Cult guru who wore flowing robes, drove Bentley and assembled a harem of women in London and Miami is convicted of rape and assault

Daily Mail, UK/July 26, 2010

A cult guru who raped a pretty recruit and sexually assaulted another may have attacked hundreds of women, it has been claimed after he was found guilty of rape.

Jet-setting Michael Lyons, 51, wore flowing robes, drove expensive cars and flew around the world boasting of links to the Dalai Lama. He was captured following a transatlantic operation run jointly by Scotland Yard and the FBI.

Masquerading as spiritual leader Mohan Singh, his victims were convinced he was a healer who could help them. But in fact he was a 'sexual predator' who preyed upon young, often vulnerable women, after using his harem of apparently respectable female devotees to recruit his targets.

He was convicted on Friday at Wood Green Crown Court of raping one woman and of sexually assaulting a second.

A total of 11 women from London, America and New Zealand gave evidence against him.

He was found not guilty of three rapes and one sexual assault, while the jury could not reach a verdict on a further rape allegation and a further allegation of indecent assault, and these will lie on Lyons' file.

Sources said the case, which contained allegations made between 1998 and last year, was merely 'the tip of the iceberg'.

He was convicted of raping a receptionist and aspiring actress in her 30s in June 2002, after a work colleague praised him as 'a spiritual, maybe psychic person'.

She went back to a flat in Belsize Park, north London, where Mohan wafted fumes from a burning frying pan around her and mumbled spiritual mantras before trying to massage her.

She said: 'He manoeuvred my neck and it was so violent I thought he had broken my neck. I was completely stunned.'

He ushered her into his bedroom and raped her despite her pleas for him to stop.

He also assaulted a 43-year old teacher from Sheffield in January 2005 during what she thought was a chiropractic treatment after her lodger, one of Mohan's followers, introduced her to him and she travelled down to London to meet him.

Lyons, dressed in crimson and yellow robes, carried out some neck pulls on her at a spa in west London before she went with him in a Bentley to a flat.

She was then beckoned into a bedroom where he joined her and began massaging her legs before asking her to take her trousers off and assaulting her.

She said: 'He did an incantation from the Sanskrit or it could have been mumbo-jumbo for all I know. I was bewildered and angry.'

A publication of a photograph of Lyons during the trial had triggered more women to come forward and make similar complaints, insiders said.

But a source said: 'This is just the tip of the iceberg. He has been doing this for years. More women have come forward since a photograph was published in the newspaper. That's why he tried to avoid having his photo taken during the trial.'

Lyons' cult was made up of him surrounded by brainwashed women who pandered to his every demand.

A source said: 'It doesn't have a name - it's just him and surrounded by a group of women.'

One victim told how they scurried to follow his orders when he 'clicked his fingers'. But the other women also took on a sinister role, recruiting new members and 'sucking them quickly into the cult atmosphere'.

Targets were quickly separated from 'friends, family and reality', falling for Lyons' charm and charisma amid the apparently comfortable atmosphere created by the group of 'respectable' women.

The women he targeted were articulate and well educated.

Despite appearing to support a simple, spiritual lifestyle, Lyons owned flats in London, Los Angeles and Miami, drove Bentleys and Jaguars.

He and his associates boasted that he treated celebrities while on one occasion a male follower crowed: 'We are very rich, we have lots of boats.'

DS Nick Giles said that Lyons has three main bases - in London, Manchester and Miami - but moves frequently between his followers' addresses.

DS Giles said: 'He doesn't have any address that you can pin him down to. We have liaised with the FBI and they are aware of all this.'

Lyons remains a mysterious figure to police and the Crown Prosecution Service with authorities unsure of exactly when and where he was born - even during the trial. He told his victims he had an Indian mother and was raised in an Ashram, where spiritualists live in peace and tranquility among nature.

Despite the allegations against him, Lyons' power over his disciples continued during the trial with several of his group turning up every day to support their leader.

He wore the same burgundy robes every day and sat calmly in the dock as his victims described their ordeals, while an attractive brunette thought to be a follower sat obediently in court taking a note of the proceedings.

Even though his traumatised victims were forced to relive their ordeals at his hands, Lyons declined to take the stand to give the jury the benefit of his account.

As well as persuading victims from all over the world to give evidence against Lyons, prosecutors called parents of women still apparently in the cult. A distraught British father told how his daughter was brainwashed during her gap year after travelling to India before she was due to begin a PhD.

The case was a retrial following a hung jury last year. This time the jury were out for nearly four weeks before returning their verdicts.

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