Kidnapping investigation in Germany leads to discovery of suspected cult

The entrance to the complex where the raids took place. [Image credit: Piroschka van de Wouw ANP]

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According to reports out of Germany, police conducted a raid on Wednesday, October 21 on a former monastery in Goch, not far from the Netherlands border.  During the several hour raid, no injuries were reported and a 25-year-old Netherlands woman that prosecutors state was being held against her will was recovered.

 

The owner of the property, Camiel Engelen states that the woman was not being held against her will but rather, was an employee and had her own residence within the compound.  De Telegraaf alleges that the woman was actually carried from the property "kicking and screaming."

 

Police state that there were 54 people found to be living at the property including 10 children, who appeared to be members of the Orde der Transformanten (Order of Transformants).

 

According to DutchNews.nl, the Order is described as a "religious movement founded by a group of dissident Protestants and Catholics in Brabant in 2003."  The charismatic leader of the movement was reportedly once a personal coach that developed his own methods of self improvement who then formed the movement to oppose the "make-believe world" around them.

The movement is described as primarily appealing to "highly educated people" who worked together to create their own world with their own rules.

 

A 58-year-old self-described "prophet" was taken into custody by authorities.  While some news sites are reporting that the man arrested is the leader of the cult, Robert Baart, neither the police nor Engelen have confirmed the man's identity.

 

Baart is allegedly suspected in 10 cases of sexual abuse of children in Hoeven, two rapes in Goch, physical injury of a cult member, and deprivation of liberty.

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