Minnesota Cult Leader to Spend 30 Years Behind Bars for Rape
Victor Barnard Operated a Cult for More than 10 Years
Jess Schlisky and Lindsay Tornambe were just 12 and 13 years old, when Victor Barnard chose them as 2 of his 10 Maidens to live with him away from their parents and families. It was in a rural place he called Shepherd’s Camp, just outside of Finlayson Minnesota. There he sexually, emotionally and physically abused the two girls, coercing them in to sex by means of intimidation and manipulation.
After years of abuse, the women broke their silence, and today, appeared at the court hearing to testify against the man that had stolen their childhood and innocence.
“We’ve had each other to remind each other that we’re strong, we’re survivors, we have had incredible families that have helped us,” said Schlinsky.
In a move that Barnard’s attorneys explain is a way to help the women heal from the atrocities they faced, Barnard negotiated a plea deal without taking the case to trial, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with a chance to walk free in 20 years depending on his behavior.
“It was very clear to us from our client that he did not want a trial both the two young women involved in this case, the church, the community, all the other collateral people involved,” said Marsh Halberg, Barnard’s Defense Attorney.
but the women believe he took the plea deal to stop the details of the cult from being leaked in public
“For him to say that hes doing it to spare us is not…it’s very cowardly, it’s offensive,” said Schlinsky.
Of the 10 women who were once maidens, Tornambe and Schlinsky are the only ones who have come forward with their stories.
“Coming forward was hard for us but it wasn’t just for us, it was for them too,” said Schlinsky. “If every one of them or even some of them are victims of the same crime, at least they know… if they weren’t brave enough to stand up for themselves, we stood up for them.”
Both women say they don’t keep in touch with the other women.
Though Schlinsky and Tornambe say they both still experience nightmares and deal with post traumatic stress disorder, they have both found friends and family who continue to support them
“Jess and I, we were the two youngest of the maidens, and we’re the ones who put him in prison, for 30 years, and if that doesn’t give someone power than, I don’t know what will,” said Tornambe.