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Sad Mother Who Waits For Her Lost Daughter

Heartbreaking postscript to trial of man who snatched girl from Church of Scientology

Daily Mail, March 16, 1995

By Roger Scott

    HER heart broken, Margaret Wilson knelt in church and offered two prayers as
a man stood trial for snatching her daughter from a sinister religious cult.
One was for Stephen Cooper to be cleared of trying to kidnap 23-year-old
Kathleen from the East Sussex HQ of the Church of  Scientology.

    The other was for her daughter to escape the cult's influence and come home.

    Her first prayer was answered on Tuesday when a jury at Lewes Crown Court
acquitted Mr Cooper, 27, of trying to rescue his former flatmate.

    The second, however, was still unheeded yesterday.

    As Mrs Wilson, 63, sat alone by the fireside in her bungalow she prayed once
again for victory over the people she accuses of turning her 'lost daughter'
against her family.

    'The prayer has not been answered yet, but it will, won't it?' she said,
wringing her hands.

    'She is all I have now and if I don't get her back I might as well be dead.'

    Mrs Wilson is seeking legal advice on how to win her only child back from
the cult, which she joined more than two years ago after quitting her job in a

    Last week, the pensioner travelled from her home in Boosbeck, Cleveland, to
attend the closing stages of the trial and to make contact with the
23-year-old daughter she had not seen in all that time.

    'I glanced across at Kathleen in the public gallery and she just sort of
smiled,' Mrs Wilson said.

    'I waited until I could speak to her outside but she would hardly look at
me. She kept glancing back at people from the cult.

    'Then she was surrounded by them and she seemed as if she daren't answer me

    Mrs Wilson confronted cult members and asked them why they would not allow
her daughter to visit her.

    'They said she daren't come home because she was frightened she would be put
in an institution - as if I would do such a thing to my only child.

    'Besides, she is already in an institution, as far as I'm concerned - being

    Although Mrs Wilson was given phone numbers to arrange a meeting with
Kathleen, when she got through she could only leave a message on an answering

    After Kathleen failed to make the rendezvous, the cult insisted there had
been a mix-up over the time.

    'It's all part of what they do,' said Mrs Wilson. 'They tell you lies then
make you out to be the liar.

    'I don't want to possess her. She is their slave, not mine. I just want to
see her back here with me and happy again.

    'I would like to take them to court, but on a pension how could I afford

    This week's verdict was a severe blow to the cult, which has worked hard to
repair its image since it was described in the High Court in 1984 as 'immoral,
socially obnoxious, corrupt, sinister and dangerous'.

    Mr Cooper's lawyer told the jury that Kathleen had been 'suppressed and
enslaved' by the cult in their headquarters at Saint Hill Castle, East

    When he tried to rescue her his aim had been to 'put her in a position where
she could make her own free choice'.

    But his bid was foiled when he was overpowered by cult members.

    Mrs Wilson, who is divorced from Kathleen's father, can take some comfort
from  the case.

    'I have had to live a lie, not telling the neighbours the truth when they
asked why she was not coming home any more,' she said.

    'Now everyone will know and I'm glad. People should know the terrible effect
it has when your loved one falls in with these people.'

GRAPHIC: Brief reunion: Margaret Wilson with her daughter Kathleen outside Lewes
Crown Court, where Stephen Cooper (left) was cleared of attempted kidnap.
'Kathleen is all I have now,' said Mrs Wilson. 'If I don't get her back I might
as well be dead.'

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