PINE COUNTY, Minn. (KMSP) - Accused Minnesota cult leader Victor Barnard was all set to be extradited Thursday back to Minnesota from Brazil. Federal Marshals were preparing for the transfer to a jail in Pine County, Minn. And then, suddenly, the deal was off, for now.
Multiples sources tell the FOX 9 Investigators the diplomatic snafu comes down to the precise wording of the extradition agreement. As FOX 9 previously reported, Brazil’s Supreme Court said they would only release Barnard to U.S. custody if it is agreed that his sentence, if convicted of the charges in Minnesota, would not exceed 30 years in prison.
Sources said there was a flurry of diplomatic communiques between the U.S. Justice and State Department and authorities in Brazil, to try to iron out the issue. The U.S. may have some leverage with Brazil, which is hosting the Summer Olympics. Sources tell FOX 9 the issue should only take a few weeks to work out.
Barnard, 53, faces 52 counts of sexually abusing teenage girls who were called “Maidens” in his religious group, The River Road Fellowship. As the FOX 9 Investigators revealed in February 2014, the woman said Barnard told them he was sexually indoctrinating the girls, sometimes even getting their parents’ permission.
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 INVESTIGATORS: Maidens of River Road