It’s undoubtedly been the most bizarre side-story in The Bachelor history. The revelation that contestant Keira Maguire was born into an infamous polygamous cult, a “seaside sect” consisting of her father, his nine ‘wives’ and their 64 children.
There was the Woman’s Day story on Monday, the A Current Affair follow-up and countless headlines in between. But now the 30-year-old has told the story in her own words during an emotional appearance on The Project.
“I knew this potentially might come out,” she said. “Everyone has a past. I’ve always got this fear of people finding out.”
via Channel 10
Alistah Laishkochav formed the polygamous cult in Bells Beach, Vic, after moving from New Zealand in the 1970s. Fashioning himself as a self-styled messiah, the former policeman would split his time and over $200,000 in social services payments between his harem of women.
During tonight's pre-recorded interview, Maguire confirmed she spent her first five years in the cult, until her mum whisked her and her immediate siblings away to live with their grandparents in Brisbane.
"I actually didn't know who my mum was until I was five," she said. "It sounds really strange. But it just is what it is.
"I didn't even have birthdays, like I had my first birthday when, I think, I was seven. For other people it would be like 'well, that's really sad', but it's not, because it's my story."
Though her upbringing away from the commune was perfectly unremarkable, those early years clung to her well into adolescence.
"I knew that I was different. I didn't want to tell people because I didn't want to be judged," she said. "Like even in relationships with guys, like, I never opened up about it because I was like I don't want them to judge me because, like, I'm not normal."
via Channel 10
Maguire said the coverage of her early years has "forced" her to confront what happened to her and her family, but that the hardest aspect of it has been watching the A Current Affair episode. After the identity of Maguire's father was revealed by Woman's Day on Monday (an article for which Maguire says she was not consulted), the programme re-aired a story from 1992 during which they spent a week inside Laishkochav's cult.
Though sobs, Maguire said her mother would be “devastated” that they showed the footage again.
"I'm obviously very protective of my family. When I saw my mum on TV - very confronting. That was the only thing that really upset me, 'cause I just knew that she didn't want to be there and I know her. And she was the same age that I am today when I saw her there."
Still, Maguire is determined not to let her past interfere with her future.
"I swear to God, I remember being five years old and thinking, 'Nup, you've got this.' You know, you control your future," she said. "I mean, yes, it has affected the way that I think and the way that I am, but only for good reasons."