Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon at the Supreme Court in Sydney.
Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon at the Supreme Court in Sydney. AAP

Sister says relationship 'broken' after Universal Medicine

By Sam McKeith

THE sister of a Universal Medicine practitioner became "deeply concerned" for her sibling after noticing "strange" changes in her behaviour, the NSW Supreme Court has been told.

Louise Forman, a witness called at the defamation hearing brought by Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon against blogger Esther Rockett, said her relationship with her sister "broke down" after she became involved with the Lismore-based group a decade ago.

Ms Forman, a defence witness, told the four-person jury trial on Monday that her sister became "obsessed about food", lost a lot of weight and "segregated herself away" after attending Universal Medicine workshops and retreats on the North Coast and in Vietnam.

"It became very hard to spend time with her," she said.

Ms Forman said her sister spent thousands of dollars on seven years of Universal Medicine study, despite not attaining any recognised qualifications.

"I was concerned that she was spending a lot of money and not gaining a qualification. It didn't make any sense at all."

Mr Benhayon, a 54-year-old spiritual healer, is suing Ms Rockett, an acupuncturist and one-time Universal Medicine client, for defamation over online claims allegedly painting him as a cult leader and sexual predator.

Ms Rockett is defending the claims at the trial, now in its fourth week, on the basis of truth and honest opinion.

Ms Forman also told the court on Monday she was "horrified" to find her sister had treated her daughter with a Universal Medicine therapy known as "chakra-puncture", using needles.

"That's not on for me, I don't believe in it," Ms Forman said.

She said her sister treated patients suffering from cancer and "aches and pains" and believed a woman's fatal mouth cancer was caused by the woman saying "negative things".

The court also heard evidence that Ms Forman's sister believed people were reincarnated 2000 times and had said that people who were drowning should not be saved.

"That horrified me, for someone to rationalise life in that way," Ms Forman told the court.

Ms Forman's sister, Michelle Crowe, called as a witness in response by plaintiff barrister Kieran Smark, SC, told the court that the relationship with her sibling had always had been "up and down".

"There were quite regular arguments," she said.

Ms Crowe said she had made diet changes on the advice of a naturopath and denied ever saying that people's lives should not be saved because "that's their fate".

"I'm very much about helping people," she told the court.

In cross-examination, she said she did not have the ability to see or feel spirits, but accepted that they were "nine feet tall" and had no feet.

She conceded that her Universal Medicine qualifications were accredited only by the "esoteric practitioners association", a body linked to the Benhayons.

The trial continues before Justice Julia Lonergan.



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