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This was clearly a victory for religious freedom. The plaintiff’s attorney disingenuously sought to apply the RICO act in a attempt to go after the assets of innocent people and temple congregations.
attorney for ISKCON
against Hare Krishna
from ISKCON Communications
Dallas, Texas—The Honorable Sam A. Lindsay, Judge of the United States District Court in Dallas, in a decision filed September 28, has permanently dismissed a lawsuit seeking $400 million dollars in damages from several dozen temples, entities and individuals affiliated with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), better known as the Hare Krishna movement, a monotheistic Vaishnava denomination within the Hindu tradition.
The suit was originally filed on June 12, 2000. It alleged that various forms of child abuse occurred in the 1970’s and 1980’s at several parochial schools and temples affiliated with ISKCON. The case attempted to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to corral allegations of abuse at several schools into one Federal case.
"This was clearly a victory for religious freedom," said David Liberman, one of the attorneys for ISKCON defendants. "The plaintiff’s attorney disingenuously sought to apply the RICO act in a attempt to go after the assets of innocent people and temple congregations. This effort would have opened the door for churches and religious institutions across the country to be attacked in a way never intended by the Congressional authors of the RICO law."
Significantly, many respected faiths and religious organizations including the National Council of Churches, the United States Catholic Conference, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, and the American Jewish Congress filed an Amicus Curiae brief, or Friends of the Court document, in support of the Krishna position on the RICO claim.
Krishna leaders assert that the suit sought to close temples and seize their assets, instead of pursuing and punishing those deviant individuals who may have been abusive of children.
"We are greatly pleased and relieved by Judge Lindsay’s decision on this case," said Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON Director of Communications. "The decision will protect innocent families whose temples were threatened with closure by this overreaching suit. At the same time, we remain committed to assure the safety of our children and will continue to reach out proactively to help any young person who may have suffered in the past," Dasa said.
ISKCON policies mandate immediate reporting of any allegations of abuse to government authorities. An independent organization, Children of Krishna, was formed in 1996 to provide grants for education and counseling for Krishna youth. In 1998, a professionally staffed Child Protection Office (CPO) was established to investigate all allegations of abuse, to provide assistance for youth, and to assure that Krishna communities comply with requirements for child safety and abuse prevention.
CHAKRA 3 October 2001
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