Social worker had faced child abuse charges in 2002

The Times of India/March 19, 2008

Chennai - Thomas Rapanos Wayne, alias Tattva Darshan Das who runs a NGO in Karnataka was arrested Phnom Penh for sexually abusing two girls aged 12 and 14.

The age of sexual consent in Cambodia is 15 years. "We arrested Wayne and rescued the girls. The 12-year-old girl is a Vietnamese and the other is Cambodian," Keo They, deputy police chief of the anti-trafficking and juvenile unit said.

The Cambodian police said one of the girls was naked when they stormed the guesthouse. The girls were being forced to perform oral sex on Wayne, who was trying to put on a condom when police broke open the door.Action Pour Les Enfants , a French NGO working for child welfare, said it had been tracking Wayne's activities in Cambodia for the months and had tipped off the Cambodian police.

Wayne had travelled to Cambodia in April 2006 to set up a BEV unit. His website says he approached the Royal Government of Cambodia to register BEV as an NGO to provide humanitarian aid to street children and poor farmers.

Wayne had adopted Tattva Darshan Das as his name in the 1970s after joining the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) in the US. He came to India in the 80s and founded the Bhaktivedanta Eco Village in 1992; he has since renewed his visa to extend his stay in India.

His wife, a refugee from Myanmar, is named Judni Lakshmi and manages the village along with Wayne and their children Chaithanya (23) and Anuradha (21).

Confirming the arrest, Chaithanya, who now manages the NGO, told TOI that his father was framed by his enemies and that he would be going to Cambodia to hire a lawyer to bail him out.

Wayne has been in trouble with the Indian authorities in the past. By Chaithanya's own admission, Wayne was detained for questioning by the police seven years ago after a complaint of child sex abuse from an Iskcon devotee.

"It was a baseless allegation for which my father was questioned and nothing came of it," Chaithanya said. However, Hari Sauri Das, head of Iskcon's Child Protection Team, said, "Wayne had been removed from all official positions at Iskcon following similar child abuse charges in 2002."

According to his website, Wayne has been travelling extensively. The president of the French NGO tracking him said, "We found Wayne's movements suspicious and our interactions with children whom Wayne had been in touch with, added to our doubt."

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