Brazil Arrests U.S. Sect Leader Wanted On Sex Charges

In this photo released by Rio Grande do Norte State Security secretary, American sect leader Victor Arden Barnard sits in a police station after being detained at Pipa beach, in the Northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Barnard is facing 59 counts of criminal sexual conduct related to two young women who said they were abused for nearly a decade at his secluded River Road Fellowship in Minnesota. (AP Photo/Rio Grande do Norte State Security Secretary)

In this photo released by Rio Grande do Norte State Security secretary, American sect leader Victor Arden Barnard sits in a police station after being detained at Pipa beach, in the Northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Barnard is facing 59 counts of criminal sexual conduct related to two young women who said they were abused for nearly a decade at his secluded River Road Fellowship in Minnesota. (AP Photo/Rio Grande do Norte State Security Secretary)

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian authorities on Saturday announced the arrest of a self-professed minister on a U.S. most-wanted list for allegedly molesting two girls in a "Maidens Group" at his religious fellowship in rural Minnesota.

A statement posted on the website of the Public Security Secretariat for the Rio Grande do Norte state government confirmed the arrest of Victor Arden Barnard, 53.

It said police captured him Friday night in an apartment near a paradisiacal white-sand beach in northeastern Brazil. He was being held in the city of Natal to await extradition.

Bernard, who faces 59 counts of criminal sexual conduct, was on the U.S. Marshal Service's most-wanted list.

According to a criminal complaint in the U.S., two women said they were among about 10 girls and young women who lived apart from their families in a camp that Barnard set up near Finlayson, Minnesota, about 90 miles north of Minneapolis.

One woman alleged Barnard sexually abused her beginning at age 13 and continuing until she was 22. The other said her abuse occurred between ages 12 and 20.

Barnard allegedly kept the girls isolated, and U.S. authorities have said he used religious coercion and intimidation to maintain his control over them, calling it cult-like behavior.

Investigators believe Barnard abused other girls but have been unable to get others to come forward. Most of the criminal counts against him carry maximum sentences of 30 years in prison.

Feb 28, 6:24 PM ESTAP

 
 

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