Kiwis in weird cult case

The New Zealand Herald/August 1, 2010

A Kiwi woman has told of her bizarre experience with a UK cult "guru" jailed this week for rape, detailing how he danced around her bed and "enlightened" her during an alleged sexual assault.

Michael Lyons, also known as Mohan Singh, was jailed for 10 years after raping and sexually assaulting two female "recruits" between 1998 and 2008.

The 52-year-old London man was acquitted of three further charges of rape, one involving the 23-year-old New Zealand woman on her OE in 2005.

She has written of her experience on a website for the Rick Ross Institute, an organisation which tracks and studies cults.

A second New Zealand woman also complained to police about Lyons. He was not charged in relation to the complaint but the woman gave evidence at his trial.

UK police said Lyons operated as a "spiritual group leader" purporting to be a naturopath, skilled in osteopathy, acupuncture and nutrition.

His followers were mainly women who supported his lavish lifestyle, which included jet-setting between London, Paris, India and Miami, driving luxury cars and wearing flowing robes. CCID: 16375

"He was introduced to potential new members through his followers," said Detective Sergeant Nick Giles from Scotland Yard. "Lyons used a programme of sleep deprivation, psychological harassment as well as group social pressure to coerce them to join. He sexually assaulted victims during this process."

The 23-year-old Kiwi said a friend she made shortly after moving to London introduced her to Lyons because she was "a bit down and lonely".

"She then said she knew a man who could help with positive energy and osteopathy," she wrote.

"Within half an hour Mohan arrived in a really nice car ... I remember seeing flashy sunglasses and a watch."

She said Lyons gave her "a lot of water with vitamins" and bought her a gown from a store that sold ethnic clothing before inviting her for dinner.

The group ate and danced and Lyons went around the room "treating" people by stretching their backs.

The 23-year-old New Zealander was then taken to another house and told to meditate before Lyons asked her to have a shower.

He got in the shower with her, and started massaging her with soap. She wrote she felt dizzy and Lyons asked her to lie on a bed. She said she was so dizzy she lay down. He started rubbing oil on her and allegedly started having sex with her.

"I was confused. He would get up and run around telling me I was a sexual goddess, and he was enlightening me. I told him to stop and eventually I started to cry.

"He told me I was crying because I wouldn't embrace love or my femininity. He said he would keep going to fix it, telling me his penis was organic and enlightening.

"Out in the hallway the others were waiting, telling me I looked great and full of life. I felt terrible and confused."

The 23-year-old said she was given "natural homemade pills".

"All I wanted was to go home, no one would take me and I wasn't sure where I was ... I was woken up the next morning ... I asked to go home but they said they had more planned for me."

The woman texted her boyfriend, who told her to get out.

After she left the 23-year-old felt "riddled with paranoia" and soon returned to New Zealand.

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