Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive

Cult member denies her mind was controlle

Court gets rare and detailed insight into world of Scientology

The Independent, 10 March 1995


A young cult member whose best friend and former flatmate allegedly tried
to 'rescue' her from the sect told a court yesterday that she had signed a
'billion-year' contract to Scientology. 

Kathleen Wilson, a 23-year-old former shoe shop worker who left her job to
live near the sect's headquarters, said that in the contract she agreed to
decrease the 'power of the enemy' and increase the religion's strength.
She also gave a detailed and rare insight into the working of one of the
world's largest and most controversial cult religions. 

Miss Wilson said she had undergone 'auditing', a type of counselling in
which members reveal their inner problems - called 'withholds' - while
holding on to tin cans which are connected to a machine called an E-meter.
The court has heard how her former flatmate, Stephen Cooper, 27, feared
she was being brainwashed. He told detectives after his arrest that her
mother was worried she had been imprisoned. 

However, yesterday Miss Wilson denied being a 'robot' who had been
hypnotised and imprisoned by the sect, and said she was happy working at
the Saint Hill Castle HQ, in East Grinstead, West Sussex. 

Mr Cooper is alleged to have tried to snatch her back just days before she
was due to fly out to Los Angeles to undergo further training. Scientology
was founded in 1959 by L Ron Hubbard, an American science fiction writer
who believed that it was possible for individuals to reach a state of
immortality by following a detailed system of mental examination and
therapy which he called Dianetics. 

Miss Wilson told Lewes Crown Court, in East Sussex, that she joined the
cult after being given a leaflet and then taking a number of courses. 

The jury heard that Scientologists wear a navy blue uniform and work at
the cult's castle from 9am to 10pm for pounds 33 per week. Miss Wilson
also disclosed that the castle grounds are patrolled by security guards
who have walkie-talkies and high-powered torches. 

She said that new recruits undergo counselling until, after many years,
they reach the state of spiritual ecstasy which is known within the cult
as level 8. At this point, they become an 'Operating Thetan'. 

The cult has an internal disciplinary organisation called the
Rehabilitation Progress Force. She disclosed that acts against the
religion are called suppressive acts and people who commit them can be
'disconnected' from the church - the equivalent of excommunication. 

Miss Wilson said that during auditing 'you are asked questions. When you
have problems it is to help you. There is an E-meter which is a device to
pick up any reaction you have to a certain thing that is giving you
trouble, like distress or something like that. The meter is round and has
a dial on the front and a knob on the side'. 

John Tanzer, for the defence, asked Miss Wilson: 'Are you being put into a
light trance in these sessions?'

She replied: 'No, nothing happened.'

Mr Tanzer said: 'Were you ever hypnotised during these sessions?' 'No,'
she said. 'You go in as you are and come out as you are.' She admitted
signing the billion-year contract to the church but said she was free to
go if she wanted, adding that although she agreed to 'uphold the standards
of the religion' it did not make her a robot. 

The prosecution alleges that Mr Cooper helped to try to snatch Miss Wilson
back when he jumped out at her as she walked through the castle's gardens.
But the attack was foiled when other Scientologists came to her rescue and
bundled her on to a staff bus. 

The alleged kidnap attempt came just hours after Miss Wilson met her
former best friend, Lorna Bowden, and Mr Cooper for a meeting in the
castle's pavilion. Miss Bowden and Mr Cooper, her boyfriend, who had both
shared a flat with Miss Wilson, in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, had gone to
the church to talk to her about the training trip to America. 

Miss Wilson was accompanied at the meeting by two senior church members
and the discussion was stopped when she said she had to attend a staff
meeting. After his arrest, Mr Cooper said that Miss Wilson 'no longer had
a mind of her own' and was being hypnotised by the sect. Mr Cooper, a shop
manager, of Saltburn-by-the-Sea in Cleveland, denies attempted kidnap and
affray. The case continues. 

Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive