Widow of 'cult leader' loses case against NSW Police over his suicide
Sydney Morning Herald
By Georgina Mitchell
June 5, 2020
The co-founder of a Sydney "sect" has lost her court case against NSW Police over an allegation her "cult leader" partner took his own life because officers maliciously sent him a letter which caused psychological harm.
Janice Rita Hamilton, 71, co-founded personal development organisation Kenja with her de facto partner Ken Dyers in 1982. The group has been branded a cult, which its members deny.
clear a spirit from her by touching her while she was naked
In 2007, Mr Dyers was yet to face trial on 22 offences, relating to alleged assaults on two underage girls during Kenja counselling sessions, when a third complainant came forward.
The girl had previously denied being abused, but approached police after she left Kenja. She alleged Mr Dyers told her when she was about 12 or 13 she had "sexual degradation in her energy field" and she would be a "psychic slut" if he did not clear a spirit from her by touching her while she was naked.
took his own life
Police sent a letter to Mr Dyers' lawyer in July 2007 requesting an interview, which was conveyed to him over the phone. The 85-year-old took his own life a short time later.
Ms Hamilton sued the State of NSW in the Supreme Court in 2013, alleging two detectives who investigated Mr Dyers were motivated by malice, did not carry out the investigation impartially, and were guilty of misfeasance in public office.
The claim against one of the officers was abandoned during the case after she gave evidence which showed a "lack of ... knowledge" about the letter.
Ms Hamilton sought aggravated damages and costs for psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing Mr Dyers' suicide.
the court was not satisfied
On Friday, Justice Michael Walton said Ms Hamilton's claim failed because the court was not satisfied "to the requisite standard" that the remaining officer sent the letter "with an intention to cause harm".
Justice Walton said in a lengthy judgment that Ms Hamilton also failed to show that the sending of the letter was the act that caused harm.
Ms Hamilton's lawyer, Harland Koops, said his client was "very disappointed" and was considering the judgment.
The court was told Kenja describes itself as a non-religious personal development organisation that focuses on "energy conversion meditation" and other exercises such as "clowning", which helps actors get in touch with their inner child.
"blaze of publicity"
Ms Hamilton's barrister told a court hearing in 2018 that police did not lay charges against Mr Dyers after an initial investigation, but the investigation was renewed after a "blaze of publicity" in 2005 which referred to Kenja as a "sordid sect" and Mr Dyers as a "cult leader".
At the time, Kenja had hit headlines because of its links to Cornelia Rau, a former Kenja member who was wrongfully held in a prison and immigration detention despite being an Australian citizen. Relatives of Ms Rau, who has schizophrenia, said her mental health began to decline when she joined Kenja in 1998.
"We are not responsible for Cornelia's condition," Ms Hamilton said in 2005.
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