Guru Prakashanand Saraswati, founder and religious guiding light of Barsana Dham ashram near Austin, was found guilty earlier this month of 20 counts of sexual indecency with children. Three of his former female students accused him of fondling and kissing them when they were all around age 12. This, they were told at the time, was an auspicious honor.
"I was told it was a test and if I failed it I would go to hell," one of the women said in court. Now the 82-year-old Saraswati is trying to sidestep a hell of his own -- 280 years in jail -- by fleeing to Mexico.
Officials say the runaway guru is likely hiding either in Nuevo Laredo, where he is presumed to have crossed the border, or in Monterrey, reported the Austin American-Statesman.
U.S. Marshal Hector Gomez said that the guru is probably trying to hire a pilot to take him to India. The court yanked his passport back in October, but the guru is flanked by plenty of rich followers to vouch for the holiness of his flight.
"There are people that we've talked to who are devoted followers of his and they will sacrifice criminal charges and prosecution to help his flight," Gomez said.
Officials say that capturing Saraswati while he's in Mexico will be a challenge. Once in his homeland, Saraswati may be home free. India can choose whether or not to grant the highly regarded Saraswati's extradition back to the U.S.