Fugitive former Minnesota minister wanted on sex charges reportedly seen in Washington state
A former minister from Minnesota wanted on child molestation charges was reportedly spotted Wednesday in Washington state.
Victor Arden Barnard, 52, was charged in April in State District Court in Pine City, Minn., with 59 counts of criminal sexual conduct. Barnard, who led a cult-like religious sect, is accused of abusing numerous girls and young women who lived apart from their families at the congregation’s compound in northern Pine County.
According to a news release from the Washington State Patrol, a witness reported seeing Barnard leaving a McDonalds restaurant Wednesday in Raymond, in western Washington, heading toward the city of Aberdeen.
The patrol said Barnard was believed to be driving a dark blue Audi two-door with tinted windows and a spoiler, and that he had a female passenger. Additional information placed Barnard in the Raymond and Aberdeen areas for about the previous week, the patrol said.
The Pine County Sheriff's Office began investigating Barnard in 2012. The charges pertain to two young women who reported being abused over a period of several years. But authorities said there probably are more victims.
After charges were filed in Minnesota, the Pine County sheriff issued a nationwide warrant for Barnard, who was last known to be in the Spokane, Wash., area.