Cult tried to ruin my life
THE tragic death of Mt Morgan cult member Marlene Harbottle in August last year still haunts this Rockhampton woman.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, came forward after allegations against a Mt Morgan-based religious sect, of which she is a former member, were published in Woman's Day last week.
As she sat in her Rockhampton home, she described how "Soul Freedom'' tried to take her away from her family before she left the cult more than two years ago.
"I was preyed upon quite severely by those people,'' she said as she described her two-year association with the cult.
"They implant ideas that your loved ones are there to dismantle you and stop you from being who you really are.
"They destroy families.''
The concerned former member has not been able to get Mrs Harbottle out of her mind since she read last week's article in Woman's Day.
The dead woman's children described her final years, of which some were spent in Mt Morgan with the sect as a "spiritual consultant'' after participating in some of their many courses.
The grief-stricken daughters said Mrs Harbottle, of Albury, New South Wales, had bone cancer and declined treatment because of faith in "angel guides'' ? a cult feature.
The Rockhampton woman said Mrs Harbottle joined the sect just before she herself had decided something was not quite right. "I snapped out of it because they got to the stage where they wanted to hide me in one of their houses at Mt Morgan,'' she said.
"There is a whole heap of ladies the same as me who backed off when I did.''
The Morning Bulletin talked to several Mt Morgan businesses yesterday in the vicinity of a property Soul Freedom reportedly owns.
Diaan Kay Real Estate agent Trevor Kay said there had been talk of a religious group buying property in the area through a Rockhampton real estate agent.
The Rockhampton former member said Soul Freedom claimed Mt Morgan would become the "spiritual capital of the world''.
The group is based on the American Inner Peace Movement, and is led by a woman who claims to long-time members to be a female Jesus.
The message the former Soul Freedom member wanted to send out was that those in the spirituality industry have a degree of responsibility.
"Psychics and clairvoyants should be held accountable for what they tell people,'' she said.
"They (Soul Freedom) should be held accountable for Marlene's lost years with her children and grandchildren.''
The Morning Bulletin attempted to contact Soul Freedom yesterday, however the group failed to return our calls.