Kids at Australia ashram not starved
Children at an ashram of an Indian guru, who died 17 years ago, in Australia, were not deprived of food, the ashram-'s resident doctor has said.
Sydney: Children at an ashram of an Indian guru, who died 17 years ago, in Australia, were not deprived of food, the ashram's resident doctor has said.
Henry Sztulman, a general practitioner and resident of the Satyananda Yoga Ashram from 1979 to 1990, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, that he was distrustful of the children's allegations as reported to police in 1987, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Tuesday.
"I continued to visit the ashram's leader, Swami Akhandananda Saraswati, after he was jailed in 1989 over sexual offences committed against ashram children," said Sztulman.
Akhandananda Saraswati's conviction was overturned in 1991.
Sztulman told the commission that he now believes former child residents were sexually abused by their spiritual leader but denied a claim that he treated one child with morphine for minor ailments.
He was reprimanded by the tribunal and placed under supervision for about two years.
Muktimurti Saraswati, who has lived at the Mangrove Mountain on and off since 1978, could not recall instances of abuse. She works at the ashram in an administrative role.
She also denied claims that she fetched children and sent them to Akhandananda's room for sex. "I felt the children had a great deal of freedom in their lives ... they were happy and well cared for."
Public hearing in ashram's alleged sexual abuse cases started Dec 2.
The Royal Commission was established in 2013 by the Australian government pursuant to the Royal Commissions Act 1902 to inquire into and report upon responses by institutions to instances and allegations of child abuse in Australia.