A shadowy online guru blamed for breaking up families may be ordered to tell her followers that she is a convicted criminal by a federal judge who is troubled by a pile of disturbing allegations against her.
Liana Shanti, who runs the Lemurian Mystery School, is serving five years’ probation after pleading guilty in May 2021 to concealing bankruptcy assets.
Shanti was ordered back into court this week after The Daily Beast published an investigation into allegations that she is a catfish cult leader who indoctrinates women with QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theories and encourages them to cut ties with their families and take their children to new places she claims are safe from Satanic forces.
Soon after the article was published, Shanti’s probation officer received numerous complaints that the guru had “induced” her followers “to leave their families, remove their children from their homes, and take other uncharacteristic actions,” according to the Honolulu federal court docket, which included redacted version of many letters from her critics.
“Words cannot adequately express the pain and suffering inflicted on our family due to Liana Shanti’s teachings and manipulation of our daughter,” one letter reads. “We fear for our grandchildren’s mental and emotional state from being stripped of contact with family members who love them.”
Liana Shanti is the alter ego of Liane Wilson, a 52-year-old who started her career at a major New York law firm and then became a timeshare salesperson. In 2012, Wilson reinvented herself as an online women’s empowerment health coach. She claims she has supernatural powers, is a direct conduit to Jesus Christ, and can read “Akashic records” containing all the information of the universe, which are stored inside whales. Five years ago, Shanti started posting selfies in which she appeared nearly ageless, at times almost cartoonish—leading some detractors to accuse her of being a catfish.
In court on Monday, the spiritual guru looked much different than her online avatar, according to a family member of a Shanti follower, who attended the hearing, and said Shanti appeared with her family and a dog, wearing a pink blazer and what appeared to be a wig with long, wavy bleach-blonde hair.
“This persona of this perfect nymph-like avatar online—she doesn’t look anything like that,” the source said. “It was so gratifying. We knew that you were not who you say you were. And now I’m actually seeing it in front of my own eyes.”
In the hearing, Judge Susan Oki Mollway brought up a condition of Shanti’s probation, which states that if Shanti’s probation officer thinks she poses a risk to any person or organization, the officer may require her to notify them.
The judge then said that she could order Shanti to include a disclaimer prominently on her web pages and social media accounts that says “something along the lines of, ‘Under the name Liane Wilson, I was convicted on bankruptcy fraud’… so that clients know that there is this background.”
Mollway suggested she could order Shanti to repost this statement about her felony in all of her social media accounts once or twice a week.
The judge also said she is concerned there could be delinquent taxes in Shanti’s tax filings and that these concerns could lead to revocation proceedings. If Shanti’s probation is revoked, she could serve time in prison.
Shanti’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Before the hearing, Mollway reviewed more than 20 victim impact statements submitted by people affected by Shanti.
These letters include harrowing accounts of losing loved ones to Shanti’s Lemurian Mystery School. Many of the statements claim Shanti induced followers to uncover purported memories of childhood sexual abuse. The judge said criminal charges could be brought against Shanti if the allegations are true.
Fear for the children of Shanti followers is a common theme among the letters. In one statement, a father wrote that his daughter told him her mother, his ex-wife, a Shanti follower, made the young girl take a coffee enema against her will as some sort of cleansing ritual after visiting grandparents who had received a COVID vaccine. (Shanti falsely teaches that the vaccine kills souls and that vaccinated people can “shed” on others.)
One former Shanti follower wrote that he joined the Lemurian Mystery School after his then-wife told him Shanti helped her realize their marriage was collapsing. Once inside the group, he saw many followers uncover new memories through working with Shanti.
“She would ‘confirm’ memories of sexual abuse and trauma her followers believed to experience as children,” the man wrote. “These ‘memories’ would surface during the meditation segments in Liana Shanti’s programs. Now my ex-wife is convinced her father sexually abused her. Before our involvement with Liana Shanti, my wife never mentioned this abuse. Pretty soon, all our decisions had to be confirmed by Liana Shanti because she was the ultimate authority.”
The ex-follower wrote that, because of Shanti, he and his wife cut ties with friends and family, quit their jobs, and moved to Florida. He shared personal confessions in Shanti’s private group thinking it was a “safe space.”
After he realized Shanti’s teachings left him “exhausted, malnourished, financially and emotionally stressed, and isolated,” he finally left his wife and the group. When he tried to alert others about his experience, Shanti began attacking him online. “Shanti weaponized the exaggerated confessions and reflections” he had written in her private Facebook group when he was a member. He said she posted these intimate statements on her public Instagram and tagged his employer and put the material on a website so that it comes up in search results for his name.
“I was let go from my job at the end of January due to a ‘lack of work,’” he writes. “It’s difficult to say, but what they read could have influenced their decision. I fear this publicity will make finding a new job and earning a living more difficult, which is what Liana Shanti and her followers want.”
Mollway said she found the letters concerning. She pointed out that the letters allege that Shanti insists that specific people sexually assaulted her followers, and that her followers don’t remember these sexual assaults, but Shanti still knows the incidents definitely occurred. “I know it occurred. I’m telling you it occurred. Leave those terrible people who did these terrible things to you that you do not recall.” Mollway said, characterizing Shanti’s position.
“If that is happening, and they are taking children away, then that is a concern,” the judge said.
Mollway referenced a screenshot of one particular Instagram post included in one of the victim impact statements. “This is why I have a massive amount of documentation for [redacted name of a follower’s child],” the post from Shanti reads. “So she will have her own website and SEE what she went through because most of it will be locked out of her memory… She will forget the bruises. But we won’t let her forget. She and all children DESERVE to know where their trauma comes from. She deserves to know that when [redacted] tells her ‘you had a great childhood[,]’ she will know it’s a lie.”
“Ms. Wilson, I think, is accusing the child’s father of having abused the child,” the judge said. “But [also saying] the child doesn’t remember and will forget.”
At this point, Shanti asked to address the court, and things took a turn for the strange.
Shanti began by telling the judge she had a panic disorder and claustrophobia, and asked if she could remove her mask. Shanti then claimed she is an advocate for victims’ rights and alleged there was evidence of child abuse before the mother began following her.
Mollway cut her off: “She has videos of the abuse—of a man beating her daughter?”
“She has videos,” Shanti responded.
“Hold on,” the judge said. “The whole thing sounds really weird—that you see your child being abused and you decide, OK, I’m going to let this man abuse my kid—and I’m going to video… I don’t understand. When you use the word ‘evidence,’ and you’re a lawyer, what are you talking about? Do you have evidence of the abuse ongoing as it’s happening?”
Shanti said that she misused the word and that the mother had a video of the girl claiming her father sexually abused her.
Mollway responded, “As a lawyer, you undoubtedly have heard that sometimes… a child may be coached and then may say something. So I don’t know the background, but… you might want to be careful before you go around accusing people of things when I don’t know what kind of purported evidence you have. But that is a very serious allegation.”
“And certainly if you induce those things, this making of this video,” the judge added. “Then you need to be a thousand times more careful.”
“Your honor, I don’t get involved ever,” Shanti responded. “I don’t induce anything.”
Next, the judge asked Shanti about another screenshot of one of her Instagram posts that reads: “TONS of people seeing this with regard to [redacted]. The rage and evil in the eyes… this darkness goes WAY back in the lineage.”
“What are you talking about?” Mollway asked Shanti. “You don’t like somebody’s photo so you decide, rage and evil in the eyes, this darkness goes way back in the lineage. You’re talking about some kind of genetic passing down of things. You told me you’re a lawyer. Are you really qualified to be making this kind of statement?”
Shanti said she is free to speak out when she sees evil in a person’s eyes. “And I am qualified as a human being, as a Christian, to speak about evil,” she said. “It has nothing to do with my money or my work or anything related to my probation.”
Shanti digressed into a screed about evil until Mollway cut her off and spoke to Shanti’s attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael David Nammar. She asked them to work together to come up with a proposal for notifying Shanti’s followers that she was convicted of fraud by May 8.
“I don’t know how else to communicate with someone who attracts clientele by using the internet,” Mollway said. “She cannot both say, ‘I get to freely put out what I want, freedom of speech on the internet, and get all these tens of thousands of people to pay me enormous amounts of money, but, Judge, don’t you violate my rights by making me post anything on the internet to in any way affect that.’”
The hearing has given hope to families of Shanti followers. “We’re celebrating today,” said Jason Veras, who submitted a statement to the court. “Everything we’ve been investigating is coming out. We came together and spoke out. And the judge listened to us.”
A few hours after the hearing Shanti posted on her Instagram: “Light has already won, and people who were afraid to speak out are now EMPOWERED.”