'Violent' teacher still working at temple

Borehamwood & Elstree Times, UK/January 5, 2009

A former religious leader found guilty of beating children continues paid work at a Letchmore Heath temple despite being banned from leadership and teaching roles.

In July, Gauri Das, former president of Bhaktivedanta Manor, in Letchmore Heath, was found responsible for inflicting "inappropriate and excessive corporal punishment" on students between 1991 and 2001.

Victims of the man's abuse have expressed "disgust" at an "insensitive" decision to continue employing him at the Hare Krishna temple.

Following statements given by 17 former students of the Vrndavana Gurukula school in India and three adults, the child protection branch of the International Society for Krishna Conciousness (ISKCON) banned Gauri Das from serving in a position of leadership and giving classes for three years.

Despite this ban, chairman of the temple's management board, Sruiti Dharma, admitted Gauri Das was working on various projects in a part-time role at the temple but did not say what these projects were, how much was being paid or if they were temporary or permanent.

Temple spokesperson Radha Mohan Das added there was "nothing controversial" about the employment and that it was in line with ISKCON's ruling as Gauri Das was not serving as an officer or leader.

Michael Powell, father of one of the students who gave evidence against the former religious teacher, said: "As a father of one of the children involved in the escapades I'm really surprised they've re-employed this guy. A lot of folks will view this decision with disgust.

"They won't reveal what he's doing or how much he is getting paid. They've just moved him to the wings for three years before they can re-instate him. There's certainly something fishy about it and it's not very nice at all."

The Borehamwood resident, who has been a member of the temple for 30 years, said: "He gets three years for child abuse and in three weeks he is re-employed. It beggars belief and is shameful. It doesn't take into consideration the sensitivities of the people involved.

"They advertised him as a spiritual head of the largest Hare Krishna temple in the UK but he's not fit to serve."

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