Brazilian police arrest ‘devil incarnate’ US sect leader

Police in Brazil have arrested an American sect leader described as the “devil incarnate” for alleged sex attacks on girls at his US religious camp.

Victor Barnard, 53, who was on the US Marshals Service most-wanted list, was arrested in an apartment near white-sanded Praia da Pipa beach, about 2,000km from Rio de Janeiro.

A 33-year-old Brazilian woman was taken into custody with him and police seized computers, mobile phones, pen drives and other objects. The self-professed minister is being held in the city of Natal to await extradition to the US, where he faces 59 counts of criminal sexual conduct.

According to a criminal complaint, two women said they were among about 10 girls and young women chosen to live apart from their families in a “maidens group” at a camp Barnard set up near Finlayson, Minnesota, about 150km north of Minneapolis.

One woman claims Barnard sexually abused her from the age of 13 and continued until she was 22. The other said her ordeal occurred between 12 and 20.

He allegedly told one victim she would remain a virgin because he was a “man of God”. Investigators believe Barnard abused other girls but have been unable to get them to come forward. Most of the criminal counts against him carry maximum sentences of 30 years in prison.

Cindi Currie, who said she had visited Barnard’s River Road Fellowship camp in Minnesota years ago called Barnard “the devil incarnate,”.

Brazilian authorities said Barnard entered the country legally in 2012.


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