PINE COUNTY, Minn. (KMSP) - Cult leader Victor Barnard pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges on Tuesday in Pine County, Minnesota. Barnard will spend 30 years in prison. Barnard pleaded guilty to two of 52 counts and agreed to upward departure. In court, Barnard said he wanted to spare the victims a trial.
In 2014, the Fox 9 Investigators broke the story about Barnard and his River Road Fellowship after two women who were part of the group called "the Maidens" came forward to say Barnard sexually abused them for a decade, beginning when they were just 12 and 13 years old.
Barnard once had 140 followers, who believed his word was "the word of God."
June 18, 2016: Alleged Minnesota cult leader extradited to Pine County
March 1, 2015: Cult leader Victor Barnard arrested at Brazilian beach house
April 24, 2014: VICTOR BARNARD: Ex-follower says cult leader defended molester
April 17, 2014: VICTOR BARNARD: The history of a cult leader
February 26, 2014: Investigators: Maidens of River Road
Prosecutors declined to file charges in the case until the Fox 9 Investigation exposed Barnard and the group. The charges led to a global manhunt for Barnard, who was captured last year in Brazil in the company of one of his female followers.
Fox 9 first reported the story in February 2014 when two women broke their silence about the cult, accusing Barnard of years of sexual abuse.
In April of 2014, prosecutors in Pine County charged Barnard with sexual misconduct. He then became the subject of an international manhunt, as investigators believed he had gone to Brazil, where he had other followers. It wasn't until late February of 2015 that authorities arrested Barnard in the southern coast of Rio Grande do Norte, according to Globo, who reported he had been staying with a 33-year-old woman who was a known Barnard follower.
At the time of this arrest, he was on the U.S. Marshals' 15 most wanted list, and a $25,000 reward had been offered for his arrest. He was also one of the top fugitives wanted by Interpol.