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Search for sexually abused
A year 2000 massive class action lawsuit on behalf of former Hare Krishna children who were abused, while in the movement’s schools and centres, led to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) — the official name of the organisation better popularly known as the Hare Krishnas — filing for bankruptcy in the USA in 2002.
Almost 100 alleged victims claimed that they were raped or physically abused while living in Hare Krishna boarding schools known as ashram based gurukulas. These schools were scattered around several US States, while some others were in India.
As part of the legal requirements and the bankruptcy process, a number of US Hare Krishna temples and centres are placing legal notices in various publications and on Websites urging victims to make claims if they want to be compensated under a proposed bankruptcy reorganisation plan. The plan is to be submitted to federal bankruptcy courts in California and West Virginia in June.
Many of the victims were abused and/or mistreated whilst at the boarding schools during the 1970s and 1980s.
According to Wendell Turley, the Texas plaintiffs’ lawyer who is handling the suit, said when it was filed in Texas in 2000, that the victims were subjected to ’the most unthinkable abuse and maltreatment of little children which we have seen. It includes rape, sexual abuse, physical torture and emotional terror of children as young as 3 years of age’.
ISKCON’s Los Angeles lawyer, David Liberman, stated that the Hare Krishna society hoped to settle as many cases as possible under the proposed bankruptcy proceedings, including cases of those who have not yet filed suit.
ISKCON claims to have about 250 000 devotees worldwide, with about 75 000 members in the US of whom about 10 000 live at Hare Krishna temples.
(From TACL Vol 24 #2 March/May 2003)