APn 03/02 1336 Krishna Children Copyright, 1988. The Associated Press. All rights reserved
APn 03/02 1336 Krishna Children
Copyright, 1988. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By PAIGE St. JOHN Associated Press Writer
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Children at a Hare Krishna commune have
been subjected to sexual abuse and forced into communal marriages,
according a court petition filed by a former sect member seeking custody
of her children.
The petition was filed with the state Supreme Court, which gave no
immediate answer Tuesday to the appeal by Christina Mills, a former Hare
Krishna member who claims her children are in danger at the religious
sect's West Virginia commune.
Mills alleges that New Vrindaban, the nation's largest Krishna
community, is fraught with polygamy, child molestation and sexual abuse,
her lawyer told the court Tuesday.
Mills, now a legal secretary in San Antonio, Texas, is asking the
high court to remove her three children, ages 2, 3 and 6, from their
father's care at New Vrindaban.
"These children have no protection today but in this court," lawyer
David Gold told justices.
The northern West Virginia community is the target of several federal
and state investigations.
A family law master had ruled that the children were in jeopardy at
the commune, but a circuit judge stayed that order at the request of the
children's father, Dennis Gorrick. Mills is appealing that stay.
Gorrick's attorney, James Lees, said the family law master has issued
a gag order on the case and he could not discuss it.
Members of the commune have faced criminal charges, including murder
and manslaughter charges against fringe members of the commune, and
child molestation charges against two former commune teachers. The
sect's leader, Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, recently was found
innocent of arson charges, although another commune member was convicted
in the case.
The Krishnas have denied any wrongdoing and have accused authorities
Mills' petitions make a broad range of allegations against the
Gorrick "has been simultaneously `married' to the petitioner and
other women, said marriages being ordered by the swami," according to
Children at New Vrindaban "have been subject to sexual abuse by the
very teachers entrusted with their safety and well-being. Said abuse
includes the repeated and systematic oral and anal homosexual rape of
school children at said school by the headmaster," according to the
"Parents who have confronted the swami about said sexual abuse have
been advised by said swami that, `sex is sex,"' the petition states.
"Authorities at (New Vrindaban) regularly contribute to the
delinquency of minors, by forcing girls ... to drop out of school and
marry ... as young as the age of 12 years," the petition states.
Gorrick, whom Mills calls the commune's chief fund-raiser, "has
directly caused or contributed" to the alleged practice of using commune
children as young as 11 to solicit donations, according to the petition.
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