French police detains Romanian fugitive cult leader Gregorian Bivolaru
French police detained Romanian fugitive Gregorian Bivolaru in Paris, along with 40 other individuals, taking them in for questioning on charges of indoctrinating the female followers of his organization, the Atman Yoga Federation, to sexually exploit them.
Bivolaru, 71, was already convicted to six years in prison in Romania for the sexual assault of a minor and was sought by Interpol for human trafficking.
The former leader of the controversial MISA (Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute) is mentioned as the main suspect in the investigation in France, according to News.ro. He was arrested in a house in Ivry-sur-Seine. 26 women were taken from the house where he lived. They were kept "in cramped and unhygienic conditions." Several of them were under the influence of alcohol, stated a source close to the investigation to AFP.
According to the victims' testimonies, Bivolaru brought his followers to his residence in Val-de-Marne for "sexual initiations" in tantric yoga, which involved awakening spirituality through sexuality, promising the attainment of body and mind ecstasy. One of his main objectives was to condition the victims to accept sexual relationships, convincing them to do so using mental manipulation techniques.
175 police officers from Paris, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne, and Alpes-Maritimes were involved in Gregorian Bivolaru’s apprehending. In total, 41 members of the international sect were arrested, and accused of numerous abuses under the pretext of practicing yoga.
According to Liberation, Bivolaru was already under judicial investigation since July 2023 for "human trafficking," "organized kidnapping," "rape," and "abuse of weakness organized by members of a sect."
Gregorian Bivolaru is on Romania's list of "most wanted persons." According to sources cited by the French press, the MISA movement became Atman when it expanded outside Romania. This sect encouraged female victims "to accept sexual relationships with the group leader" and/or "to engage in pornographic practices for a fee in France and abroad."
(Photo source: Inquam Photos | Octav Ganea)