NOTE FROM PERRY BULWER: I have removed two news article from this archive. The following news article explains why, for the first time since I started this archive, I removed those two articles. The other retracted article was on this page:
Natasha Lakaev's evidence 'deliberately untrue', says judge
by Michael Bachelard Sydney Morning Herald October 13, 2014
Four years ago I wrote a story in The Sunday Age about a brave young woman who had been trapped in a small, northern-NSW new-age cult for 12 years.
She'd lost that portion of her life, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars, both buying useless courses and in direct payments to the cult leader, Natasha Lakaev.
She'd been hit, dominated, humiliated, worked without pay for up to 22 hours a day and, when I spoke to her, was still frightened that the end of the world was nigh. She'd had her tubes tied because she believed what Lakaev had told her: that she was a "human f--k up" who could not properly look after her three children. She grieved over the daughter she'd never have.
But, unlike most victims of cults, this young woman - I will not name her because she has been through enough already - was courageous enough to want to tell all this to the world. She wanted to warn others about Lakaev, and to say out loud that she was no longer afraid of her.
I had written already about the Exclusive Brethren so had some knowledge of the subject, and wanted to help her do this. I also wanted to use her case to explain to my readers how cults recruit the young, the clever, the searching, and then proceed to grind them down.
In the research for the story, I found out that Lakaev was working as a registered psychologist for a Queensland government health centre on the Gold Coast, looking after patients she herself had described as vulnerable. I wrote about that, too.
I also found out she was litigious and had sued former cult members for allegedly writing about her on internet forums after she had legally forced a website to reveal the identities of its users. She had also sued A Current Affair for an earlier story. The result was that many adverse stories about her were not available.
She sent a warning letter to Google trying to have adverse mentions of her removed. She was adept, in other words, at cleansing her online image.
You cannot read my stories online any more either. Fairfax Media has removed them as part of a legal settlement with Lakaev reached in the early hours of Wednesday morning that ends the four-year defamation case she launched against Fairfax as well as News Limited - which wrote wrote a follow-up story to mine - me personally and two of the people quoted in the stories.
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