Spiritual healer Serge Benhayon gave client 'ovarian reading'
The Sydney Morning Herald
June 25, 2018
A former bankrupt tennis coach accused of running a cult and financially exploiting his followers has been ordered by a Supreme Court judge to provide tax returns and other financial records including donations and bequests.
Serge Benhayon, 54, who claims he is a reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci and Pythagoras among others, runs a multi-million dollar operation, Universal Medicine clinic, on five acres of land on the outskirts of Lismore in northern NSW.
But those who have left the group tell a different story.
The self-styled spiritual healer who uses a "hands-on complementary healing technique” called “Esoteric Healing” is suing a former client Esther Rockett for defamation.
On her blog site “Universal Medicine Exposed,” Ms Rockett has accused Mr Benhayon of being a sexual predator who has made false claims about his healing abilities, a court has heard.
“a sleazy ovarian reading”
Amongst Ms Rockett’s complaints about Mr Benhayon, according to court documents, is the accusation that, in 2005, he subjected her to “a sleazy ovarian reading” under the guise of “esoteric healing”.
Mr Benhayon says Ms Rockett has defamed him by suggesting he is “delusional, exploitative and dishonest, that he preys on cancer patients, that he dishonestly promotes fraudulent ideas of karma for self-gain”, said Justice Lucy McCallum in a judgment handed down last week.
For her part Ms Rockett has pleaded the defence of truth to almost all of the imputations, noted the judge.
imputations that he is running a cult
Because Mr Benhayon was seeking to vindicate his reputation against imputations that he is running a cult and “exploiting followers financially under the guise of spurious teachings” Justice McCallum ruled that Mr Benhayon had to disclose his tax returns and financial statements.
She also ordered that Mr Benhayon provide details of donations, gifts and bequests of more than $1000.
Ms Rockett has alleged Mr Benhayon used unscientific claims to manipulate followers into making gifts to him instead of their own children.
According to Ms Rockett, Mr Benhayon gave lectures in which he suggested “bequeathing money to a child” could be harmful to the donor in their next life. He is also alleged to have said, “sympathy drains the kidney energy and leaves a harmful pranic [destructive] emanation on the person making the bequest and their loved ones," the court heard.
gave Mr Benhayon $800,000
In 2015, a case came before the NSW Supreme Court challenging the will of one of Mr Benhayon's clients, Judith McIntyre. In May 2014, a month before she died of cancer, Mrs McIntyre gave Mr Benhayon $800,000. Upon her death she left the bulk of her $1.1 million estate to Mr Benhayon. Her two children were unsuccessful in their attempt to challenge her will.
Mr Benhayon has also been ordered to provide any photographs of him performing “hands-on esoteric healing” and any video of a technique called "Deeper Femaleness".
mental illness of psychiatric disorder
Although Mr Benhayon’s barrister Kieran Smark, SC, argued that it was “unnecessary and oppressive” to ask if Mr Benhayon had ever been diagnosed with a mental illness of psychiatric disorder, Justice McCallum ruled said that such a request was relevant to the imputation made by Ms Rockett that he was “delusional”.
Last year, in an unrelated case, Dr Samuel Kim, a thoracic surgeon with ties to Universal Medicine, was found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct for not only referring his patient to “esoteric practitioners, connected to Universal Medicine,” but not disclosing his own connections to the controversial clinic.
His patient told the NSW Medical Professional Standards Committee that she had been charged $70 for an “esoteric lung massage” which involved “stroking my back but no more than that”.
Under the current conditions on his practising certificate, Dr Kim “is not to recommend or refer a patient for complementary therapy or treatment” unless he has approval from an approved thoracic physician.
a three-week hearing in September
Meanwhile, Mr Behayon’s defamation case has been set down for a three-week hearing in September.