AVO for cross-dressing Kenja cult founder Jan Hamilton
The Daily Telegraph
By Kim Arlington
August 27, 2008 11:08am
SHE was born into the Kenja cult and spent the first 20 years of her life as a member. But even after she left last year, accusing founder Ken Dyers of sexual assault, Alison Pels found it difficult to escape Kenja's clutches.
On October 17 last year she turned up at West Pymble Community Hall for what she thought was an audition for Chekhov’s play Three Sisters.
But it was a "hoax audition", arranged by Dyers' widow Jan Hamilton and other Kenja members to intimidate the 21-year-old, Downing Centre Local Court heard yesterday.
Dyers committed suicide last year while awaiting trial on a string of child sex charges. Ms Hamilton blamed his death on Ms Pels and her father, who also left the cult after his daughter raised allegations that Dyer molested her.
The court heard Ms Hamilton, Kenja’s co-founder, dressed as a man with a wig and fake beard at the audition. Other Kenja members used phoney American accents and wore dreadlocked wigs - disguises used in the cult's clowning classes.
Ms Pels, who has given The Daily Telegraph permission to name her, fled in panic and sought an apprehended violence order against Ms Hamilton.
“I remember shaking, I remember vomiting,” she said outside court yesterday.
“My whole body had just shut down.
“I was in fear of my life ... I was absolutely terrified.”
Yesterday Magistrate Roger Clisdell said the hoax audition had "all the hallmarks of the bizarre conduct" he had seen associated with Kenja.
He granted Ms Pels a two-year AVO, ordering Ms Hamilton not to stalk, threaten or contact her.
Ms Pels had reasonable grounds to fear harassment and intimidation by Ms Hamilton or Kenja members, Mr Clisdell said.
He will also refer evidence given by Ms Hamilton and other Kenja members to the Attorney-General for consideration of criminal charges.
A video supposedly made at Ms Hamilton's Surry Hills home on October 17 and tendered as evidence of an alibi was "an attempt to mislead the court and pervert the course of justice", the magistrate said.
The date October 25 appeared at the start of the video, but a Kenja member claimed that was only because it was used later to film "a piece about two stuffed animals talking about fruit".
Outside court Ms Pels said that until the AVO was granted, she felt she would never get away from Kenja.
"They've done so many things wrong in the past and gotten away with it - and this time they haven't," she said.
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