No Charges In Bizarre Injuries At Cult Head’s Home; Questions remain
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Wednesday June 16, 2010
BALTIMORE (AP) ― No charges will be filed in a bizarre happening at the home of a suspected religious cult leader that left an 18-year-old woman with life-threatening injuries, Baltimore County police said Tuesday.
Police have concluded that Carmella Goldstein was hurt when a slab of granite fell on top of her, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press. She suffered a punctured lung and a broken leg, pelvis and ribs, and traumatic injuries to an eye and her genital area, according to the report.
She was injured outside a home in the Baltimore suburb of Pikesville that’s owned by Avraham Cohen, founder of the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology in Shawano, Wis.
Former members have described Cohen’s organization, known as SIST, as a religious cult, saying he wields absolute authority over his followers. Cohen, 70, a native of India, changed his name in 2007 from R.C. Samanta Roy and is also known as Rama Behera.
Goldstein and her associates told police it was accidental, and police don’t have evidence to contradict those claims, police spokesman Lt. Rob McCullough told AP. However, the police report indicates that one of Goldstein’s associates lied to police about how she was injured, saying she had fallen from a trailer a foot off the ground.
Goldstein remains hospitalized in critical condition, McCullough said.
A website linked to SIST describes it as a nonprofit with the goal of establishing an educational center. SIST owns several businesses in Shawano, and the FBI investigated an alleged “hit list” linked to the group that included the names of dozens of local leaders, including the mayor. SIST filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.
Richard J. Wolf, an FBI spokesman in Baltimore, confirmed Tuesday evening that the FBI was again investigating the group.
A police report released Tuesday identifies the victim as Carmella Goldstein. She suffered a damaged pupil, punctured lungs, fractured ribs, a torn cervix, a broken pelvis and a fractured tibia in the incident.
Authorities say Goldstein and witnesses who were at the home were initially uncooperative. They have since told investigators Goldstein was injured when a slab of granite fell on her while they were doing work at the property.
Some, however, have questioned if Goldstein’s injuries are consistent with an accident.
According to a police report, an emergency responder told police the victim’s “injuries appeared to be possibly related to sexual trauma.” A doctor at the hospital where she was treated told police he thought the injuries were a “result of blunt force trauma caused by an unknown object.”
Baltimore County Police say the victim and witnesses are all telling the same story, so their investigation is over.
But many people still have questions about what exactly happened.
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