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Posted at 5:38 AM ET, 06/16/2010

No charges in case linked to alleged cult

By Mike McPhate

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. He declined to elaborate.

Goldstein was lying in the driveway of the home on a piece of plywood when officers arrived on the evening of June 8, according to the police report. Two women were standing near her, one of whom was later identified as Rivka Roy, 43, the group leader's daughter and a physician.

Roy rode in an ambulance with Goldstein to a hospital and did not say a word the entire time, according to the report. She provided police with Goldstein's name and date of birth and said Goldstein's family lived in Michigan or Ohio, but didn't disclose any further details despite repeated questioning, according to the report. She “became very agitated” and asked repeatedly to speak to a lawyer despite being told she was not under suspicion, the report says.

When officers arrived, they observed someone inside the home and knocked on the door repeatedly, according to the report. About an hour later, a man identified as Manasseh Goldberger emerged, saying he had been afraid to talk to police. He had scratches on his body and was walking with a limp, the report says, and he told police that he and Goldstein were loading items onto a trailer when she fell face-first from a landing one foot off the ground.

The broken slab of granite was found behind the home, covered in blood and surrounded by blood-soaked paper towels, according to the report. A trail of blood was observed between the granite and the spot where Goldstein was found.

Goldberger went back inside the house and remained there for several hours while a SWAT team surrounded it, the report says. After he emerged, he was taken into custody, and he “kept to his original story” about Goldstein falling off the trailer, the report says.

Goldstein underwent surgery, and police interviewed her after she regained consciousness. She confirmed that she had been injured by the slab of granite, calling it an accident. She said she and Goldberger were working on renovations to the home and were moving several pieces of granite when one fell on top of her, the report says.

Roy and Goldberger were released without charges being filed.

-- Associated Press

By Mike McPhate  | June 16, 2010; 5:38 AM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, Maryland  | Tags:  crime, maryland  
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Posted by: liberty886 | June 16, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

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