(KMSP) - Minnesota cult leader Victor Barnard is appealing his criminal conviction in which he plead guilty to sexually molesting two of his teenage followers. As part of a plea bargain, Barnard had agreed to a 30 year prison sentence.
The notice of appeal was filed Tuesday by Amy Lawler, an Assistant State Public Defender. Barnard’s attorneys for his criminal case were unaware an appeals was in the works.
The move also caught Pine County Attorney Reese Frederickson by surprise. Frederickson is unaware of the grounds for the appeal since Barnard plead guilty and agreed to the sentence.
Barnard is still hospitalized after he was assaulted two weeks ago at the state prison in Rush City. The Minnesota Department of Corrections will only say an inmate was assaulted, and would not detail the nature of the injuries.
On Tuesday, Barnard and 15 followers were also served with a lawsuit from one of his victims, Lindsay Tornambe. The lawsuit claims the leadership of the River Road Fellowship failed to protect her from “the perversions of Victor Barnard.”
It was a Fox 9 Investigation two years ago that revealed Barnard sexually abused two of his followers who were members of the “Maidens,” a group of 10 first born daughters in the group who were to serve Victor Barnard. The story led to a re-opening of the investigation against Barnard, a 58 count indictment against him, an international manhunt, and his eventual extradition back to Minnesota.
Barnard plead guilty last year to two counts of sexual misconduct. As part of a plea agreement he was sentenced in October to 30 years in prison.