PINE COUNTY, Minn. (KMSP) - A Pine County judge sentenced cult leader Victor Barnard to 30 years in prison courtroom Friday afternoon. Barnard, 55, pleaded guilty on Oct. 11 to 2 of the 59 criminal charges he faced. He will spend 30 years in prison, and be eligible for release after 20 years.
Barnard gave the following statement in court:
“God is good, his word faithful and true. I have not always walked in goodness. I am deeply sorrowful … and I hope God will heal their broken hearts.”
In 2014, the Fox 9 Investigators broke the story about Victor Barnard and his River Road Fellowship. 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."
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.
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
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.