Health guru on sex assault charges
Sanchez Manning A health guru who claims to be friends with the Dalai Lama is facing a catalogue of rape and indecent assault charges. Michael Lyons, who lived in Scott Ellis Gardens, St John s Wood, before moving to Belsize Park Gardens, is on trial at
A health guru who claims to be friends with the Dalai Lama is facing a catalogue of rape and indecent assault charges.
Michael Lyons, who lived in Scott Ellis Gardens, St John's Wood, before moving to Belsize Park Gardens, is on trial at Wood Green Crown Court this week for raping or sexually assaulting seven women over 10 years. He denies five counts of rape and three counts of sexual assault between 1998 and 2008.
The trial began last Friday and one victim, a 29-year-old woman who met the accused in a health food shop, told how Lyons encouraged her to engage in Chinese breathing exercises in the nude, before raping her.
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On Tuesday, another distraught woman told how her sister was sexually assaulted after being lured by Lyons from her home in California.
Her voice shook with emotion as she described how Lyons, who had set himself up as a health and wellbeing expert, lavished attention on her sister by phone and email and eventually convinced her to join his cult of female followers.
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Suspicious of Lyons' motives, the victim's sister ran an internet search and found information suggesting he was responsible for drugging and raping a number of women.
She told her sister about this discovery but she shrugged off the claims and flew to meet Lyons in Manchester in November 2007.
On her arrival, the victim was made to feel at ease by Lyons and his group, who she praised as being "wonderful women". He then whisked her off to an upmarket store where he "showed off" by spending cash on health foods.
But it was on her return to the flat at Manchester's Lowry Centre after the shopping trip that she realised something was wrong. Hours later, the victim phoned her sister stricken by fear and speaking in hushed tones to avoid detection.
"She was saying, 'I'm so scared. I'm ok but I want to leave and I don't know if they are going to try and stop me'," her sister said.
Asked by defence lawyer Phillip Katz QC what had led to this sudden desire to flee, she said her sister had been assaulted by Lyons.
Feeling jet-lagged and disorientated, she told how her sister had been pressured to sleep in her own room away from the rest of the group.
Shortly after settling down for the night the victim received a visit from Lyons - also known as Mohan Singh - who said he wanted to do some "bodywork" on her.
She refused the offer but he allegedly insisted and proceeded to touch her intimately several times, despite her protestations.
In tears the victim's sister, who travelled from Hawaii to testify, claimed that on hearing of this attack she ordered her sister to call a taxi and leave immediately. "She said 'Ok I'll do that' but she was really scared," the victim's sister said.
"I've heard my sister in pain, I've heard her sad and depressed but I've never heard her as scared as she was - I've never heard that voice before."
An hour later she called her sister back to make sure she had left Lyon's apartment, but unable to contact he, she called Greater Manchester Police to report the incident.
She said officers agreed to launch a search but added that the victim returned her call shortly afterwards to say she had escaped and was staying in a Travelodge.
The trial continues.