|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
US allows Indian priest to leave on $10 million guarantee
May 20, 2008 15:18 IST
A Hindu priest, arrested three weeks ago on charges of groping two children, has been permitted to visit India after a follower agreed to put up a whopping US$ 10-million guarantee that he would return to the United States.
Prakashanand Saraswati, 79, founder of the Barsana Dham Centre in north Hays County in Texas-- one of the biggest Hindu temples in the US -- was released on a US$ one million bail by District Judge Bill Henry in April.
Saraswati was indicted on 20 counts of indecency between 1993 and 1996. He was arrested on April 24 at the Washington Dulles International Airport, after he arrived on a flight from Europe, where he had been receiving treatment.
In an arrangement described as 'unusual' by legal experts, Peter Spiegel, an entrepreneur listed as a managing member, director and treasurer of JKP, Barsana Dham, the corporate name of the temple founded by Saraswati, agreed to pay the massive guarantee money, in an arrangement approved by State District Court Judge Charles Ramsay, the American Statesman reported on its website.
Saraswati retrieved his passport late last week, according to Hays County court records. A spokesman for Barsana Dham said that the priest intends to visit India soon.
District Attorney Sherri Tibbe said that her office argued against permitting the priest to leave the country.
"We oppose anybody, who's out on a felony bond, leaving the country," she said.
According to other provisions of the release, Saraswati was prohibited from entering Barsana Dham property at any time, as the offences allegedly occurred there.
Barsana Dham owns more than 200 acres of land and its 35,000-square-foot temple, opened in 1995, attracts hundreds of worshippers every Sunday.