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“The Vaishnava religious tradition to which Hare Krishna devotees adhere is a monotheistic branch of the Hindu faith. Vaishnava scriptures state that the protection and care of children is an essential religious practice.”

ANUTTAMA DASA
Responding to Lawsuit


Hare Krishnas Respond to Law Suit - Media Release
By Anuttama dasa

DATE: June 12, 2000

CONTACT: Anuttama Dasa

PHONE: (301) 299-9707

Washington, D.C.—A lawsuit alleging that child abuse occurred in the 1970's and 1980’s at several parochial schools and temples affiliated with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), known as the Hare Krishna movement, was filed on June 12, 2000, in the Federal District Court in Dallas, Texas. The suit seeks $400 million dollars in damages.

"The terrible malaise of child abuse has infected public and private schools, neighborhoods, churches, and families," said Anuttama Dasa, Director of ISKCON Communications. "It is very sad that some of the children of the Hare Krishna society have also been victimized," he said.

 "If the events alleged in this suit did occur," said Dasa, "we regret that they did, and we will make every effort to help address the needs of the young people named in the suit."

The Vaishnava religious tradition to which Hare Krishna devotees adhere is a monotheistic branch of the Hindu faith. Vaishnava scriptures state that the protection and care of children is an essential religious practice. According to Dasa, child abuse in any form is "gross violation" of Krishna principles.

Krishnas have made considerable efforts in recent years to prevent abuse and, when necessary, to provide counseling and financial assistance for past victims. In 1990, policies were established requiring abuse‑prevention education for Krishna children and the immediate reporting of all suspected abuse to government and legal authorities.

In 1996, the organization "Children of Krishna" was formed to help Krishna youth with education, vocational training and grants for college. In 1998, the ISKCON Office of Child Protection was established with a professional staff to:

1) work with ISKCON temples, managers and educators to enhance screening and child protection programs,

provide financial support and counseling for abuse victims, and

investigate and adjudicate allegations of past abuse, especially where local legal systems are ineffective or lacking.

In addition, the traditional Indian-style boarding schools, or gurukulas, that the Krishna established in North America in the 1970's were closed, or transformed into day schools. The only exception is a small boarding school for high school age girls in northern Florida. Day schools, Krishna leaders say, provide greater scope for parental involvement and watchfulness over the children.                                 

Krishna temples are independently incorporated. Most have relatively small congregations and limited resources. The size of the suit is far beyond the financial assets of the Krishna temples named in the suit, according to Dasa.

© Anuttama 12-June-2000

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