Former cult member takes leader to court

ABC News Online/July 16, 2004

A former member of a well-publicised Victorian religious cult has launched a lawsuit, claiming long-term psychological injuries from her treatment in the sect.

Anne Hamilton-Byrne was the leader of a religious cult called the "The Family" which was known for its bleached-blonde haired children.

It attracted attention in 1987 when police raided a property at Lake Eildon and removed a number of youths, including Anouree Crawford.

Ms Crawford, 34, is suing Ms Hamilton-Byrne in the Victorian Supreme Court, alleging she was denied adequate food, education and socialisation.

The Statement of Claim alleges she was subjected to severe punishment and assaults, including having her head held in a bucket of water.

Ms Crawford says she has developed a severe psychological disorder.

"The abuse was emotional, physical, sexual and psychological. I'm not discounting any of them," she said.

Ms Hamilton-Byrne has yet to file a defence to the claim.

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