An Indian spiritual guru who claims to have millions of followers has been found guilty of raping a 16-year-old devotee in 2013.
Asaram Bapu faces a maximum sentence of life in prison in the latest in a series of high-profile rape cases in India, which have fuelled public protests and raised questions bout how police handle the cases and treat the victims.
The verdict against the 77-year-old self-styled “godman” was read out inside a prison in the city of Jodhpur, in Rajasthan state, because of fears his followers may resort to violence.
In August last year, another flamboyant and controversial Indian spiritual guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of raping two followers.
His supporters went on a deadly rampage in response, killing at least 38 and injuring more than 200 during protests in Haryana state.
Judge Madhusudhan Sharma will announce the prison term for Bapu later after hearing arguments from the prosecution and his lawyers.
Bapu has denied the rape and can appeal against his conviction in a higher court.
In her complaint to the police in 2013, the girl accused Bapu of raping her when she visited his Jodhpur retreat with her mother.
The girl’s family said they had been followers of Bapu for more than a decade.
The guru has been in prison since his arrest in the case in 2013.
On Wednesday, security was tight around the prison complex and in states where Bapu has a considerable following.
He is also on trial along with his son, Narayan Sai, in a separate rape case where two sisters have accused the two men of sexual assault.