The person who was probably most affected by Gerard’s obsession with Rigpa is his daughter Janine. Aged 22 in 2000 and outstandingly beautiful, she was already feeling parentally deprived because of Gerard’s professional absences. Determined to take every opportunity to be close to him, Janine started attending Sogyal’s teachings with her father – usually falling asleep against his back. Inevitably Sogyal’s lasciviously roving eye alighted on Janine and in due course she was lured into the brainwashing process that leads to his bedroom.
In 2009 Janine spoke at length about her experiences with Sogyal in a series of recorded interviews. The way she was treated is identical in most respects to what happened to Dierdre Smith.
“We were at a retreat in Germany. He sent for me during his rest period and asked me to massage his hands and feet,” she says.”Afterwards he gave me his schedule and his phone numbers – and almost immediately I was invited to join him for a holiday in Australia. This seemed like a nice thing to do so I said yes.
“I was met in Sydney by a wealthy family who were obviously under orders to look after me – and I was treated like a princess. They have a fabulous house where I was given a room and they arranged everything I wanted – yoga classes, shopping etc”.
Did Janine query this – and wonder why it was happening?
“Not really”, she says, “ I assumed Sogyal was being paternal in an Asian way. But I still hadn’t seen him. Then suddenly, in the middle of the night, he decided it was time to go to the beach.”
A convoy of cars set off. Janine found herself crammed into one of them with five other people, including Sogyal:
“I didn’t get a good impression” she says, “he virtually ignored me, which was not at all the Asian papa way – I think this was the moment when he started to manipulate my feelings.”
The time at the beach coincided with Valentine’s day. Janine was ordered to wear a best dress and turn up at Sogyal’s house for dinner. At this moment she realised the whole set up was somewhat bizarre:
“There was Sogyal surrounded by five or six young pretty girls and there were no other men,” she says. “it was quite fun actually, we had nice drinks and we danced for him. Then at a certain point he asked me to go upstairs with him and massage his head.
I made some sort of smart reply and he became angry. He said I was too proud and he would have to break my pride.”
A few months later Janine got a phone call asking her if she would like to take part in a special training.
“I accepted because it seemed to clarify my relationship with him. It turned out that the people involved were all women. We were put to work in the “lama kitchen.” We called it hell, because it was an underground bunker – a horrible place. A Swiss woman (Renata) was in charge of us and the first three weeks were pure slavery – we worked non-stop doing the cleaning.
“We never saw Sogyal, but they gave us documents listing all the instructions he has given about caring for him around the world. There was nothing about Buddhism, but we were told the whole process was a teaching.
“They made us work so hard we didn’t have time for proper meals. We had to grab food and eat standing up. We were constantly being told to run here or fetch this in a haphazard way – because basically Sogyal is not very organised.
He says he wants something and you have 50 people panicking to get it in five minutes.”
As Janine’s induction into the inner circle unfolded, she was assigned work inside Sogyal’s compound at Lerab Ling – two chalets and a garden surrounded by a high fence. The next stage involved being Sogyal’s personal servant – bringing his food and looking after him in minute detail – in the same manner described by Dierdre Smith.
“He made me the only person to interact with the other people. By this time I was sleeping on the floor in his room…every time he had a thought, I would write it down and communicate it. I had control of the phones and the walkie talkies.”
Sogyal is pampered like a medieval monarch – with a clique of women trained to respond to his slightest whim – day and night, 24/7. He is never alone and never lifts a finger to do anything for himself. After grooming her at record speed (other girls complained she had been fast tracked out of ‘hell’s kitchen’), Sogyal pounced on Janine for the first time at a high stress moment:
“We had arranged to go to dinner at a restaurant to celebrate one of the other girls’ (Minou) birthday. Whenever Sogyal does something like this it is a major operation, involving anything up to 20 people. We have to send an advance party to the restaurant to make sure everything is exactly how he wants it, we have to polish up the big cars, pack his bags, wash him, dress him, collect his pillows, tissues and so on.
I was at the centre of the storm, co-ordinating the various strands and at that time I had had only about three hours sleep a night for the past month.”
When everything was ready and the people were waiting to leave, Sogyal and Janine were alone in his chalet:
“He ordered me to take my clothes off. I thought it was another test, so I did as I was told. He told me to get onto the bed and we had sex. As this was happening he said ‘look into my eyes, this is the moment you connect with your master.’ There were no preliminaries, he did not use a condom, my pleasure was not in the picture and it was all over in about three minutes. Afterwards he made me swear to keep it a secret, even from the other girls, and said if I did not keep the samaya it would be very bad for my karma and for the karma of my family.
“It happened again of course, especially at times of stress – before a teaching for example he has to have his fix. Sometimes it was every day, sometimes less often depending on how many girls he was into, or what was happening.
He is very selfish — he never asks what you would like, it’s always him giving orders. Sometimes there is some petting afterwards and he reminds you how lucky you are. Its not comfortable being in the same bed with Sogyal because he’s an anxious character and he doesn’t sleep well. He keeps waking up and wanting things, medicines or food and so on.
“I blanked out my feelings for a while, but then I became very troubled, which was extremely difficult because I’d been sworn to secrecy and couldn’t talk about it with anyone. Things started to go wrong with my body. My periods stopped. I was in shock. I had to sneak out of Lerab Ling to do the test because I was scared I was pregnant.
“A young lama married to an American woman came to teach at Lerab Ling. He was by himself in the courtyard and I really needed to talk to someone because I knew something was really wrong. So I decided to talk to this lama, hoping he would explain it for me. I asked him ‘what’s a consort?’ He looked at me and he knew exactly what I was talking about. I burst into tears and that bastard said ‘if you are the consort of a master you are very lucky’ and that was it. That’s all he said.”
Dakinis who were in the harem (Alison, Anna, Minou, Nee, Lillie, Jackie, Renata, Lorraine) before Janine’s arrival gradually came to accept her as a team member. Eventually they announced that she should join them in an orgy. Janine was not keen. The other women pressurised her, insisting that they had to do whatever ‘Rinpoche’ wanted:
“They were terrified of being beaten” says Janine. “During the time I was with him continuously, one of us would be beaten every day – because you forgot something or did something wrong. For one girl it was because the way she walked was too proud. I got a little less than the others – some would get a serious, really bad beating.
He got irritated with me because when I did something wrong I would hand him something to hit me with and that would spoil the fun.”