Self-styled guru 'sexually assaulted woman'

The Independent, UK/May 27, 2010

A self-styled guru accused of being a serial rapist sexually assaulted a woman who had come to him for help, a court heard today.

Michael Lyons, who used the name Mohan Singh, denies touching the woman inappropriately and said he met with the woman to help improve her well-being.

His friend Sophie Reddyhoff said she introduced the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to Lyons because she wanted him to "help her".

Ms Reddyhoff told Wood Green Crown Court in north London that she met Lyons while she was travelling in India.

"From the time I spent in his company it became clear that he had expertise in body, nutrition, health and well-being," she said.

Ms Reddyhoff, who went abroad after she completed her degree to pursue her interest in spiritualism, said upon her return she moved to Sheffield to start a PhD. She moved into a house with a woman in her 40s.

"(The woman) was very angry and very unhappy," said Ms Reddyhoff, a music promoter from London.

"She made it very clear that she was unhappy and I wanted to do something to help and I begged Mohan to see this woman.

"I told her how he had helped me in my life.

"Mohan will see anyone who wants his help, he is very compassionate, he does not think about himself. If he sees someone suffering then he will help."

The court heard that in January 2005 the two women met with Lyons, who was sometimes known as Dr Mohan, at a health club in High Street Kensington, London.

Ms Reddyhoff said that afterwards she joined others at a flat to watch a film and she invited the other women to join the group.

At the flat Lyons and the woman were alone together in a bedroom which had a curtain instead of a door.

Ms Reddyhoff said she could not see them but heard the pair jovially arguing.

"They can't have been in there for more than five to seven minutes," she said.

"He was challenging her on why she was so aggressive and why she was carrying herself like a man and she was arguing against that. They came out (of the room) laughing."

She told jurors that the woman seemed "relaxed and happy" and left the flat an hour later.

Ms Reddyhoff said her friend did not tell her about any untoward incident which may have happened in the bedroom.

She said: "First of all I would never invite someone somewhere to be raped or assaulted or anything like that.

"Secondly I know Mo and he would never do anything like that and finally there was nothing in her behaviour that evening that would suggest anything untoward had happened. She seems very relaxed, very happy.

"I can say categorically that no-one was raped and no-one was molested."

Ms Reddyhoff said her parents planted an idea in the head of the woman.

She said they "polluted" her mind because they were angry that she had changed when she got back from her travels in India.

"They just found a scapegoat in Mo because they had been angry that my interests and attitudes had changed since I came back from India.

"They were convinced I was in some cult with some scary leader which was very far from the truth.

"They somehow managed to get the idea that Mohan had raped me.

"It is a preposterous allegation and they were suggesting that he was messing around with people, which is very nasty because it is totally untrue.

"They have been telling my entire family all sorts of nasty things, they I was in a nasty cult which rapes people."

Lyons, 52, from Brondesbury Park in Kilburn, north London, denies five counts of rape, two of sexual assault by touching and one by penetration on seven women between 1998 and 2008.

It is claimed that he attacked six of his victims in London and one in Manchester.

Lyons has declined to give evidence in the trial, which will resume tomorrow.

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