A senior Hindu missionary from India, whose trips abroad attract hordes of visitors including government ministers, has been charged with raping a young woman at his centre in south Trinidad.
The 85-year-old swami, who is from a prominent Hindu organisation in India, was charged on Sunday evening with raping a 22-year-old woman at his centre in Phillipne, south Trinidad. She had gone to seek spiritual assistance and guidance from the swami when she was raped, according to police officials in the city of San Fernando.
Doctors who examined the woman said she was a virgin.
The swami, whose name is being withheld pending his appearance in a court on Monday, has been visiting this oil-rich republic for several years now. His last visit was in June 2005.
Whenever he comes to Trinidad there is always an avalanche of believers to see him. They think he can cure social, marital and financial problems. His guests have included government ministers, top corporate executives and senior religious leaders.
The incident is likely to cause consternation among the 24 per cent of diehard Hindus, as well as among the non-Hindus and Christians who always revere the spiritual luminaries visiting here.
Out of Trindiad and Tobago's one million population, about 40 per cent is of Indian origin. These include Christians, Hindus and Muslims.
Legal representatives for the swami are calling for a speedy hearing of the case.