The founder of “sexual wellness” company OneTaste has failed in her bid to sue the BBC for libel over a podcast.
Last March, Nicole Daedone, the co-founder and former CEO of “orgasmic meditation” company OneTaste, applied to be party to an existing libel action against the BBC over a podcast called “The Orgasm Cult” that ran in November and December 2020. She was joined in her application by OneTaste itself and Rachel Cherwitz, an “orgasmic meditation” practitioner.
The original libel action, which continues, was filed by the Institute of OM LLC and OM IP Co – understood to be a rebranded version of OneTaste – in November 2021.
However, the BBC argued that Daedone, Cherwitz and OneTaste’s libel claims were time-barred, falling outside the 12-month limitation period.
In a judgement handed down on Thursday, Mr Justice Pepperall, who heard the application, said that he would not permit Daedone and OneTaste to be added as parties to the libel claim because the time limit had expired and would be “prejudicial” to the BBC. However, he said that Cherwitz’s libel claim could proceed because she was “not aware of the original claim and did not make a deliberate decision in November 2021 not to join in proceedings.”
“While the High Court has decided not to hear my defamation claim, this does not in any way alleviate the BBC’s responsibility to correct its errors and ensure the facts are put on record,” said Daedone in a statement. “I have said I find bringing defamation proceedings distasteful. Yet despite having in its possession the true facts that unravel the false thread that holds together its podcast, the BBC has been unwilling to do its duty to ensure the public is accurately informed.”
Daedone had claimed the BBC’s podcast had defamed her by suggesting that she – along with OneTaste and Cherwitz – had “controlled a destructive sex cult which, under the false pretence of being a wellness organisation promoting empowerment for modern women, deliberately manipulated and exploited vulnerable women causing them lifelong trauma for the purpose of making themselves wealthy,” according to the judgment.
She also said that the podcast accused the trio of being responsible for “serious criminal acts including the repeated rape of a vulnerable woman, sex trafficking, and facilitating and benefiting from prostitution and violations of labour law,” the judgment continued.
OneTaste was formed in the mid-early 2000s in San Francisco after Daedone was reportedly introduced to “orgasmic meditation” by a Buddhist monk. The company operated workshops, retreats and a coaching program, among other offerings. However, following a Bloomberg deep dive titled “The Dark Side of OneTaste, the Orgasmic Meditation Company,” which claimed the company “resembled a kind of prostitution ring,” the FBI reportedly opened a probe.
Daedone sold her stake in the company in 2017.
The BBC’s 10-part podcast, “The Orgasm Cult,” hosted by Nastaran Tavakoli-Far, touts itself as “a story about people desperate for connection and how far they would go to find it.”
The logline reads: “Join Nastaran Tavakoli-Far as she investigates One Taste through exclusive interviews with former employees and asks big questions about the wellness industry.”
In November, Netflix dropped a documentary about the company titled “Orgasm Inc: The Story of OneTaste.”
A spokesperson for the BBC told Variety: “We note the court’s decision not to allow the libel claims of two claimants to proceed, and aren’t able to comment further at this preliminary stage.”
OneTaste’s current CEO Anjuli Ayer said: “I am encouraged that Rachel Cherwitz’s application for an individual libel claim has been approved. The false attack on a woman for entertainment purposes is misogynistic and should not be allowed to continue. Rachel is a courageous individual for taking on a leading global broadcaster that has lost its moral compass. I am thankful to the High Court for having carefully considered our out of time application for a libel claim against the BBC. The same claim continues from our affiliated company the Institute of OM.”