Sex cult’s yoga retreat could net owners millions
A CENTRAL Coast yoga retreat once home to a sex cult with a legacy of child abuse has come up for sale with expectations of about $6 million.
The enormous 99ha property at the foothills of Mangrove Mountain grabbed headlines in 2014 when it was revealed children of guests were drugged, raped and beaten in the 1970s and 1980s.
The owners of the property are not-for-profit organisation Mangrove Yoga, rebranded from Satyananda Ashram - the original group that established the controversial yoga retreat in the 1970s.
The group said it would direct proceeds of the sale of the site at 300 Mangrove Creek Rd to a new wellness foundation after reportedly compensating victims of the sexual abuse last year.
The group had sold off another property in 2016, allegedly using part of the $3.1 million sale price for the undisclosed payout to victims.
The sale includes the site of the yoga retreat itself, along with about 35ha of farmland to the north.
The ashram site includes commercial kitchens, accommodation and multipurpose rooms.
A Royal Commission in 2014 heard testimony from nine victims of abuse at the site who later revealed shocking details about the ashram in court.
Some of the most shocking testimony came from the handmaiden of the camp's leader Swami Akhandananda Saraswati.
'Shishy', who had legal guardianship of children at the retreat in the 1980s was said to have brought young girls to the swami for sexual initiation.
One victim described how she was stripped naked at seven years old and held down while her skin was cut by the swami, who later licked the blood and had intercourse with her.
The swami and Shishy were said to have deliberately created wedges between parents and their children, surrendering their names and identities to transform themselves into disciples of the community.
They then manipulated the children into becoming "sex spies" and having sex with the swami.
Shishy left the ashram in 1985 and gave evidence against Akhandananda, who was jailed in 1989 for indecent dealing with four girls.
The conviction was overturned in 1991 and Akhandananda was released. He died in 1997.
Mangrove Yoga said selling the property was part of a process of "exploring options to establish a new foundation with a focus on wellness".
Selling agent Peter Vines of CBRE Western Sydney said he was confident they would find a buyer who could "move on and create something positive."
Mr Vines was tight-lipped about the price guide, but comparable sales in the area were about $85,000 per hectare, suggesting the property could sell for over $6 million.
"It's had an unfortunate past but we are confident that we'll find a buyer," he said.
"This is a stunning site in one of the most magical places in the world."