Temple leader quits over beating scandal

Letchmore Heath, UK - The president of a Hare Krishna temple in Letchmore Heath has been forced to resign after being found guilty of beating students in India.

Gauri Das, president of Bhaktivedanta Manor, in Hilfield Lane, inflicted "inappropriate and excessive corporal punishment", according to a report published this week.

The abuse occurred during his time teaching at the Vrndavana Gurukula school between 1991 and 2001.

The child protection branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), leading the investigation, refused to reveal the ages of the students involved or the extent of the abuse, but 17 students and three adults have given statements against the temple leader.

Following the findings, Gauri Das has been banned from serving in a position of leadership or teaching in temples for the next three years.

He has also been ordered to pay $3,000 to projects benefiting Hare Krishna children.

The first wave of allegations against Gauri Das was investigated in May 1995 by ISKCON.

At the time, it acknowledged the beatings but said they were not "serious".

After the founding of the organisation’s child protection branch, based in Florida, the investigation into Gauri Das was reopened in 2006, resulting in Monday’s report.

Gauri Das made no comment on the findings but said: "I would like to be with my family and spend some time thinking about this."

ISKCON has said he must write a letter of apology to the abused students "clearly stating his actions and expressing remorse".

After all the requirements are met, he will be permitted to return to a position of leadership.

A Bhaktivedanta Manor representative said: "We regret that Gauri Das will not be able to continue as an officer of our temple, but we also recognise the important need of the child protection office to acknowledge problems in the care of children in the past, and to address those issues.

"We are pleased Gauri Das has indicated he would like to meet with the former students in the hope of further reconciliation."