Disabled jibe 'appalling': Former mayor slams UM 'healer'
A FORMER Lismore mayor has spoken out against comments a Northern Rivers 'esoteric healer' made about people with disabilities.
The comments came to light during a Supreme Court case involving blogger Esther Rockett, who was being sued for defamation by Goonellabah-based Universal Medicine leader, Serge Benhayon.
When the jury returned its verdict on October 15, it found the defamatory imputation that "Serge Benhayon vilifies people with disabilities" to be covered by Ms Rockett's defences of truth and honest opinion.
The majority of Ms Rockett's comments were also covered by these defences.
During the trial - which took place before Justice Julia Lonergan - the court heard Mr Benhayon had told his students people who abused their authority, such as dictators and corrupt politicians, were reincarnated as children with disabilities.
The jury also found Universal Medicine was a "socially harmful cult".
Former Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell worked as a teacher for 45 years.
Much of that time was spent with students who had physical or intellectual disabilities.
Ms Dowell has criticised Mr Benhayon's comments, which he admitted in court was not supported by medical science.
"I felt that was an appalling comment for him to make and it should be called out," Ms Dowell said.
She said news of these teachings would have been deeply insulting to those with disabilities, and their families.
"I think they would be offended and upset," she said.
Ms Dowell said she raised these concerns in relation to Mr Benhayon as an individual.
But over the years she has fielded many enquiries about Universal Medicine.
"People in our community have approached me with their concerns about Universal Medicine and its influence on this community," she said.
"I am concerned about the reputation of Lismore and Goonellabah as being the centre for UM," she said.
"I'm concerned about our reputation as a city."