Serge Benhayon not a 'charlatan', court told
By Sam McKeith
UNIVERSAL Medicine founder Serge Benhayon is "not a fraud" but sincerely believes his teachings and does not make medical claims, a court has been told.
The defamation trial brought by Mr Benhayon against blogger Esther Rockett was also told on Thursday that the Lismore-based healer was "not a charlatan".
In his closing argument, Mr Benhayon's barrister, Kieran Smark, SC, said the healer "was not making medical claims" and that everything connected back to his "fundamental teaching" about energy.
"He's not a fraud because he believes it," Mr Smark said, pointing to his "sincerity of belief".
Mr Behayon, 54, is suing Ms Rockett, a former Universal Medicine client, for defamation over several online claims, including that he is a cult leader.
Ms Rockett, an acupuncturist, has been defending the claims at the four-person jury trial in Sydney on bases including honest opinion and truth.
In closing, Mr Smark also urged the jury to find that Mr Benhayon had not "engaged in bullying" in relation to a website linked to Universal Medicine.
While Mr Benhayon was the registrant of the "facts about Universal Medicine" website, "that was the limit of it", he said.
"On the evidence that wasn't a website Mr Benhayon had control over."
Mr Smark also said there was nothing in the evidence to suggest Mr Benhayon was "not a fit person" to hold a working with children certificate.
He pointed out that children were not barred from being in "houses of worship", despite "adult themes" being present in books like the Bible and Koran.
"That's not the way we approach religion in our society," Mr Smark told the NSW Supreme Court.
He defended Universal Medicine receiving donations from the sick, saying that the group did not "prey on" cancer patients.
"Quite the reverse," he said, it "gives hope".
"It's no different to any other charitable bequest."
Later, the barrister addressed Ms Rockett's claim that the healer performed a "sleazy ovarian reading" on her during a consult in 2005.
"She doesn't set out what happened to her there," he said.
On Wednesday, the court heard argument that Universal Medicine fell "far short" of what constituted a "socially harmful cult" and that Mr Benhayon operated in the domain of spiritual knowledge.
Mr Benhayon, a former tennis coach, has previously told the trial he felt "raped" by the accusations made against him by Ms Rockett on a blog and in tweets.
The trial continues before Justice Julia Lonergan.