Hays County fugitive to be featured on 'The Hunt'

Spiritual leader, convicted child molester presumed to have fled to India


SAN ANTONIO – A Hays County fugitive convicted of nearly two dozen counts of child molestation will be featured on Sunday evening's broadcast of CNN's "The Hunt."

The show features John Walsh, crime victims' activist and spokesman for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, also known to his spiritual followers as Swamiji, failed to appear in court on March 7, 2011, and has not been seen since.

The court date stems from a 2007 incident in which three female victims of Barsana Dham, an ashram in northern Hays County, made an outcry to the Hays County Sheriff's Office, alleging they had been abused in the ashram at the hands of Saraswati.

In April 2008, a warrant was secured, and Saraswati was arrested, U.S. Marshals said. He was released on $1 million bond and was barred from the ashram as a bond condition.

In 2011, Saraswati was convicted by a jury on 20 counts of child molestation and was allowed to remain on bond pending the sentencing phase of the criminal trial process.  The punishment phase continued as scheduled, and the Hays County Jury sentenced Saraswati in absentia to 280 years and a $200,000 fine. 

When Saraswati did not show up for his court date, the Lone Star Fugitive Task force initiated an investigation to find him. They believe with the aid of his close handlers and devotees, Saraswati had crossed over the border into Mexico and fled to India, where it would likely be more difficult to get a high-profile criminal extradited to the United States.

Anyone with any information on this case is urged to call 1-866-THE-HUNT (1-866-843-4868).

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