Minister accused of 59 counts of molesting girls
CNN — Preacher accused of 59 counts of molesting girls in Minnesota.
Authorities nationwide are searching for a Minnesota minister accused of 59 felony counts of criminal sexual conduct with two young girls while they were members of his church.
Victor Barnard, 52, was last seen in Spokane, Washington, according to a written statement from the Washington State Patrol.
On April 11, prosecutors in Pine County, Minnesota, issued a criminal complaint after a two-year investigation into allegations from two women about Barnard’s alleged conduct while he was preaching to a religious group in Finlayson, Minnesota.
Lindsay Tornambe is one of the two women, who are referred to as “B” and “C” in the complaint. Now 27, she lives in Bethesda, Maryland. She wants Barnard to go to prison. “I definitely don’t want him hurting anyone else and ruining other people’s lives like mine was,” she told CNN.
The complaint says Tornambe alleges that she was sexually abused by Barnard from the ages of 13 to 22 while she and her parents were members of the River Road Fellowship. Tornambe told investigators that Barnard created a group of 10 young girls and women who were known as Alamoths, or maidens. Her group was sent to what she thought was a summer camp, the document says.
Tornambe alleges that Barnard first molested her after he preached to her that he represented Jesus Christ in the flesh. She told investigators that she estimated that Barnard sexually assaulted her one to three times a month until she left in 2010 to be with her parents, who had moved to Pennsylvania.
In fall 2011, she was contacted by another former maiden who shared a similar story; she said she was molested by Barnard from the time she was 12 until she was 20, although she said the number of sexual acts varied each month.
Tornambe and the other woman went to the police in Minnesota. Barnard had moved to Washington state after an admission to affairs with married women caused the religious group to split, the complaint says.
Both women said Barnard sometimes became upset with them and was violent. They also said their parents were called to a meeting — after Barnard allegedly had begun to rape them — where he told the parents he might have sex with them.
Tornambe’s father told investigators that he knew what Barnard was telling them was wrong, but there was pressure to not be exiled from the church and “lose everything he had.”
The ministry operated in a secluded area of Pinesure to not be exiled from the church and County from about 2000 until 2011 or 2012, said Chief Deputy Steven Blackwell of the County Sheriff’s Office. The fellowship vacated the property shortly after a new sheriff was elected and began investigating the ministry, Blackwell said. The Salvation Army now runs a family camp there, he said.
In the complaint, an investigating officer with the Washington State Patrol said he spoke with an elder in the church who had two daughters who were maidens. That elder denied that a group had ever been separated from their parents.
CNN attempted to reach the man Wednesday night, as well as a man described in the complaint as Barnard’s right-hand man, but was unsuccessful.
Lt. Shane Nelson, a criminal investigations officer for the Washington State Patrol, said officers were unable to find Barnard and it was possible he had fled the area. There are no charges against Barnard in Washington, Nelson said.