Healer Is Sentenced to a Year’s Probation

Times Staff Writer

A Malibu judge sentenced a Topanga spiritualist Wednesday to a year’s probation for practicing medicine illegally.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lawrence J. Mira also ordered Felix Babu Stephen to take ethics classes and obtain proper licensing for his healing practices, which include massage.

“Part of the problem of the area you’re engaged in is what the boundaries are ... what you can and can’t do,” Mira said.


Both the prosecution and the defense said they were satisfied with the outcome of the case, which began a year ago amid allegations of sex abuse and drug use during therapy sessions inside Stephen’s tent-like yurt.

Authorities ultimately rejected sex charges, finding no evidence of wrongdoing, but pressed felony charges of practicing medicine without certification, grand theft and possession of codeine. Stephen would have faced more than six years in prison if convicted.

Last week, Stephen agreed to plead no contest to a misdemeanor of practicing medicine without certification.

The spiritualist, whose client list has included British rock star Sting and actor Robert Downey Jr., practiced what he described as an esoteric branch of ayurveda, a popular Indian holistic health system.

“This was a just decision,” defense attorney John Stanley said. “This was characterized by the government as voodoo and black magic. The government is afraid of what they don’t understand. They legislate against what they don’t understand.”

Deputy Dist. Atty. Ralph Shapiro said he didn’t think Stephen belonged in jail because he had no criminal record.