RELIGION

Minnesota sect leader gets 30 years in teen sex assault

The leader of an isolated religious sect in Minnesota has been sentenced to 30 years in prison, weeks after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two teenage girls.

Victor Barnard was sentenced Friday in Pine County.

The 55-year-old was the longtime leader of the River Road Fellowship near Finlayson, about 90 miles north of Minneapolis.

In 2012, two women told authorities that Barnard began assaulting them when they were as young as 12 and 13. The women said they were among about 10 girls and young women chosen to live as part of Barnard's secluded "Maidens Group." Authorities say he used religious coercion to control them.

Barnard was a fugitive when he was charged in April 2014. He was arrested in Brazil last year after an international manhunt.