by SEAN KIMMONS
The fugitive-nabbing TV show America’s Most Wanted has spotlighted a Hays County guru who vanished after being convicted of child sexual abuse in March.
Prakashanand Saraswati, 82, also known as Shree Swamiji, did not show up to court on March 7, a few days after a Hays County jury found him guilty of 20 charges of sexual indecency with a child.
He was later sentenced to 14 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count, which stem from two former devotees who testified that their breasts were fondled by Swamiji during their stay as young girls at the ashram in the mid-1990s.
On the TV show, Swamiji is showcased on a piece called “BOLO” or be on the look out, where host John Walsh pleas to viewers to help catch the convicted guru.
Walsh also says that “an international manhunt” is underway to capture Swamiji, who U.S. Marshals remain confident is hiding in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. They believe that his handlers are trying to solicit a pilot to fly him to a safe haven in either India or Nepal.
In early April, the Hays County-based Hindu ashram that Swamiji founded began to steer away from its beloved guru by changing its name from Barsana Dham to Radha Madhav Dham, and electing a new board of trustees.
The non-profit ashram also revamped its web site and deleted the profile and any other information regarding Swamiji.
In an April 28 new release, the latest in its public relations campaign, the ashram’s new president Raj Goel said the changes to its board will “strengthen the organization’s governance and propel its future growth.”
Goel continued that the new board will revive the ashram’s educational and charitable mission, and further its spiritual aim in the form of Radha and Krishna, as described in the major ancient Hindu scriptures, such as the Vedas and the Bhagvad Gita.
Former Treasurer Peter Spiegel, who put up bonds worth $11 million for Swamiji, has been nixed from the new board. Spiegel is currently in a legal battle with the Hays County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether he will forfeit the bail.
District Attorney Sherri Tibbe has said that any forfeited bond money will go into the county’s general fund.
The release added that the ashram is a “strong, vibrant, permanent community” that has helped thousands of spiritual seekers since its inception in the early 1990s.
Goel then asked interested parties to visit the site near Driftwood, which is open to the public.
“We warmly invite people everywhere to come and visit Radha Madhav Dham and experience the exceptional spiritual atmosphere of this beautiful 200 acre property,” he said.Email | Print