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Cult leader accused of sex abuse of minors arrested in Brazil

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Victor Barnard
On April 11, 2014, the Pine County Attorney's Office issued a criminal complaint against Victor Barnard.
Courtesy Washington State Patrol

Victor Arden Barnard, wanted by Pine County for 59 counts of criminal sexual assault, was arrested Friday night in Rio de Janeiro, the U.S. Marshals Service has confirmed.

Brazilian media outlets reported earlier in the day that the former Minnesota cult leader accused of sex crimes involving underage girls was taken in to custody at a beach condominium in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.

Barnard, 53, has been a fugitive since he was charged in Pine County last April. Pine County authorities allege that Barnard assaulted girls as young as 12 years old between 2000 and 2009. The girls were members of a Christian group Barnard led called the River Road Fellowship, based near Finlayson.

The arrest involved coordination between the U.S. Marshals Service International Investigations Branch and law enforcement and military in Brazil. Barnard will be held in Brazil until he is formally extradited to Pine County.

Barnard has been on the U.S. Marshal's Top 15 Most Wanted fugitives list since November.