New Age leader denies she ‘bashed up every single woman’ who worked on her accounts

A former New Age leader has denied needing surgery on her hand because she’d used it repeatedly to bash her followers. A defamation trial in Hobart has now turned to the dark topic of violence.

The Mercury, Australia/October 10, 2023

By Amber Wilson

Former New Age leader Natasha Lakaev has denied bashing her acolytes, belting a four-year-old with a wooden spoon, or pulling one woman’s hair so hard that her face became “misshapen”.

Dr Lakaev now lives in Tasmania’s Huon Valley after running personal development programs in Burringbar, New South Wales, and working as a psychologist near Surfers Paradise and Hobart.

She’s currently suing her former follower, Carli McConkey, for defamation in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, with Ms McConkey representing herself during the lengthy judge-only trial.

On Tuesday, Dr Lakaev denied she needed surgery on her hand because she’d used it repeatedly to assault Ms McConkey and others involved in her organisation, Life Integration Programs – later called Universal Knowledge.

She also denied, under cross-examination from Ms McConkey that she’d “bashed up every single woman” whoever did her accounts.

Dr Lakaev denied she’d thrown one of the members of her group and her toddler down the stairs at her office.

She denied she “proceeded to belt into” Ms McConkey’s four-year-old son with a wooden spoon and a spatula, then encouraged Ms McConkey to do the same.

“That’s untrue,” Dr Lakaev said before Justice Stephen Estcourt.

She told Ms McConkey she was “merging people and dates and times into a new story that did not occur”.

Dr Lakaev also denied assaulting a woman after saying she wore “slutty clothing”, dragged a woman by her hair, pushed a woman’s head into a brick wall, and threw a woman onto the floor, pulling her hair.

“You pulled her hair so hard that her scalp was swollen and her face was misshapen,” Ms McConkey said.

But Dr Lakaev denied this and all the allegations against her, replying “that event did not occur”.

Ms McConkey also said Dr Lakaev beat a woman across the face with a wooden spoon and then tried to push her through a glass window, and also told a man to find some rope and hang it in the shape of a noose, which he did.

Dr Lakaev denied these allegations, and also denied she described herself as a “high angel”.

She has also defended her personal development courses that included a “genital rub exercise” and the watching of soft porn, and defended what an A Current Affair episode in 1998 described as a “psychic horse-betting” scheme, with tips “psychically channelled from the spirit world”.

Dr Lakaev, who now owns Geeveston bed and breakfast The Bears Went Over the Mountain, says Ms McConkey defamed her in comments on her website, in her book The Cult Effect, in newspaper articles reproduced within the book, and via social media posts.

But Ms McConkey stands by everything she has published, arguing all her comments about Dr Lakaev have been true.

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