Convicted cult leader Victor Barnard beaten in prison

Convicted cult leader Victor Barnard was violently assaulted Sunday night at the state prison in Rush City, Fox 9 has learned.

Barnard was taken by ambulance to an undisclosed hospital where he remains in the intensive care unit.  His injuries, while serious, are not considered life-threatening. 

For patient confidentiality reasons, the Minnesota Department of Corrections will not comment on the case, but a spokesperson confirms there was an offender assault on Sunday night that remains under active investigation.

Barnard’s defense attorney, David Risk, tells the Fox 9 Investigators Barnard recently told his case worker he had received threats from fellow inmates. Risk says the case worker told Barnard not to worry.

In October, Barnard was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexually assaulting two of his young followers for nearly a decade, beginning when they were 12 and 13 year olds.  In February 2014, The Fox 9 Investigators were the first to expose the religious group, The River Road Fellowship, and Barnard’s sexual abuse of his followers. Those stories led criminal charges, a global fugitive manhunt for Barnard, leading to his capture in Brazil, and his extradition back to the U.S. to face 58 counts of sexual abuse. 

Rush City holds a special significance for Barnard and his followers, which once numbered 140.  Barnard moved to Rush City 25 years ago with his family and several of his followers to begin a religious group with former members of the Way International.  Barnard lived on a street called River Road in Rush City and the group adopted it as the name of their group.