ISKCON Temples File For BANKRUPTCY
Rather than wasting millions of dollars to fight this suit, Chapter 11 reorganization will help ISKCON communities to establish a substantial, yet reasonable, fund to help any young person who may have been abused, said Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON Director of Communications. We want first and foremost to heal our communities and our young people, Dasa said.
Date: February 6, 2002
Contact: Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON Communications International,
David Liberman, Attorney, (310) 277-9288
Sandy Frey, Bankruptcy Counsel, (310) 277-7400
Washington, D.C.-At least a dozen temples, related entities and individuals affiliated with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), better known as the Hare Krishna Movement, will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection later this month.
The Chapter 11 bankruptcy focuses on reorganization rather than liquidation of religious assets. It is being filed to deal with claimants including a $400 million dollar lawsuit against Krishna temples. That suit, first filed in Federal Court in June 2000, alleges children were abused at the religious society’s boarding schools in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The Krishnas prevailed when the suit was dismissed in September 2001, but a similar $400 million suit was later filed in Texas State Court.
The lawsuit, ISKCON leaders say, seeks far more money than the financial value of all the Krishna temples in North America. In essence, the suit threatens to shut down an entire religion.
“Rather than wasting millions of dollars to fight this suit, Chapter 11 reorganization will help ISKCON communities to establish a substantial, yet reasonable, fund to help any young person who may have been abused,” said Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON Director of Communications. “We want first and foremost to heal our communities and our young people,” Dasa said.
Through the reorganization, Krishnas hope to assure that all victims of past abuse-including youth who may have chosen not to join the suit-are compensated according to the severity of their grievance.
“Chapter 11 protection will also assure that innocent families and congregations do not have their places of worship sold out from under them, ” said Dasa. “We believe that innocent people should not be punished for the deeds of individual deviants who acted in total violation of our religious principles and teachings.”
The New York Times reported in 1999 that the Krishnas were “unusually candid” in their efforts to address past abuse. In 1990, ISKCON established policies mandating abuse prevention training and the reporting of any allegations of abuse to government authorities. In 1996, an independent Children of Krishna organization was formed to provide grants for education and training for Krishna youth. In 1998, a professionally staffed Child Protection Office was established to investigate allegations of past abuse, provide grants for Krishna youth who may have been abused, and to assure the ongoing protection of Krishna children.
“Chapter 11 is a further effort to address past problems by creating an orderly and efficient procedure for dealing with and maximizing return to claimants,” said Sandy Frey, Bankruptcy Counsel.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is part of the ancient Vaishnava tradition, a monotheistic faith within Hindu culture. ISKCON was founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who first brought the Krishna tradition from India to the west in 1965. # # #