Hare Krishna plan OK'd by U.S. court

Associated Press/May 24, 2005

A federal bankruptcy court on Monday approved a reorganization plan that will allow six California-based Hare Krishna temples and their affiliates to remain open while compensating members who claim they were abused at the society's schools.

The plan includes $9.5 million for alleged victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse during the 1970s and 1980s at religious boarding schools run by the Hare Krishnas.

A similar reorganization plan was approved May 16 in West Virginia, where temples also filed for bankruptcy. The monotheistic tradition, also known as the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, was founded in 1966 by an Indian scholar.

Ninety-two people sued the Hare Krishnas in 2000 in U.S. District Court in Dallas, alleging they had been sexually, physically and emotionally abused at Krishna boarding schools in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the United States, schools were in Los Angeles and Three Rivers, Calif., Moundsville, W. Va., and Dallas. Other boarding schools were in India.

The federal suit was dismissed in 2001, but the plaintiffs refiled in Texas state court.

The Hare Krishnas filed for bankruptcy in February 2002 before the case went to trial.

The society has since located more than 350 more people worldwide who claim they were abused at the schools, known as ashram-based gurukulas. These people will also receive a piece of the compensation fund, said Anuttama Dasa, the Washington, D.C.-based spokesman for the religious society.

"We knew there were more kids who were mistreated or abused and we wanted to try to include them in the settlement," Dasa said.

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