Lengthy defamation trial waged by ex-New Age leader Natasha Lakaev finally ends in Hobart court

Parading naked on a stage, shooting guns for a world catastrophe, and crawling from a pile of huge black mats: a strange and lengthy defamation trial in Hobart has finally drawn to a close.

The Mercury, Australia/December 13, 2023

By Amber Wilson

A chiropractor claims she was forced to parade naked in front of a former New Age leader who has since moved to Tasmania, and was taught to shoot guns to survive – and kill if necessary – in a “world catastrophe”.

The Queensland woman, giving evidence in the Supreme Court of Tasmania by video link on Tuesday, also said she suffered a miscarriage after an activity in one of Natasha Lakaev’s self-development courses, held in regional New South Wales during the 1990s.

Misha Del Rae was the final witness to give evidence in the long and drawn-out defamation trial waged by Dr Lakaev, who now lives at Geeveston and who claims her former acolyte Carli McConkey defamed her online and in her book, The Cult Effect.

On Monday, Dr Del Rae said Dr Lakaev’s courses were designed to “raise our vibrations”, help participants “become ascended” and “clean out our cellular memory”.

Dr Del Rae said while the courses started out as “light, fluffy, feel-good, have-fun” – they became abusive and that two of her co-participants even died by suicide – with one man taking his life during a course called The Next Evolutionary Step.

“Natasha said his vibration wasn’t high enough to match the planet,” Dr Del Rae told Justice Stephen Estcourt.

The chiropractor said one of Dr Lakaev’s course activities caused her to lose her unborn child.

“They would hold people down and put these huge black mats … on top of a person and people would sit on them,” Dr Del Rae said.

“The person would have to crawl out of these black mats.

“I was pregnant at the time and she (Dr Lakaev) said I had to get under the mats.

“I said ‘I’m...pregnant and I don’t want to have a miscarriage’. She just kept laughing.

“About a month after, I miscarried the baby at 16 weeks.”

Dr Del Rae said during The Final Step course, participants met in Brisbane where Dr Lakaev’s team took away their personal belongings and drove them for hours on a bus with blacked-out windows.

“They took away all our rights, you couldn’t talk, you couldn’t move, you couldn’t go to the toilets,” she said.

“Then we had to line up and give each other genital rubs – because that’s how we got to know each other, they were her words.”

Dr Del Rae said during the course, participants were told to strip naked and walk across a stage so Dr Lakaev and her team could “talk about our bodies” and “inspect us”.

The chiropractor also said participants were forced to smoke a cannabis joint, were forced to watch “unsettling” and “bad porn”, and stand freezing in a lake and under a waterfall.

She said Dr Lakaev “physically battered” participants and had them attend a rifle range to learn how to shoot.

“She wanted to teach everyone to shoot guns to survive when everything goes wrong and the s... hits the fan,” she said.

“(We were told) there’s going to be mass chaos and everyone is going to be crazy, but we’re okay because we’ll be vibrating so high.

“We had to learn how to shoot guns, to kill people to survive and keep our families safe.”

Under cross-examination from Dr Lakaev’s barrister Daniel Zeeman, Dr Del Rae denied watching pornography, taking off her clothes and swimming naked were “a matter of choice”.

The trial has now come to an end, with both sides to prepare written submissions before February next year, with Justice Estcourt to deliver his decision soon after.

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