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Maoist cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan used mind control to groom and sexually abuse a female follower, court hears

Published 16/11/2015

Aravindan Balakrishnan denies seven counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape against two women during the 1970s and 1980s
Aravindan Balakrishnan denies seven counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape against two women during the 1970s and 1980s

Maoist cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan used mind control to groom and sexually abuse a female follower, a court has heard.

Balakrishnan, 75, known as Comrade Bala, "dehumanised" and "psychologically stripped" the woman while she was a member of the far-left group in the late 1970s, she told his trial.

This included forcing her to keep an "extremely explicit" sex diary detailing past relationships, which he shared with other followers to humiliate her, she told the jury.

Southwark Crown Court in London heard that the abuse began with kissing while Balakrishnan's wife was in hospital in a diabetic coma, and moved on to oral sex when she lived with him and others in a south London commune.

Angrily fighting back tears as she spoke from behind a screen, the woman, who also accuses Balakrishnan of raping her, told the jury: "The only thing that saved my sanity was going outside because I was meeting with normal people.

"I know he is there (in the dock) and I want him to hear it because I loathe him so much. You must know that - how much I despise him."

The woman was asked by prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC if she ever refused to take part in the sex acts. The witness said she had not, "because his authority was so complete, his control was so complete".

She added: "Psychologically he had already manacled you. You didn't have control over your own mind. He controlled your mind.

"It was something you had to go through. It was almost like we were like animals by then. It was seen as training, that we had to get through this."

The woman said Balakrishnan demanded the sex diary also include her imagining having sex with him and that she should "masturbate accordingly", she told the court.

She also said he wanted her to write about imagining performing an extreme sex act, which she refused to do.

She said: "We were just dehumanised, psychologically stripped. He gave you the sense he had absolute power over your body and your mind. Your deepest ego was being shaped by him."

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She described to the jury how he instilled fear into his Workers Institute commune, convincing followers they were surrounded by "fascist agents" and making them inform on each other.

She added: "I believed that he could kill us and that no-one would know. The others would cover it up."

The woman told the court that Balakrishnan had created such an atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion that she felt massive guilt over buying a pair of Levi jeans for work and also destroyed with a hammer a bottle of expensive Estee Lauder perfume she had bought before joining the group.

Balakrishnan, of Enfield, north London, denies seven counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape against two women during the 1970s and 1980s.

He also denies three counts of actual bodily harm, cruelty to a child under 16 and false imprisonment. None of his alleged victims can be named for legal reasons.

Balakrishnan "reminds me of Pol Pot or Stalin" the woman told the jury, because of the way that he said his followers were there voluntarily, yet he used violent force to prevent them leaving.

On one occasion when she wanted to leave, she said, he and other followers beat her so badly she was off work for three weeks.

She eventually left the group in the late 1980s. She told the court that while in the commune she had sex with Balakrishnan repeatedly over the course of a year or 18 months, saying she never consented but felt unable to say no to him.

"He had control of your mind and your body and if that was something he decided to do he had absolute rights over your mind and your body to do what he wanted," she added.

"You couldn't rebel, you couldn't say I don't choose for this to happen. It was seen as part of your training, as part of being a revolutionary soldier," she added.

She said he told her she was not becoming pregnant by him because she was "impure" and lacked commitment to "the party".

Balakrishnan shook his head several times during the woman's evidence, as he listened through a hearing loop.

Adam Wiseman, defending him, pointed out to the woman that other people had successfully left the commune, and that she left every day to go to work, before coming back.

She agreed with his suggestion that she had been "flighty", "unstable" and "impulsive" before she had joined the group and had worked hard for it once in.

Mr Wiseman asked: "His (Balakrishnan) air of knowledge and charm, was that something that you found attractive? Was he an attractive character?"

The woman replied that he had been "interesting".

Mr Wiseman: "Did you fancy him?"

The woman: "No."

Mr Wiseman: "Did you find him attractive as a character."

The woman: "He was an attractive person - not physically but his personality could be appealing."

The trial continues.

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