Hare Krishna. A few weeks ago I heard from this devotee, whom I'm told is friends with the woman who was molested as a child by Vakresvara Pandit. I offered that she could write something and I would put it on my main page. I didn't mean to delay, so I'm putting it up now. What follows is her message. Hare Krishna.

I am completely outraged by this news of Vakresvara Pandit. Two panels of judges at the CPO office have found him guilty of sexual abuse of a minor. Yet for some reason the second panel felt that he suffered sufficiently in their words, "Vakresvara Pandit has already lived with this decision for three years." To be honest with you he never really followed anything set out for him by the first panel of judges. They claim that he only began to follow things a year before this final decision came through but I don't think that is the case either. He was in Gita Nagari with BT Swami, in his final days, leading kirtans and being held as an exalted person. What has been done is an injustice. He has just had a little slap on the hand and now given a cushion to sit on at the next festival. Why does ISKCON keep shooting itself in the foot when it comes to child abuse? Why can't they actually show they have changed and got a backbone now? Why can't they punish the abusers? The only thing his victim wanted was a little justice. She wasn't after money. She didn't join the lawsuit against ISKCON. She just wanted him not to be able to be around other young girls, lead kirtans, give class, or to be able to hold a position of authority. It is too much to ask for him to write a letter to her accepting what he has done and apologise for it? That was the first thing he was meant to do and now Tamohara Das has said,

Yes, I can understand that you would have a mixed reaction to the decision. The sentence is definitely lighter. The requirements to apologize or pay restitution are not called for in the new sentence. Of course, VPd maintains his innocence and he was never likely to either apologize or pay restitution. Of course, the decision was made, not because he won't do it, but rather the decision was somewhat of a compromise, as the judges had different opinions about the case.

Some devotees would have liked to have seen a stronger sentence, but at least we maintained the guilty verdict, and were able to get the restrictions extended another two years."

So now he is pretty much walking away from this foot loose and fancy free. I can't possibly see the reasoning behind the change of mind for the sentencing. How can you say someone did something as horrible as this, where if they were in a real court of law they would be behind bars for the rest of their life, and yet say three years of light punishment (if you could call it that) is enough? These people must not have children of their own. For what kind of a person would let this predator out around you kids? Two of the restrictions laid down by the first panel but not upheld by the second panel states as follows:

7) Vakresvara Pandit dasa must not have ISKCON service, or service with an organization affiliated with ISKCON, that involves connection with adolescent girls, other than his biological children.

10) Vakresvara Pandit should not be alone on ISKCON property with adolescent girls who are not his biological children.

I grew up in ISKCON. I have always thought highly of my religion, but now I am not so sure of the foundation my religion is sitting on. There is all this talk about how the abuse was in the past and now we look after our kids. We are showing everyone we are sorry, by apologising publicly, for what people in leadership positions did in the past…well what about today? Has ISKCON learned anything from the past?

Disheartened Kuli,
Gauranga Lila