The leader of what police have described as a “cult” has been accused of grooming young girls to be sexually abused by her husband.
Jan Hamilton and her late husband Ken Dyers co-founded Australian personal development group Kenja Communications in 1982. Dyers was the group’s former leader, who died by suicide in 2007 following a string of allegations against him.
According to its website, Kenja’s “purpose is to increase understanding of the spiritual nature of man and our relation to the human spirit, along with practical training in the basics of effective communication – time, space and energy.” But the group has also drawn public attention and controversy through allegations and court trials relating to its members – most notably Dyers himself, who throughout his life was accused of sexually abusing seven young girls under the pretence of clearing them of negative energy.
Dyers was set to face trial on 22 offences relating to alleged assaults on two underage girls in 2007 when a third complainant approached police, prompting them to request an interview with the Kenja leader. He took his own life shortly thereafter, and Hamilton – who unsuccessfully sued the NSW Police for allegedly driving him to suicide – has run the group by herself ever since.
In the years since Dyers’ death, claims have been made that other adult members of Kenja witnessed the sexual abuse of children. Now further stories have emerged alleging that Hamilton was involved in facilitating private sessions between Dyers and his victims, according to a report by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
Former banking executive Michelle Ring told the papers that she had been raped by Dyers during private processing sessions when she was a teenager. Ring also told a senate committee on Monday afternoon that Hamilton groomed and emotionally abused her.
“[Ms Hamilton] drove me in her white VW to Ken,” Ring said. “She sent me into the room and ushered me out when he was done, or held me there until the next girl arrived to join us. She gave me antiseptic lollies after each session with Ken so I wouldn’t get infections in my mouth from his abuse. There are many who have the same story.”
VICE World News approached Kenja for comment, and received a link to a statement on the group’s website.
“Jan Hamilton completely rejects as false, malicious and defamatory the statements made by Michelle Ring in the Federal Parliament,” the statement reads. “Those allegations were made in Parliament and so are accorded parliamentary privilege. All Ms Ring’s allegations are completely denied. They are baseless and degrading.”
The statement further accused Ring of “pursuing a dishonest agenda for her own personal motivations” and described allegations that other adults were aware of alleged abuse as “baseless” and “a terrible smear on people’s good character.”
In previous statements, the group has accused The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald of “continuing a witchhunt against Kenja to coerce us into joining the National Redress Scheme” – an organisation established in 2018 for victims of institutional child sexual abuse, through which survivors may apply to receive monetary compensation, an apology and/or psychological counselling. Kenja was named last year as being among a small handful of organisations that failed to sign onto the Scheme. In response, the group published a statement claiming that “Kenja rejects any claim that sexual abuse of children has ever taken place at this organisation. While acknowledging the vital imperatives behind the National Redress Scheme, we do not consider it appropriate that we join in circumstances where genuine claims against us do not exist. Accordingly, Kenja will not be cajoled or threatened into joining the Scheme.”
The group’s refusal to join meant that Ring could not make a claim against them under the Scheme. Ring suggested that the complicity of adults who are still involved with Kenja could be leveraged to force the group into joining the scheme, according to The Age – which is why she raised Hamilton’s name in her submission to the senate committee.
“The adults of Kenja knew what was going on and have never been investigated, just like Jan Hamilton has never been investigated because responsibility of care wasn’t an issue like it is now,” she told the committee. “I do think there is some vulnerability there because one of the ways that Jan manages to stay within that organisation is with the support of her very dedicated followers.”
Kenja has also been the subject of various other controversies. Stephen Bruce Mutch, a former politician, academic and member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, described Dyers in 1993 as “a con man in the image of [Scientology founder] L. Ron Hubbard” (Dyers is in fact a Scientology dropout) and labelled Kenja’s activities as “deceitful recruitment practices, physical and financial exploitation and abuse of cult members, taxation avoidance and the misuse of pseudohypnosis and other mind influencing techniques.”
The next year, a woman went to police and alleged that Mutch had assaulted her in 1978, when she was a minor – allegations that Mutch denied. She was later revealed to be a member of Kenja. An ex-boyfriend of the woman told The Sydney Morning Herald in a statutory declaration that the allegations were “wholly without substance,” and fabricated at the behest of Dyers and Hamilton. The woman’s mother also told the paper that the claims were false.
“The allegations affected me deeply and really impacted on my career,” said Mutch at the time. '”But I have always had sympathy for [the woman] who made them, because she was brainwashed. In the end, I'm glad I raised concern about Kenja. It's one of the things I'm proudest about in my career.”
Kenja is based in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Hamilton has repeatedly denied that it is a cult.
“Kenja is in fact, the opposite of a cult – which by definition eliminates self-determinism,” says the company website. “Kenja training views self-determinism as an imperative for personal growth.”
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