By Brian Birmingham

There is a new development in the child abuse case at the Hare Krishna TKG Academy in Dallas, Texas.

Documents obtained by CultNews reveal that the parents of the abused child did not immediately report the abuse when they were questioned by hospital staff and authorities.

ISKCON’s Child Protection Office did complete a report confirming the abuse, but it is not clear if that written report was copied to Child Protective Services (CPS) in Dallas.

See the official report by ISKCON’s Child Protection Office.

See this detailed narrative compiled by the family of the abused child.

Hare Krishna Devotees

But both parents of the abused child failed to explain what happened when questioned by child protective services and medical personnel. Sadly, they lied to CPS and the hospital staff, in order to protect the school and the Hare Krishna community in Dallas.

Failure to pursue the child abuse may have occurred at multiple levels.

First, and foremost, ISKCON CPO, which was created to protect children, had a responsibility to share their report with the authorities in Texas, and to demand definitive action be taken by the temple in Dallas.

It must be noted that at the end of the ISKCON CPO report it states, “Case was reported to local Dallas child protective services (CPS). No further action was taken by CPS once they determined that Rasakeli was no longer teaching at TKG Academy, and Ramananda was no longer under Rasakeli’s care.”

But what does “case reported” mean?

CultNews cannot confirm that ISKCON’s final report was sent directly to CPS.

Someone may have reported something to CPS, but Dallas CPS would not confirm who reported the abuse. Only that there is a record.

CultNews has made a record request, which is now pending, to determine the details.

The family claims that they offered to share medical records related to the abuse with the Dallas temple.

Here is what the father stated online:

“Jan[uary] late Jan[uary] – Social services/social worker calls our home asking about abuse, if our child was being abused and questioning if he had access to the restroom, and when was he potty trained, etc. They said that such frequent UTI’s [urinary tract infections] are not normal in a boy and is also a common sign of a child being in a situation of where they are being abused. Doctors had also expressed concern about the dangerous bacteria that had been found in his urine. We do not, at that time, provide any information about the school and Rasakeli [the abusuive teacher] not letting Ramananda use the bathroom in fear of causing trouble with the school. We did speak with the school and started mentioning the concerns from doctors and how they had social workers call us asking questions. We also asked both school principal and school board if they needed to see the hospital papers or speak with the doctors, they never reply.”

Hare Krisha kids

Here is the mission statement of the CPO according to its website:

“Our mission is to protect the children of Srila Prabhupada’s Movement from child abuse and neglect. By doing so, we strengthen the future of the Movement —the children—while providing an example to the world of a spiritual society that practices compassionate caring and protection.”

See ISKCON Child Protection Office

However, it appears that ISKCON’s CPO failed to take decisive direct action by actively encouraging and insisting upon a criminal investigation regarding child abuse as no criminal charges are evident.

And apparently the Dallas Hare Krishna Temple has done little to punish the teacher that abused the minor child, who remains within the Dallas Hare Krishna community.

So, how effective is the ISKCON Child Protection Office?

Is it adequately protecting the children of ISKCON from child abuse and neglect, or is its purpose rather public relations through investigations that accomplish nothing definitive?

ISKCON seems to be more concerned about lawsuits than protecting its children.

The abusive teacher at the Dallas Hare Krishna school was found guilty of child abuse by the ISKCON CPO. So why isn’t she being criminally charged and/or purged from the community?

It must be noted that according to sources inside the Dallas Hare Krishna community the Dallas temple leaders sought to have the CPO report findings reversed.

Is the Dallas temple more concerned with protecting its children from abuse or protecting its teacher and silencing criticism?

Krishna Temple, Dallas

The safety of children must come first, or so ISKCON has publicly stated.

Have the leaders of the Dallas Hare Krishna Temple learned nothing from their past mistakes?

Has ISKCON learned anything from the personal injury lawsuits that forced the organization into bankruptcy?

It seems that neither ISKCON nor the local temple in Dallas have genuinely learned much from the past mistakes, which hurt so many people. And apparently these religious institutions plagued in the past by child abuse scandals, may continue to have the same problems in the future.

Does ISKCON mandate reporting to the CPS and local police when a child is abused?

Or instead simply paper over such abuse by producing a report from its CPO, with no specific policy of mandated reporting to authorities by its affiliated temples?

What is the meaningful outcome and consequence of child abuse within ISKCON?

Will there be criminal charges far all of those found guilty of child abuse?

How does ISKCON’s CPO and its affiliated temples actually protect Krishna kids?

CultNews has updated this report based upon the latest disclosures from Dallas CPS and will continue to do so as records are delivered and further scrutinized.

Note: Brian Birmingham is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a BA in Psychology and Sociology. He is a native of Dallas.

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By Brian Birmingham

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (also known as ISKCON, or colloquially as “the Hare Krishnas”) was founded in New York City in 1966, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In its heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s, ISKCON was one of the most recognized new religious movements introduced to the United States. ISKCON enjoyed some positive attention in the media. George Harrison of the Beatles was one of the most noteworthy of the celebrities who helped to promote ISKCON.

History of scandal

As it grew in the US, ISKCON became increasingly controversial and was one of most notorious groups called “cults” drawing increasing attention based upon the behavior of its leadership and devotees. At times families tried to rescue their loved ones through interventions with cult deprogrammers.

ISKCON devotees

ISKCON was likewise plagued by scandal. This included its most influential leader in the 1980s. Ultimately that leader Swami Bhaktipada (aka Keith Gordon Ham) was criminally charged. Ham was one of the first Hare Krishna disciples in the United States and he ruled over the largest Hare Krishna community in the country near Moundsville, West Virginia. Ham eventually pleaded guilty to racketeering, fraud and conspiracy to commit murder. But he ended up only serving 8 years in prison.

ISKCON moved on to more scandal, which involved child abuse that took place within ISKCON boarding schools in the United States and India.

The reportedly horrific physicals and sexual abuse began in the 1970s and continued through the 1980s. A class-action lawsuit was filed in Dallas, Texas on behalf of the victims in 2001. ISKCON subsequently sought refuge in Federal Bankruptcy Court, which ultimately forced the adult children to accept a greatly reduced settlement.

ISKCON claimed it would implement sweeping changes to ensure that no such abuse would ever occur again.

Changes

One of the most important changes is that ISKCON temples became independent and autonomous legal entities. This insulated ISKCON regarding legal liability. So certain temples today are not officially “ISKCON” temples, but rather only ISKCON-affiliated. Under this arrangement, if a temple is sued for misconduct or abuse, the larger organization ISKCON itself theoretically cannot be held liable, leaving liable only the local temple and its leadership.

In Dallas, Texas the local leadership does business as the “Texas Krishnas, Inc.” This supposedly means that Dallas temple is wholly independent and not an ISKCON temple at all.

ISKCON has made a tremendous effort at public relations to burnish its tainted image. In the past twenty years, the organization has become adept at PR. Anuttama das, is now ISKCON’s “Minister of Communications” and he has done his best to soften the media perception of ISKCON and persuade the general public that ISKCON has changed, and for the better.

ISKCON has apparently curtailed most of its questionable activities.

But has it essentially changed, at least at the local level in Dallas, Texas?

Recent events prove that the answer to this question is “no.”

Abuse in Dallas

It has come to light the families of several students in the Dallas Hare Krishna school were interviewed by ISKCON’s “Child Protection Office,” which revealed that their children were being abused by a certain teacher there.

Dallas Krishna temple

The mother of one abused boy has written about abuses in the school on her Facebook page. She describes physical, psychological, and emotional abuse that her son endured. The boy was forced to urinate and defecate on himself, and was humiliated by the teacher in front of his classmates. The teacher would ridicule the boy, denigrating him and encouraging his classmates to do the same.

Investigation

Quotes from an ISKCON mother’s Facebook page as follows:

“The ISKCON Child Protection Office investigated this abusive teacher, and found her guilty of child abuse. She was removed from her position and is not teaching in the school today. However, at every step of the investigation the Dallas temple management, headed by the temple president, blocked the investigation by telling school administrators and others to lie, and by threatening families in various ways. After the Child Protection Office made their decision regarding the abusive teacher, the Dallas temple management further tried to undermine their judgment by threatening legal action against that office, in an effort to have their judgment and decision reversed.”

The only way that this family found resolution in their situation, was to physically move and leave Dallas entirely.

They’d been banned from the Dallas temple, and told that their services at the Dallas temple were no longer required.

Accountability

The leadership of the Dallas Hare Krishna temple is no more accountable or transparent than they were in 1972. And the abuse within the local Hare Krishna school in Dallas is still apparently going on as the hierarchy of this temple chose to side with the teacher, not the students and their families.

Despite all of the public relations efforts of Anuttama das and whatever he might say to sway the media, the Hare Krishnas, at least in Dallas, have not substantially changed, it seems, very much at all.

Note: Brian Birmingham is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a BA in Psychology and Sociology. He is a native of Dallas.

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