A four-star B&B in a quaint Somerset village has been revealed as the British headquarters of a bizarre cult that claims breast massage and burping can rid followers of evil spirits.
The Lighthouse in Tytherington is said to be the European headquarters for followers of Universal Medicine – where members are told what to eat, when to sleep and to shun family members who don’t follow the cult’s teachings.
The cult, set up by a bankrupt former tennis coach in 1999, also endorses vaginal and breast massage and burping as alternatives to modern medicine.
Its leader, Serge Benhayon, claims to be a reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci and has been accused of touching members inappropriately during ‘ovarian readings’.
Benhayon, who lives in Australia, is now a millionaire – having previously been made bankrupt – while his daughter Simone is said to run UM in the UK. He believes she is the reincarnation of Winston Churchill.
UM followers are made to go to bed every night at 9pm and wake up at 3am. They are not allowed to eat carrots or drink alcohol and are banned from making certain clockwise movements.
A four-star bed and breakfast called The Lighthouse (pictured from above) in the tiny village of Tytherington was recently revealed as the UK home of Universal Medicine
A recent court case in Australia, where Mr Benhayon now lives as a millionaire, heard he claims sex abuse victims are being punished for actions in their past lives and that people with autism used to be dictators.
He visits The Lighthouse near Frome twice a year but denies any wrongdoing.
A woman called Kasha from London told the BBC she was 12 when her mother started following Universal Medicine before losing her completely.
She said: ‘I realised that she wasn’t mum any more, so that was quite difficult.’
‘She started burping ridiculously and she said ‘I’m just burping out bad spirits’.’
Its leader, Serge Benhayon (pictured), claims to be a reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci and has been accused of touching members inappropriately during ‘ovarian readings’
Eventually she was forced to give up hope that her mother might abandon the cult, she added.
She said: ‘I think Serge is a cruel man with cruel intentions. I genuinely think he’s a monster.
‘She’s still my mum and I love her. But she’s never going to be the person that she was or the person I even remember her to be.’
A civil court in Australia found Universal Medicine to be a ‘socially harmful cult’ that makes false claims about healing, in a defamation case last December.
It found Mr Benhayon uses bizarre forms of sexual manipulation, exploits cancer patients financially, and persuades followers to shun loved ones who refused to join the cult.
The cult, set up by a bankrupt former tennis coach in 1999, endorses vaginal and breast massage and burping as alternatives to modern medicine. Pictured: The entrance to its UK headquarters in Somerset
Mr Benhayon has always denied running a cult and any wrong doing, saying he is the victim of a media witch hunt.
Another man, John, told the BBC that Universal Medicine took his wife and daughter from him.
He said: ‘Its the way they get inside people’s heads and brainwash them into doing this that are not natural.’
Members are told what to eat, when to sleep and who to mix with while they are also taught to shun anybody who contradicts the cult’s teachings.
Simon Williams, managing director of The Lighthouse, told the BBC the court ruling in Australia was ‘totally untrue’ and people didn’t understand what Universal Medicine was about.
Last year Mr Benhayon unsuccessfully took a former patient to court in Australia for defamation.
Esther Rockett had been blogging about his practices, claiming he indecently touched her during one of his ‘ovarian readings’ and the jury ruled in her favour.
Simon Williams, managing director of The Lighthouse, told the BBC the court ruling in Australia was ‘totally untrue’ and people didn’t understand what Universal Medicine was about