National

Sued woman explains Rolf Harris comment

By AAP Newswire

A woman being sued for defamation by a NSW spiritual healer has told a jury she linked his organisation to convicted sex offender Rolf Harris to illustrate the point that victims could take decades to come forward

Former acupuncturist Esther Mary Rockett is being sued by former tennis coach Serge Isaac Benhayon over a November 2014 posting on her Universal Medicine Exposed blog, comments related to it and tweets.

The founder of Universal Medicine, near Lismore in northern NSW, says he was portrayed as delusional, dishonest, a sexual predator and the leader of a "socially harmful cult".

His barrister, Kieran Smark SC, previously told the jury that to bring up the name of Rolf Harris on her blog "to the ordinary reasonable reader was to raise certain matters" related to victims of inappropriate touching.

Continuing her evidence in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday, Ms Rockett was asked by her barrister, Tom Molomby SC, about her blog quote: "Rolf Harris had no victims either."

She said the Universal Medicine website authors were very emphatic and definitive in their statement that "there are no victims of Universal Medicine" which she said clearly was an invalid argument.

There were lots of reasons why victims did not come forward or took a long time to come forward, Ms Rockett said.

"To say there are no victims, there is no way they can know that."

Rolf Harris was a topical event at the time, having been convicted earlier that year of historical sex offences, she said.

"It was something the general public knew about and it was a perfect illustration of the way victims behave" - with some waiting decades to come forward.

Ms Rockett was asked about her references to the UM Facts site and how "critical comments, corrections and questions are prohibited".

Mr Molomby asked what she meant when she wrote: "It's all exuberantly, unquestionably and disturbingly cultish".

"Cultish" was about a kind of group behaviour that was more than defensive and had a kind of hostility to outsider, she said.

She referred to the building up of Serge Benhayon as "this leadership figure, yet there is a kind of irrational basis for the whole thing".

"He doesn't answer questions ... and their own behaviour is incredibly irrational. To me that is very cultish."

Ms Rockett is yet to be cross-examined.