Leaders of a sect responsible for the Western world’s first bioterrorism attack have secretly recruited a workforce for a South Pacific island health resort.
People who signed up to “work and live in paradise” were not told their recruitment was organised by a senior member of the Orange People sect, known also as the Sanyassins.
Byron Bay Sanyassin Deborah Stone has recruited staff for the Anunda Healing Resort, but when contacted by The Australian, said the plan had been scrapped. “It was a beautiful idea but it won’t happen,” she said.
But two people accepted to work on the island said they had recently been told the project was proceeding.
Ms Stone denied the project was organised by her sect. “I am just the middle person,” she said. She declined to identify its backers or the island’s location.
Ms Stone, a director of the Osho Mevlana Foundation, runs Osho’s House Healing Centre in Byron Bay under her Sanyassin name, Santoshi.
Applicants for resort jobs were told they would live on an ocean liner before being transferred to the island.
In the 1980s, the sect, led by Bhagwan Rajneesh, took over the town of Antelope in Oregon, but the commune came to an end in 1985, the year after some followers launched a bioterrorism attack on the nearby town of The Dalles, using salmonella in a bid to prevent citizens voting in council elections.
Many leading Sanyassins who lived in Antelope, including Ms Stone, have resettled in and around Byron Bay.
Storm Marchant said he had attended several interview sessions organised by Ms Stone before deciding not to go to the island. He became suspicious because of the similarities between how it would be run and what he knew about the Sanyassins’ Antelope community.
“The island was going to have its own police and its own laws,” Mr Marchant said. “We were told we didn’t need to bring a thing. Absolutely everything would be provided.”