Victor Barnard sex cult charges: Most bizarre allegations
An undated photo of Barnard with his "Maidens."
Screengrab via Fox 9
On April 11, Victor Barnard, leader of a Christian religious sect called the River Road Fellowship, was charged with 59 felony counts of criminal sexual conduct in Pine County for allegedly forcing two young girls to regularly have sex with him between 2000 and 2009.
The lengthy criminal complaint makes for horrifyingly fascinating reading. It lays out how Barnard, who is currently the subject of a nationwide manhunt, separated the girls from their families, used religion to persuade them to enter sexual relationships with him, and then manipulated them into staying at "Shepherd's Camp" in Finlayson, Minnesota, even after they expressed a desire to leave.
We highlight the most bizarre allegations from the complaint below the jump.
Rev. Keating sex scandal: Read creepy emails 44-year-old seminary student sent girl, 14
5. Barnard called the his select group of virgins "Maidens." Some of them weren't yet teenagers when they moved into Shepherd's Camp (all quotations taken directly from criminal complaint):
"The leader and minister of the River Road Fellowship was Victor Arden Barnard, DOB 9-14-1961. In July 2000, Barnard set up a group of young females at Shepherd's Camp that were referred to as Alamoth or the Maidens Group ["Alamoth" is a word for virgin in the Bible]. B was invited by Barnard to join Alamoth and live at Shepherd's Camp. She and her father thought that this was a summer camp and she decided to go. She was thirteen years old when she moved to Shepherd's Camp. Nine other females also moved to Shepherd's Camp at the same time in July 2000. These girls ranged in age from 12-24."
4. Barnard told the parents of one of the girls who came forward to authorities years later that he might have sex with her, but that didn't seem to bother them (she was 14 at the time):
"In 2001, Barnard had a meeting with her and her parents and Barnard told her parents he might have sex with B. At that time he was already having sex with B but he did not say that. B then believed her parents knew and were okay with Barnard's behavior."
3. Ironically, it was a sex scandal of a far more traditional sort that initially tore River Road Fellowship apart:
"There had been a division in the group that caused many to separate because Barnard had admitted to having sexual relations with multiple married women in the group. Barnard came to Brazil to visit near the very end of B's trip [B was traveling with another Maiden who was from Brazil and had to head home because her visa had expired]. She then left Brazil and moved to Washington to be with the other remaining Maidens. When B arrived in Washington, she did not like it. She was upset by Barnard's confession to his affairs with married women and she wanted to be with her parents again. Before Barnard returned from Brazil, B moved to Pennsylvania to be with her parents. This was in 2010."
(For more click to page two.)
2. Barnard's second accuser told authorities she kept a calendar of the dates she had sex with him:
"C said the first time Barnard touched her sexually was on October 27, 2000. She was twelve. She knew the date because Barnard had given her a card the day after and she still had it. She also used to mark the anniversary of the date on her calendars, until Barnard forbid her from keeping calendars anymore.
C later provided Inv. Ludwig with the card from Barnard. It was dated October 28, 2000 and read, "To my beloved [C], I thank God for you as I remember your tears and love and believing. I have you in my heart and I'm so glad to be waiting and watching and longing together for our beloved lord Jesus Christ. Kept by His love together with you, Victor."
1. Barnard told the girls that thanks to him being the son of God, they'd remain virgins despite having sex with him:
"C said the first time it happened she was at the lodge with him where Barnard lived. She had been talking with him and he asked her if she wanted to have sex with him. She told him she did not. He asked her many times and began to explain that sex with him was not wrong because he was a Man of God and she would remain a virgin because of it. C said he quoted parts of Scripture, saying it gave him the authority to do this because he was Christ in the flesh. He began to touch her."
The FBI believes Barnard might be somewhere in Washington state. With good reason, they suspect he victimized far more than just the two women who have come forward so far.
In hopes he might be recognized, the FBI released this photo of Barnard:
Meanwhile, Barnard's two accusers, both now in their 20s, have been doing media interviews about the years they spent in the River Road Fellowship. You can read about what they've been saying here.
To check out the entire criminal complaint for yourself, click to page three.
Here's the complaint. The narrative portion begins on page 24:
-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at email@example.com.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.