Boulder, Colorado – Hare Krishna devotees who host a weekly gathering for those interested in Krishna consciousness were horrified to learn that a semi-regular visitor to the gatherings is alleged to have sexually abused an 8-year-old girl. Joseph S. Cardillo, a 47-year-old resident of the nearby town of Niwot, was arrested in his home at the end of October on suspicion of sexual assault on a child by a person in position of trust.
Cardillo was a visitor to an open-house gathering of people interested in the Hare Krishna faith and Bhakti Yoga, held in the apartment of ISKCON devotee Jayasacisuta Dasa. Jayasacisuta believes that Cardillo may have initially met the victim and her mother, who were also visitors to the weekly gatherings, at his home.
“We are deeply saddened and disgusted by this tragic episode,” Jayasacisuta said, “On a personal level, I feel tremendous angst. I knew the little girl; she sometimes played with my fiancee's children. We want to extend our deepest sympathies, concerns, and prayers to the young victim and her family.”
Upon reading of the arrest in the Daily Camera newspaper, Jayasacisuta immediately contacted the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office to offer his assistance in their investigation of the case. He and the other devotees who oversee the outreach efforts in Boulder are working cooperatively with local law enforcement.
At the same time, Jayasacitsuta contacted ISKCON’s Child Protection Office (CPO), and is working with that body to make sure that all of the children in the community are safe and that Cardillo’s interactions with them are thoroughly investigated and addressed.
“Please exercise extreme caution if [Cardillo] should appear at any temple,” CPO Executive Director Tamohara Dasa wrote in an alert sent to North American ISKCON leaders. “It is the determination of the ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection that he should not be allowed at our temples or projects pending the resolution of his case.”
According to Jayasacisuta, Joseph Cardillo first began to attend the open-house gatherings held mainly in his Boulder apartment in early 2005. Since then Cardillo, who also used the name Yamuna Tirtha Dasa, became a semi-regular visitor to these gatherings. Although the Boulder devotees could not verify it, Cardillo claimed to have become a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) at some point in the past. According to the Boulder devotees, however, he did not adhere to any of the personal practices that an initiated Krishna devotee vows to follow and he openly disagreed with some of the principles of the Krishna faith. Cardillo also frequently told guests at the gatherings that he disassociated himself from ISKCON in 1990, and sometimes espoused views that were anathema to Vaisnava belief.
The victim and her mother, whose name cannot be released to protect the victim’s privacy, were also visitors to the Hare Krishna gatherings during the summer of 2006. Although both mother and daughter regularly attended the weekly gatherings, neither fully adopted the Hare Krishna lifestyle or beliefs. According to the Daily Camera article, the mother described herself as a nudist and told authorities that she was aware of Cardillo’s interactions with her daughter – which allegedly included private sleepovers, nudity, and sexual touching – but that she “didn’t think it was a problem.”
The 8-year-old girl has been taken by the Department of Social Services. The Daily Camera article quoted Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Commander Phil West that investigators are considering whether to charge the mother, and that they suspect that she may be mentally ill.
If convicted of felony sex assault, Cardillo could face a possible life prison sentence.
Meanwhile, attendees of the weekly Krishna gatherings are banding together to offer their prayers and help, and to ensure that their tiny community is safe.
“We’re just so shocked and horrified by this news,” Jayasacisuta said. “And we want to see justice done.”
The Daily Camera article can be found here.
ISKCON’s Child Protection Office can be found here.[ child-abuse ] [ child-protection ]