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Man accused of kidnap attempt at cult's castle

The Independent, 9 March 1995


Stephen Cooper, a shop manager, tried to kidnap a 21-year-old woman from the
head quarters of a religious sect after fears that she was being brainwashed
a court was told yesterday. He said he had been contacted by the woman's
mother who feared she had been imprisoned.

A member of the Church of Scientology, Kathleen Wilson, claimed that she was
the victim of a kidnap attempt as she walked in the grounds of the cult's
castle headquarters in East Grinstead, West Sussex, in November 1992.

Despite being threatened with a knife and a rottweiler dog, other
Scientologists clung on to Ms Wilson and pulled her away from the potential
abductors, it was alleged at Lewes Crown Court, East Sussex.

When arrested after the incident, Mr Cooper, 27, of Saltburn-by-the- Sea
Cleveland, told police that Ms Wilson had been subjected to hypnosis by the
sect and no longer had a mind of her own. He denies attempted kidnap and

Ms Wilson, 23, of West Hoathly, East Sussex, told the court: 'When T first
got into the Church of Scientology I found it was good and helped me and
other people. I decided to go to East Grinstead to work in the castle
because it was helping others . . . I enjoyed doing the work.'

Richard Cherrill, for the prosecution, said: 'Some of you may know something
of the Church of Scientology and some of you may have read about it. It may
please some people, it may not please others. That is by the by. She was
there because she wanted to be there and the defendant attempted against her
will to remove her. If he had strong feelings against the church it is
neither here nor there.'

Mr Cherrill said that Mr Cooper and two other people tried to persuade Ms
Wilson to leave the sect after arranging a meeting with her but Ms Wilson
cut the discussion short. Then, three hours later as she went for a walk
through the castle grounds, a group jumped out at her shouting 'Get her' and
'Grab her'.

Mr Cherrill said that Ms Wilson was 21 at the time of the incident 'and had
been a member of the church for about 14 months. She said she was in no way
consenting. She was quite happy where she was and had not wanted to leave.

The case continues.

The Independent
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