Cult leader dupes Perth families

The West Australian/April 6, 2010

A self-styled New Age cult leader who has been blamed for fracturing Perth families with false claims of sexual abuse is continuing to operate in the Chittering Valley.

"Counsellor" and massage therapist Matthew Meinck, who charges about $1000 for meditation retreats, is believed to have a handful of devoted followers.

For about a year, Perth schoolteacher Britelle Humfrey believed she was the victim of horrific abuse by her father and brothers.

She thought that growing numbers of friends had raped her and eventually that she had become an abuser - and that her memories had been repressed.

The person who unlocked those memories and provided emotional and spiritual guidance was Mr Meinck, whose teachings include that people "split" into conscious and unconscious beings.

Ms Humfrey knows now she was not sexually abused.

She was one of a group of professionals leading otherwise unremarkable lives who were caught up in what they recognise, in hindsight, as a cult.

"I was just completely blind and under his spell," Ms Humfrey said.

This reporter has interviewed about a dozen Perth people who say Mr Meinck's aggressive counselling elicited false claims of abuse.

Ms Humfrey and other former followers are concerned for the welfare of "brainwashed" people who still attend the Chittering Valley retreats, including a child.

But Mr Meinck defends his methods and spoke publicly for the first time on the Four Corners program last night.

He admitted being unqualified but denied his methods were dangerous. "I've got no qualifications whatsoever," he said.

"I always had an aversion to qualifications. I've learnt through my own experiences and through working with thousands of people and getting great success this way … I don't even want to call myself a therapist but really just a human being that understands that pain is a natural part of life."

He denied his therapy resulted in false memories.

"If their parents have got a problem with what they're bringing up, that's their parents' problem," he said.

He said he would like to practise his "counselling" methods with more children.

"Some people have brought their children to see me over the years and I find them a lot easier to heal, a lot easier to help," he said.

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