 followers in rural Pine County known as the River Road Fellowship. A group of first-born girls, called "The Maidens," took care of him at a place they called Shepherd's Camp. Barnard even liked to dress the part.
Tornambe and her best friend, Jess Schweiss, were the youngest of the maidens, just 13 and 12 years old, when they say Barnard began having sex with them, even asking their parents' permission.
As young adults, both women came forward to tell the Pine County Sheriff about the abuse that went on for eight years. The sheriff tailed Barnard to Washington, where he moved six years ago with many of his followers, but the prosecutor at the time wouldn't issue an arrest warrant. Detectives watched helplessly as Barnard boarded a flight to Brazil. Barnard hadn't been seen since, until he was arrested Friday night.
Tornambe may have to face him in the courtroom, and she may also have to testify against her mother, and two sisters, who are still devoted followers of the man they consider a prophet.
"It's nerve wracking, I'm anxious, but at the same time, I'm stronger than I was even a year ago," Tornambe said. "In a way, I'm almost looking forward to seeing him in shackles and knowing that I helped him get this way, I helped put him in prison."