Shanti, whose real name is Ulrich Schultz, 61, abused the children of his devotees over a ten-year period, in Munich and then in Portugal, the court found. It handed him a sentence of six years and 10 months.
Judge Stephan Kirchinger criticised the relationship between the children's parents and Shanti, which he said meant the children found it extremely difficult to tell anyone what was happening.
“There was a kind of dependence between the parents and the accused,” the judge said. He was also critical of the fact that none of the parents voiced any suspicions for such a long time.
The reason for this was to be found in the personal and financial dependency that the parents had on Shanti. He said had this had not been the case, the abuse could hardly have taken place.
Shanti, a new-age musician, founded a commune in a finca in Portugal, where he lived with a group of followers who called him Jesus and Messiah.
Christine Schäfer, prosecutor, said on Friday that Shanti had abused this position, according to a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “You bought these children for yourself,” she said. “They had to be available to you at all times of the day and night.”
Shanti was charged with 314 cases of child sexual abuse against two girls and four boys. But only 76 of these cases could be proven in court and the testimony of the girls was not found to be strong enough for a conviction on their complaints. The children were aged between seven and 13 at the time.
He was isolated from the court in a glass box because of an antibiotic-resistant staph infection. The illness is highly contagious and could cause a life-threatening reaction in other people.