ISKCON North American Leadership Council Statement
Date: Sat, May 8, 2021 at 11:30 AM
Subject: Lokanath Swami case to ICPO
Dear North American Devotee Community,
Please accept our respectful obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada
There has been a great deal of recent discussion on the Internet and social media about Lokanath Swami, regarding an incident of sexual abuse of a minor that occurred in the Eastern United States in back in1990. The North American GBC felt that the international GBC Body made a good faith effort at the time to investigate and respond to this case of child sexual abuse and placed some restrictions and mandates in place over his activities. Later, in 1998, when the Child Protection Office (CPO) office was established, the GBC Body felt that since Lokanath Swami had gone through a previous investigation, there was no need for the CPO to reexamine his case. In addition, due to the legal concept of double jeopardy, a person is not “adjudicated” repeatedly for the same offense.
However, in retrospect, the North American ISKCON Leadership Council (composed of NA GBC members and other leaders) now feel that the case needs re-examination because first, the full GBC was not aware of the extent and details of the actual sexual abuse of the eleven year-old girl. Second, we feel that, regardless of double jeopardy, it was a serious procedural error to not have the CPO examine this case. In retrospect, we acknowledge that it would have been best for the case to have been dealt with by the Child Protection Office, which is independent from the GBC and other ISKCON management.
Therefore, the North American* Leadership *Council resolves the following:
- The NAC requested that the Lokanath Swami case be turned over to the International Child Protection Office, which will work cooperatively with the North American Child Protection Office for a resolution that will be binding within ISKCON.
- While the case undergoes further investigation and decision, Lokanath Swami is restricted from coming to North America nor initiating any aspiring disciples based in North America, including online initiations. Lokanatha Swami has agreed to comply with these conditions.
- Further we recommend to the GBC Body and the Executive Committee, that Lokanath Swami be suspended from further initiations globally until his case is resolved by the CPO.
Finally, we apologize for any lack of vigilance or follow through with this case, which did occur in North America. There was undoubtedly great trauma, hurt, and confusion to the young girl and her family, that should never be caused by the actions of a trusted spiritual leader. Over the last 30 years, the ISKCON Society, the world in general, and we as individuals have developed a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the nature of the great harm caused by child abuse. The North American GBC and North American ISKCON Leadership Council members remain committed to the vital cause of child protection and considers child abuse to be Vaishnava aparadha. We will continue to strive to eradicate child abuse from our ISKCON Society.
ISKCON North American Leadership Council
Badrinarayan Swami was not on the calls to discuss the Lokanath Swami case and did not sign the letter. He chose to personally write to Lokanath Swami and urge him to resign.
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