Cult strikes back - Kenja critic assault a lie: court told

The Daily Telegraph, Sydney/December 6, 2007

The hierarchy of a Sydney-based cult invented claims of assault against a man because he tried to expose the "perverted and sick" practices of the group's founder, a court has heard.

Michael Pels, 55, claims he tried to alert members of the Kenja organisation in March that his daughter had been sexually molested by the group's co-founder, Ken Dyers, over many years.

But when they failed to take his claims seriously, a bogus assault allegation was levelled at Pels in a bid to discredit him, his barrister alleged this week.

At the time, Dyers, 85, was facing up to 22 charges for sexual assault on girls as young as 12 but was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in July.

One of Kenja's "senior executives" Wendy Tinkler, who has been a cult member for more than 20 years, alleges she was in Pels' kitchen with his ex-wife Marti Pels and another woman when she was attacked.

She claims Pels was violent and screaming obscenities before striking her on the upper arm with a closed fist.

After she fell to the ground, the three women locked themselves in the bathroom of the house because they were "terrified", she said.

But under cross-examination by Pels' barrister Winston Terracini SC, it was revealed the women made dozens of mobile telephone calls around the time of the alleged assault, including numerous calls to Kenja co-founder Jan Hamilton.

Ms Tinkler denied knowing of the communications.

"You and your mates got your heads together to try and bring down Mr Pels, didn't you," Mr Terracini said.

"That's not true," she replied.

Ms Tinkler denied that she would do anything to protect Kenja's reputation, but admitted she had never believed any of the allegations made over many years about Dyers being "a sexual pervert."

During legal argument in the case, Mr Terracini said he would establish that senior members of Kenja had known about the fresh sexual molestation allegations.

"Our case is that once they realised there would be further adverse publicity about [Dyers], within 24 hours we've got an allegation that [Pels and his daughter are] in effect the bad people and we can't believe anything they say," Mr Terracini said.

Mrs Marti Pels gave evidence in support of her friend's claim of the assault, and was supported in court by Ms Hamilton.

However, she conceded that she has no contact with her children any more.

The case will resume early next year.

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