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French court jails Aussie 'guru' for teen girls' rape

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French court jails Aussie 'guru' for teen girls' rape
An Australian Hare Krishna dubbed the “guru of Valbonne” was this week sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping two 15-year-old girls in the south of France. Photo: Indi Samarajiva
18:39 CEST+02:00
An Australian Hare Krishna follower dubbed the “guru of Valbonne” was jailed for 15 years this week for raping two 15-year-old girls in the south of France. In a separate case in France, a cult leader, was jailed for five years for forcing family members to have sex with each other.

A court in the southern French city of Nice sentenced a 41-year-old Australian man to 15 years in prison this week, after finding him guilty of raping two 15-year-old female “followers”, according to local newspaper Nice Matin.

Sean O’ Neil, was labelled a “sexual predator” by prosecutor Muriel Fusina during sentencing on Wednesday.

O'Neill himself had claimed he had been reluctantly servicing the “unbridled sexual appetites” of the teenage girls.

Prosecuting lawyer Katia Calvini rejected those claims out of hand on Wednesday, telling the court: “He is a narcissistic pervert, he’s just trying to shift the responsibility for what actually happened.”

Fusina agreed, telling the Australian expat: “You are a sexual predator, who used the concepts of Hare Krishna for your own perverted ends."

"In your clutches, two teenage girls lost their virginity. Under your influence, they prayed for two hours every day, undertook a vegan diet, and broke off ties with their friends," she continued.

O’ Neil had told the court earlier in the day that he had only come to France in the first place at the “urgent request” of ‘Marie’ – one of his teenage victims, whom he had met online.

To the shock and visible upset of his victims, present in the court on Wednesday, O’ Neil even went so far as to blame them for the apparent physical abuse he subjected them to.

“She asked me to to hit her, so I did, until my hands hurt,” a weeping O’ Neil told the court in Nice, adding that he had had no choice but to engage in group sex with the girls.

O’ Neil was acquitted of the rape of a third teenage girl, but the court ordered that he be deported from France for life at the conclusion of his prison sentence.

'You forced a mother to have sex with her own children'

Elsewhere this week, a 57-year-old former English teacher and erstwhile cult leader was sentenced to five years in prison for “abuse of weakness,” for forcing followers and even members of the same family to have sex with each other.

The sentence was passed in the context of France’s strict 2001 law against cults.

The court in Caen, north-western France on Wednesday found that Françoise Dercle from the ‘Parc d’Accueil’ sect had forced her followers to have sex with each other, often in groups, between 2002 and 2007.

Dercle frequently even forced family members to engage in incestuous sex acts with each other, the court found.

Judge Henri Ody on Wednesday confronted Dercle with a particularly disturbing incident. “You forced a mother to have sexual relations with her [adult] children, one of whom was severely handicapped,” Ody told Dercle.

She had originally been given a four-year jail term in January, but her sentence was increased by 12 months on Wednesday.

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