Pine County sect leader Victor Barnard gets 30 years for teen sex assault

Pioneer Press

PUBLISHED: October 28, 2016

PINE CITY, Minn. — The leader of an isolated religious sect in Minnesota was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison, weeks after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two teenage girls who were members of his community.

Victor Barnard, 55, agreed to the 30-year sentence as part of his plea deal earlier this month in Pine County.

Barnard was the longtime leader of the River Road Fellowship near Finlayson, about 90 miles north of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

In 2012, two women came forward and told authorities that Barnard began assaulting them when they were as young as 12 and 13. The women said they were among about 10 girls and young women who were chosen to live in a camp apart from their families as part of Barnard’s “Maidens Group.”

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