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'Rescuer' denies sect kidnapping

The Times, 9 March 1995, Page 3

by Michael Horsnell

A MAN who tried to "rescue" a woman from the headquarters of the Church of Scientology amid fears that she was being brainwashed went on trial yesterday accused of attempted kidnap and affray.

Kathleen Wilson, 23, a church member, claims she was the victim of an attempted abduction by Stephen Cooper, a shop manager and an acquaintance of her mother, as she walked through the grounds of Saint Hill Castle at East Grinstead, Sussex, in 1992.

Lewes Crown Court was told that despite being threatened with a knife and a rottweiler dog, Scientologist friends pulled her away from her abductors and bundled her on to a staff bus.

When he was arrested, Mr Cooper, 27, from Saltburn, Cleveland, told police that Miss Wilson had been subjected to hypnosis by the sect and no longer had a mind of her own.

Richard Cherrill, for the prosecution, told the court: "He said he believed that she was imprisoned. He said he had been contacted by Miss Wilson's mother who had expressed concern that her daughter was going to the US for further training. He agreed that Miss Wilson never said she wanted to be removed."

Mr Cherrill said that Mr Cooper, who denies the charges, and two other people jumped on Miss Wilson shouting "Get Her" and "Grab Her".

The trial continues.

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