Official response to "Violent Abuse Continues at New Vrindavana"
Posted May 18, 2005
To the Editor:
I am writing in response to the anonymous letter posted on Chakra, May 13, 2005, "Violent Abuse Continues at New Vrindavana."
The letter raises serious concerns for all devotees and members of ISKCON. Too many children suffered abuse in the past and we must all be diligent to guard our communities against abuse today.
At the same time, we must be cautious that our concern not over-reach to feed rumor mills or spread undocumented allegations. The author of the May 13 letter unfortunately has done that by including serious errors and inaccuracies within her appeal for the children. While I agree with the author's spirit of caring, we also need to be cautious in dealing with such serious matters.
First, let me state that at New Vrindavana we take allegations of abuse seriously.
A case in point is the community's response to the allegations of abuse by James Prins/Sacinandana Das that arose several years ago. The May 13 author mistakenly claims that Prins was aided by the "current authorities of New Vrindavana so that he would not get the lawful reactions he should." This is false and grossly inaccurate. It was, in fact, ISKCON child protection inquires that led to a police investigation in the case. The New Vrindavana authorities fully cooperated and assisted with that investigation. Sacinandana das went to trial, was found guilty, and served jail time for his crimes. He is also cooperative with CPO requirements.
Regarding the more recent allegations of abuse of a teen age girl that were raised in the letter: It was (again) the ISKCON New Vrindavana authorities that reported the alleged abuse to the local government authorities. The ISKCON Child Protection Office was also informed.
I am not at liberty to discuss details of the case because it is still under investigation by the legal authorities. However, I can say that the May 13 letter contained major inaccuracies and multiple errors and discrepancies. (Perhaps in the future, CHAKRA may wish to adopt a policy requiring a minimal confirmation of facts before publishing anonymous letters.)
As one of New Vrindaban's leaders since 1996, I pledge to do whatever I can to assure that our children and our community are safe. Our first concern will always be the safety and well-being of our children. I know that Srila Prabhupada will not accept anything less. And, I will do my best to fulfill his desire.