Ex-New Age leader defends genital-rubbing activity in courses

Genital rubbing, soft porn, a “psychic horse-betting” scheme and red marks on the wrist – allegedly like Jesus Christ. A bizarre defamation trial continues in Hobart.

“It was a fun moment that lasted 30 seconds or a minute,” Natasha Lakaev told the Supreme Court of Tasmania about the “rubbing” on Tuesday.

“It’s not just standing there rubbing people’s genitals.”

Dr Lakaev – who is suing one of her former acolytes for defamation – agreed her course participants could consensually rub the backs and bodies, including the genitals, of the person in front of and behind them.

She agreed the activity was named in the course curriculum as the “genital rub exercise”, but only to serve as a reminder to participants.

Under cross-examination from the woman she is suing, Carli McConkey – who is representing herself during the lengthy trial – Dr Lakaev also agreed “soft pornography” was shown to course participants, but denied showing such content to people under 18, and always asked permission first.

She said her participants were not negatively affected by the porn, but usually made comments like: “I didn’t realise something could be that beautiful, in that fashion”.

Dr Lakaev denied, under cross-examination from Ms McConkey, that anyone had been harmed by “gay, hardcore pornography” with “violence”.

Natasha Lakaev arrives at the Supreme Court of Tasmania, Hobart.

Also on Tuesday, a 1998 episode of A Current Affair – hosted by Ray Martin – was shown to the court.

During an investigation into Dr Lakaev’s former New South Wales organisation, Life Integration Systems, a number of former members told the program they had been abused during its courses.

“I feel like my whole soul has been raped,” one woman told the program.

Another former participant told A Current Affair he’d lost thousands to Dr Lakaev’s courses.

“Over seven days, you’re basically subjected to humiliation,” he said.

“The whole week you’ll survive on five to 20 hours’ sleep, the food is minimal.”

During the program, Dr Lakaev denied her organisation was a “dangerous, money-making cult” with “brutal” courses, and said no-one was forced or conned into taking part.

She also defended what the program described as a “psychic horse-betting” scheme, with tips “psychically channelled from the spirit world” that allegedly cost her acolytes thousands.

A 1998 episode of A Current Affair was played to the Supreme Court of Tasmania, featuring an investigation into Natasha Lakaev’s New South Wales organisation.

In court, Dr Lakaev again defended the “Lightspeed” scheme, which she said wasn’t psychic horse-betting, but based on a “very clever mathematical system” created by a “very intelligent” man, who had since passed away.

She said people only lost money on the scheme when they decided to not follow the system properly.

Dr Lakaev told the court she had saved the life of her terminally-ill baby son by giving him herbal remedies, and that she was a “risk-taker”.

But she denied ever claiming she was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, saying these allegations had come from a “raucous joke” during a 1993 party.

But Ms McConkey suggested Dr Lakaev had not been joking, and had also previously claimed to have red marks on her forehead, wrists and ankles – and had to wear a fringe to cover the marks.

“Yes, that did occur. And that didn’t happen to me because I’m Jesus Christ. That happens to a lot of people, that people get marks on their wrist and forehead,” Dr Lakaev told the court.

“I don’t see how that equates.

“From memory, it was about the chakras.”

Carli McConkey is being sued for defamation by former New Age leader Natasha Lakaev, who now lives in Tasmania.

Dr Lakaev is suing for damages, claiming Ms McConkey defamed her in comments on her website, in her book The Cult Effect, in newspaper articles reproduced within the book, and via social media posts.

She denies all of her former member’s claims, and is also seeking an injunction to prevent Ms McConkey publishing further allegations against her.

Ms McConkey says all her comments have been true and according to her honest opinion, which was “fair and based on proper material”.

Dr Lakaev, who now lives in Geeveston, previously said she moved to Tasmania in a bid to “move away from Ms McConkey’s tentacles”.

The trial, before Justice Stephen Estcourt, continues.

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