A jubilant NSW blogger who successfully defended a defamation lawsuit by a wealthy spiritual healer says the jury validated her criticisms of "this cult and its leader".
"It is vital that Australians are able to exercise their lawful right to raise concerns about people who are preying on some of the most vulnerable member of the community," Esther Mary Rockett said in a statement after a NSW Supreme Court jury found in her favour on Monday.
Former tennis coach Serge Benhayon, who claimed to be the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci, sued the bankrupt ex-acupuncturist over her 2014 blog and tweets.
The four jurors found many of her posts were true, including that he was the leader of a socially harmful cult and had an indecent interest in young girls as young as 10 whom he caused to stay at his house unaccompanied.
Other meanings found to be substantially true were that Mr Benhayon intentionally indecently touched a number of his clients in his treatment room at his "esoteric healing" corporation, Universal Medicine, based near Lismore in northern NSW.
In the statement, Ms Rockett's solicitor Stewart O'Connell said the jury's decision had been "a comprehensive victory against a Goliath organisation by a woman who refused to be bullied".
She said it also was a timely reminder that "we need proper regulation of healthcare providers who take money for worthless services, carry out practices of inappropriate touching and give harmful advice".
Australian Associated Press