Manufacturing a “Cult” and its leader:
'Beyond Our Ken', a pseudo-documentary based on a hostile narrative
In 2007 film makers Melissa Maclean and Luke Walker released the “documentary” film Beyond Our Ken, which was promoted as the expose of a cult. Ultimately the finished product was the manufacturing of a cult - constructed from false and vicious narratives promoted by people associated with the former Cult Aware organisation.
We agreed to allow the film makers to produce the documentary and to provide our time and resources for that purpose, in the hope that the film would be a balanced and fair minded documentary about our organisation and history. We opened our doors completely to Maclean.
During the course of filming, Maclean was approached by associates and supporters of Cult Aware who had a long history of attacking Kenja and seeking to discredit Ken Dyers. Before long, Maclean had lost all objectivity and impartiality and had become part of the band wagon seeking to demonise Kenja and Ken Dyers and promoting the Cult Aware narrative. People who had been previously involved in damaging attacks on the organisation were back in business, with a couple of film makers who saw an opportunity for a sensationalist production. They took the bait and ran with it. Journalistic objectivity and impartiality - the essence of a good documentary, gave way to sensationalism and smear. A critical evaluation of the history and activities of Kenja surrendered to the Cult Aware narrative and agenda.
Maclean conducted 5 interviews with Ken in 2006. By the time of these interviews he had spent many years fighting false allegations of sexual abuse, which had been rejected time and time again by the courts. Ken made huge efforts, particularly considering that he was 84 years old, to help and accommodate the film makers’ requests, often sitting and being interviewed for many hours at length. Unfortunately, over the course of the film’s production, the perspective morphed from critical documentary (Ms Maclean had originally expressed the view to us that she was making an objective film about “new age movements”, and we were just one of them), to a biased and prejudiced narrative mostly informed by disgruntled ex-members associated with the Cult Aware movement. Maclean and Walker ended up swallowing all manner of outrageous and horrible allegations, all based on lies and the desire to smear Kenja and Ken - promoted by Cult Aware. The filmmakers never informed us that they were developing their narrative from Cult Aware people and hostile ex-members and so clearly misleading us throughout.
Some of the “players” who fed the false narrative promoted in the film
The first negative person seen attacking Kenja is Annette Stephens. In late 1991 we asked her to cease participating in Kenja activities. We had ongoing clashes with Annette over her unethical behaviour. She was also bitter and angry that we had not allowed her to begin a Kenja centre of her own. She was to later state that she had been “deprogrammed”.
Deprogramming is an activity which emerged in America which at that time involved the forcible kidnapping of an individual and subjecting them to mental and sometimes physical abuse in order to change their belief system. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s in America some families availed themselves of this deprogramming service, horrified that loved ones had turned their back on the family religion and were embracing a new one. This practice was condemned by courts in America, and the American organisation that acted as a referral system for deprogramming. “Cult Awareness Network” was bankrupted after a million-dollar damages award was made to a young man who had been deprogrammed who sued and won his case against the deprogrammer Rick Ross, and Cult Awareness Network for acting as a referral organisation for deprogramming.
After therapy, including hypnotism, by “exit-counsellors” (the new name given to deprogramming), Annette Stephens became the face of the Anti-Cult movement attack on Ken and Kenja. She joined forces with an Australian ex-politician Stephen Mutch, who had been instrumental in the original attack on Kenja in the early 1990s.
So the attack on Ken and Kenja began. For Ms Stephens, this included promoting civil proceedings, newspaper attacks and sensationalist television stories. All of these attacks failed. It was only after the suicide of a young man named Michael Beaver and subsequent false claims that Kenja was responsible, that their attack got off the ground
The exploitation of Michael Beaver
The film employs a sensationalist style of reporting in linking the suicide of Michael Beaver with Kenja. However, the filmmakers had full access to comprehensive documentary evidence which completely discredited the narrative they decided to run with. In fact, there is footage of Melissa being taken through the documents.
Around October 1992, about two years after he ceased Kenja activities because he was asked to do so, Michael Beaver was being treated at the St George psychiatric hospital for drug addiction. He was also diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Subpoenaed documents show he was coming to terms with his condition and making progress through appropriate medication and treatment.
Then his mother became involved with Annette Stephens, Stephen Mutch MP, and other fanatics from Cult Aware who convinced her that Michael was not a paranoid schizophrenic, that he did not have a drug problem, and that he simply needed ‘deprogramming’ to cure his condition. Mr Beaver’s doctors considered this viewpoint to be delusional.
Over the Christmas period in 1992, Michael, in the company of his mother and Annette Stephens, and others (the girls who later brought sex allegations against Ken Dyers) was “deprogrammed” in the company of Cult Aware personnel. They took him off his medication. After his deprogramming and re-admittance in an even more serious state to a psychiatric hospital, Michael repeatedly denied his paranoid schizophrenia saying he needed more deprogramming and hypnosis to ‘cure’ him of his ailment. These matters were referred to in Michael’s records.
So, the real story, revealed by documents obtained years after the event under subpoena, and of which the filmmakers were aware, is a horrific one of Cult Aware taking control of a mentally disturbed man, “deprogramming” him, taking him off his medication and convincing him that he did not have a mental condition, with the tragic end being his suicide. Had the police known of the circumstances surrounding Michael Beaver’s abuse at the hands of Cult Aware we presume that they would have investigated further. However at the time, true to their modus operandi, the Cult Aware operatives pointed the blame at Kenja for Michael’s suicide which became the story line for the sensationalist commentary on A Current Affair, so avidly included in the film.
The film treated the suicide of Michael Beaver with complete disregard for the evidence the producers had of the insidious involvement of the very people used as key witnesses in the “documentary”’s narrative.
The sexual abuse narrative
The film makes a concerted attempt to sow confusion about the criminal proceedings against Ken. However, here are the facts about that first court case in the 1990s: Ken was tried on 11 counts of child molestation. He was found not guilty on 10 of them and in a separate trial he was initially found guilty of kissing a girl on the forehead. In the trial, the prosecution had wanted to drop the case, because the complainant “did not come up to proof”. This means she did not give evidence that she had originally told the police. The prosecution also admitted there were “glaring inconsistencies” between the evidence of the girl and her mother.
On appeal to the High Court of Australia in 2002, this conviction was quashed.
The type of allegations of sexual misconduct made by Annette Stephens, Adrian Norman and Jenny Hodges in the film, were all advanced during the 1993 court proceedings against Ken - a highly orchestrated attack against Kenja. The allegations were completely discredited and documentary proof from this trial indicated overwhelmingly the conspiracy between Stephens, Mutch and other protagonists in association with the complainants making the allegations. (The documentary proof formed the basis of our theatre production, “Guilty Until Proven Innocent”).
The Anonymous Informant
The black silhouetted figure in the film is a known ex-Kenja participant who was asked to leave in 2002, after inappropriate behaviour with his daughter and serious issues regarding his financial dealings including money laundering for Thai clients purchasing art from him for cash. He was a self-confessed “wipe-out” with drug and alcohol problems, when he first met Ken in the early 1980s. He publicly acknowledged Ken as the source of the help he received, which pulled him back from the brink. He is actively involved with activities to destroy Kenja to this very day, motivated by a desire to hide his own nefarious activities.
Provoking Ken into a reaction, which becomes the manipulated decisive “cut”
As the film progresses, it exploits footage from the end of a working day where Ken was exhausted, making him look worse and worse. Ken’s anguish in the final interview is shown in the film, plain for all to see if you look at the full footage rather than the dishonest cut, is the anguish of a man unjustly accused, severely harassed by Maclean, who is innocent, who has already proven his innocence in court, but who is deeply frustrated at having to face the same malicious allegations that were shown to be rubbish, in courts of law, so many years before. As Ken said on camera, “it hurts me to have to defend against questions that are straight bullshit; I'm not going to defend myself against garbage”.
Ken, in deep frustration, ‘blew up’, angry with the ongoing allegations and provocation coming from Cult Aware and hostile individuals - and put to Ken through (by then) filmmakers with an agenda. It was a stunt which deeply discredited Maclean and Walker and makes the film a mockery of a genuine documentary. Instead of 3 hours of interview footage, Maclean and Walker run with the outburst to maximise the sensationalist effect and avoid any context to Ken’s understandable frustration. Capitalising on Ken’s tragic suicide, the film was rushed to production 2 weeks later to maximise impact and sensation in the filmmakers interest to promote the film.
Ken was found innocent of any wrongdoing in long court proceedings. Beyond Our Ken, in the end, was not interested in facts, rather, the film became no more than salacious tabloid journalism promoted as a “documentary”. The film utterly failed in the first principle of documentary filmmaking - knowing that there is always two sides to a story.
How the film was manipulated
Below we have set out a small sample of examples of how as a filmmaker Melissa Maclean manufactured a narrative designed to discredit Ken Dyers and Kenja, in pursuit of her hostile and sensationalist agenda, and a small sample of footage that Melissa deliberately left out, because it was inconsistent with the narrative she was promoting.
Watch the Video: How she falsified the "A Current Affair" question and response
Watch the Video: Melissa's attempt to invalidate Energy Conversion
Watch the Video: Manufacturing of an answer regarding Cornelia Rau
Watch the Video: The real story of Michael Beaver
Watch the Video: Melissa Maclean's school of falsification - a small selection of the expansive, honest and detailed footage she left out