Read Update, October 12, 2014
A woman accused of leading a cult that has damaged the lives of scores of people is working as a psychologist with vulnerable patients at a community mental health service in Queensland.
Natasha Lakaev’s Universal Knowledge organisation was offering courses until last year that prophesied the world would end in December 2012 and almost everyone except her devotees would die.
A former member of her inner circle, Carli McConkey, has told The Sunday Age that Ms Lakaev was physically violent and psychologically manipulative, and had persuaded her followers that she was the Queen of Atlantis, a reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and one of 12 members of the Intergalactic Council of the Universe.
Ms Lakaev is now working as a government-employed psychologist at the Ashmore Community Mental Health Service near Surfers Paradise.
However, after The Sunday Age raised questions about her history, Queensland Health agreed to investigate the claims against her, and invited ”anyone with concerns” to raise them with authorities.
Ms Lakaev denies all the claims of her former followers, saying she did not run a cult, had never been violent, and the theological claims were merely ”metaphors”, adding, ”this stuff has been taken completely out of context”.
Complaints against her by former acolytes have been investigated once by Queensland’s health regulator, but no action taken. The national health regulator will not comment except to say Ms Lakaev ”has current registration and is therefore deemed fit to practise”.
Ms Lakaev has faced criticism for more than a decade about the extreme practices on her courses, and accusations that she was a practitioner of ”coercive persuasion” or mind control techniques.
Ms Lakaev’s business, Universal Knowledge, is styled as a new age personal development course. It has not offered courses since last year, but the program promises to cleanse the ”cellular memory” of its participants and help them take the ”next evolutionary step” by lifting them into the fourth dimension.