Teens Visit Hindu Temple They Vandalized, and Find Forgiveness

August 27, 2006

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press


On August 27, 2006 the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported, "After confessing to destroying religious artifacts at a Hindu temple in Maple Grove in April, Tyler W. Tuomie and Paul G. Spakousky were back at the temple Saturday to ask for forgiveness.

They were greeted with hugs, an offer of a home-cooked Indian dinner and a lesson in Hindu values and principles like karma, self-control and nonviolence.

Tuomie, 19, of Andover, and Spakousky, 20, of Maple Grove, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree damage of property of the Hindu Temple of Minnesota. The vandalism included kicked-in temple doors, smashed windows and destroyed marble and granite figures representing Hindu deities.

As part of their plea agreement, Tuomie and Spakousky are expected to receive 30 to 60 days in jail and five years of probation and be ordered to pay restitution of up to $96,454 when they are sentenced Sept. 14.

They also agreed to attend Saturday's meeting with community representatives at the temple to learn about Hinduism.

When Tuomie, Spakousky and their parents showed up the temple's auditorium, Dr. Shashikant Sane, chairman of the temple's executive council, tried to put the young men at ease, stressing that the meeting wasn't intended to shame or humiliate them.

About 50 members of the temple community attended, as opposed to as many as 1,000 who might attend a regular temple meeting. Sane said he thought Tuomie and Spakousky would be uncomfortable facing a larger audience.

'They are suffering as much if not more than we are suffering,' Sane said.

'As long as a few people from my community know how sorry you are, the purpose will be served,' Sane said to the two men. 'Your presence here will allow my community, the Hindu Temple of Minnesota, to close a very painful chapter in our history. So thank you.'"