Universal Medicine founder Serge Isaac Benhayon (right).
Universal Medicine founder Serge Isaac Benhayon (right).

REVEALED: What the jury said about 'socially harmful cult'

A SUPREME Court jury this week handed down its decision that a Far North Coast woman did not defame Universal Medicine leader Serge Benhayon.

The jury found the conduct of Esther Rockett, a former acupuncturist based in Byron Bay, had not defamed Mr Benhayon.

Of 60 imputations Mr Benhayon alleged, 16 were not made out at all, according to a 58-page document containing a host of questions answered by the jury, which has been obtained by The Northern Star.

The jury found of the 44 remaining imputations, all were covered by Ms Rockett's defences of truth or honest opinion, many by both.

The jury found Ms Rockett's actions were not "actuated by malice" and that her conduct was "reasonable in all of the circumstances".

For the bulk of matters, the jury found Ms Rockett presented comments she published as opinion rather than fact, that the material involved was "substantially true" and that Mr Benhayon did not establish in court Ms Rockett's views weren't an honestly held opinion.

This included comments that Mr Benhayon is the leader of a "socially harmful cult", that he has "intentionally indecently touched his client Esther Rockett during a consultation in his treatment room", that he had indecently touched a number of other clients, and "instructed students ... to touch the genitals of victims of sexual assault".

The jury found the same to be the case in relation to statements Mr Behnayon "dishonestly promotes fraudulent ideas of karma for self-gain", that he is "sexually manipulative of his cult followers" and "preys on cancer patients".

Of the 44 imputations made out by Mr Benhayon, 30 were found to stand up to three tests: to be "substantially true", presented as opinion rather than fact and that this opinion was based on "substantially true" material, including:

  • Serge Benhayon had intentionally indecently touched a number of his clients in his treatment room.
  • Serge Benhayon instructed students at Universal Medicine training workshops to touch the genitals of victims of sexual assault.
  • Serge Benhayon has an indecent interest in young girls as young as ten whom he causes to stay at his house unaccompanied.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of a socially harmful cult.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of Universal Medicine, a group which to his knowledge engages in misleading conduct in promoting the healing services it offers.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of Universal Medicine, a group which to his knowledge makes false claims about healing that cause harm to others.
  • Serge Benhayon as the leader of Universal Medicine exploits the followers of that group through his false and harmful teachings.
  • Serge Benhayon is dishonest.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of Universal Medicine, a group which to his knowledge preys on cancer patients.
  • Serge Benhayon engages in inappropriate conduct towards women.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of a socially harmful cult.
  • Serge Benhayon dishonestly promotes fraudulent ideas of karma for self-gain.
  • Serge Benhayon engages in bizarre sexual manipulation to make money for his business.
  • Serge Benhayon is a hypocrite because his Esoteric Healing has death as its goal.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of a socially harmful cult.
  • Serge Benhayon denigrates life and glorifies death.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of a socially harmful cult, which to his knowledge had engaged in dishonest healing practices.
  • Serge Benhayon, the leader of Universal Medicine, had exploited children by having them vouch for Universal Medicine's dishonest healing practices.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of a socially harmful cult.
  • Serge Benhayon is guilty of inappropriate behaviour with children.
  • Serge Benhayon is not a fit person to hold a Working with Children Certificate.
  • Serge Benhayon vilifies people with disabilities.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of a socially harmful cult that is paternalistic to women.
  • Serge Benhayon is sexually manipulative of his cult followers.
  • Serge Benhayon preys on cancer patients.
  • Serge Benhayon is a charlatan who makes fraudulent medical claims.
  • Serge Benhayon was to inherit the bulk of a follower's million-dollar estate as a result of exercising his undue influence on her.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of an exploitative cult.
  • Serge Benhayon makes bogus healing claims.
  • Serge Benhayon is dishonest.

The jury found further imputations to be "substantially true":

  • Serge Benhayon had intentionally indecently touched his client Esther Rockett during a consultation in his treatment room.
  • Serge Benhayon has persuaded followers to shun loved ones who won't join his cult.
  • Serge Benhayon is the leader of a socially dangerous cult.
  • Serge Benhayon has engaged in bullying to stop Esther Rockett exposing that he is guilty of inappropriate behaviour with children.
  • Serge Benhayon exploits cancer patients by targeting them to leave him bequests in their wills.
  • Serge Benhayon swindles cancer patients.
  • Serge Benhayon is engaged in a healing fraud that harms people.
  • Serge Benhayon is guilty of exploitative behaviour.

According to the documents, the jury found Mr Benhayon had not established Ms Rockett did not honestly hold opinions of any of the above imputations.