Case Study

Kathleen Wilson

Bernie (

For awhile, I have been rambling on alt.religion.scientology about the anti-cult fallacious theory of mind-control, and how its natural consequence is the justification of coercive restrain, the reaping apart of families, overreaction from authorities, etc. I have been told by anti-cult proponents that the cases I presented are old, that although kidnapping happened in the past "we don't do it anymore", and is not true that the mind-control theory means that the person is not responsible for his/her action and therefore does not mean that he/she has to be saved against his/her will. So lets have a look at a case that was judged in 1995 and happened end of 1992.

What follows is my analysis of the case of Kathleen Wilson. The source of it is to be found here (link doesn't work anymore).

Kathleen Wilson, originally from Boosbeck, Clevelant, UK, was the only child of elderly parents, Raymond and Margaret Wilson. She left the family early to live with a friend, Lorna Bowden, and with Lorna's boyfriend, Stephen Cooper. The three of them lived in a small flat in Bognor Regis and Kathleen worked in a garden center until she found a job as sales assistant in a shoe shop in Chichester and moved there.

Kathleen, apparently of a quiet, rather shy, nature, didn't seem in such good terms with her apparently dominant mother. " I tried to get along with her - but everything I did she would criticize. We had this big piano. I tried to learn. All she said was: 'You're doing it all wrong.'" Her father, a bricklayer, had left home when she was 11. " She used to control everything - the clothes, everything. Even my money." But everybody has to have something. " I didn't want to argue I told her I would move. I went when I was 19. I went with my friend, Lorna. I packed a suitcase and went to Bognor Regis."

Obviously, her work in the shoe shop didn't enthrall her, and as many young, she was looking for a meaningful and useful life: "I n the shoe shop, I was doing the same thing - day in, day out. I wasn't happy with the job. I wanted to do more in life."

One day, she is handed down a Scn fliers, which said that we "only use 10 per cent of our mental potential". She sent it off, got the Dianetic book, and started to get involved. A year later, she moved in the nearby Saint Hill Castle in East Grinstead and started to study, live, and work there.

Obviously, the relationship with her mother didn't improve with her involvement with the COS. It is rather obvious that her mother was also fed with the anti-cult "information", information that demonizes all cults and present their members as brainwashed zombies. She believed that Kathleen " will be brainwashed and live as a slave for the rest of her life." She even wrote her daughter out of her will when she became involved with the Church of Scientology. A clause in the will said that Kathleen must have given up the sect within five years or the money goes elsewhere (she will now leave her money to animal charities).

Her mother claims that when she phoned Kathleen they just put the receiver down on her. This is atypical, and is probably just the demonized version of the fact that Kathleen tried to politely say to her mother that she shouldn't try to frenetically convince her that she isn't there of her own free choice and to tell her that she should leave.

We can clearly see the deepening of the gap created by the demonized information and the mistrust generated by the mind-control theory, worsening an already bad situation and being used as a cover up for the mother to impose her own will to her adult child for a choice with which she didn't agree with.

14 months after she joined, Kathleen, now 21, rang her mother to tell that she was going off to Los Angeles. Her mother interpreted this move in an extremely unlikely scenario, most certainly through the distorted pictures gotten from the demonizing mind-control theory. She rang to Kathleen's friends (Lorna and Stephen) to say she was worried. " Kathleen had rung her," writes The Observer of 19 March 1995, " to say she was going to America but did not really want to. They were forcing her." When Kathleen rang her friends to meet and say goodbye, they in turn interpreted this through the filter her mother had just provided them, and through the previous anti-cult type of information they must have received as well.

Follows a paranoiac description of the meeting that took place in the evening of the 6th of November 1992, in which undoubtedly, Lorna and Stephen tried to convince Kathleen that she was brainwashed and that she should leave with them.

" They arranged to see her at Saint Hill Castle, where Ms Wilson was ushered in by a security guard. 'I was shocked and frightened. Kathleen was dressed in a blue uniform like an army officer and showed no emotion towards me at all. There was another woman there who started making small talk. Every time I asked Kathleen a question, she would answer for her."

" After a few minutes, the guard tapped his watch and Ms Wilson got up to leave, but whispered to Ms Bowden that she would be catching a bus to the station at 10.30pm. Convinced this was a cry for help, the couple decided Mr Cooper should return to try to 'get her into a position where she could make up her own mind what she wanted to do'"

Three hours later as Kathleen went for a walk through the castle grounds, Cooper and another man jumped out at her shouting 'Get her' and 'Grab her'. Fellow Scientologist Austin Lenniston, despite being threatened with a knife and a rottweiler dog, came to her aid, grabbing her around to stop her from being dragged away and bundled her on to a staff bus. Lenniston suffered a minor knife wound in the struggle.

When he was arrested, Cooper told police that Kathleen had been subjected to hypnosis by the sect and no longer had a mind of her own. He was indicted of attempted kidnap and affray.

The case was pleaded in front of a jury at the Lewes Crown Court in March 1995.

"To prove attempted kidnap," writes the Daily Telegraph of 15 March 1995, "[Prosecutor Richard Cherrill] had to establish four elements - an attempt to remove her, that it was by force, that it was without lawful excuse and that she did not consent."

"The first two elements were not challenged - Mr Cooper admitted to police he went to snatch her, ' probably against her will', after being contacted by her mother - and the judge [Mr Justice Hidden] ruled he could not offer a defense of lawful excuse because that would require a belief that she faced physical danger. But the judge ruled that there could be a possible defense on the grounds of consent, even though Miss Wilson testified that she did not consent."

"This enabled Mr [John] Tanzer [Cooper's counsel] to tell the jury some of the evidence suggested a regime in which she was effectively enslaved and robbed of her free will."

Thereby started what we often witnessed in these type of suits in the US: the victim, not those who resorted to unlawful acts, is put on trial, and the whole battery of anti-cult arguments is used against the member and the group. This battery has been used in the early times of anti-cult heyday too, quite successfully. The judges and jury did not usually have all the information on the whole cult/anti-cultl issue, and felt for the sensationalism and superstition of the mind-control theory.

An other reason why juries have had a reluctance do convict family members who abducted their adult child is that kidnapping is a serious offence, that often incurs serious penalties. Juries have a problem agreeing to such harsh penalties to be applied on parents. Anti-cult proponents know of this situation and play on the emotion of the jury, probably parents themselves.

For example, Cooper said he was not a " malign kidnapper using unwarranted force to take away a damsel manifestly not in distress." Rather, he wanted to " put her in a position" to make her own free choice. " I was only interested in the welfare of Kathleen."

Cooper's counsel, John Tanzer, added " Our case is simply Kathleen Wilson was a victim. That she was deprived of her own free will and that Mr Cooper sought to rescue her."

Tanzer argued that, even though she claimed in court she did not consent to removal, it was possible her free will had been removed by the processes she had undergone in the cult and she did not have " sufficient intelligence and understanding" to decide if she consented. " Kathleen Wilson was a victim. She was deprived of her own free will and Stephen Cooper sought to rescue her. She never said she wanted to be rescued but we say, simply, that is because she couldn't. If a member of our society is turned into a robot, turned into a slave, is that person consenting? A robot is programmed as to what to say. The person underneath has been suppressed and enslaved."

At the end of the week-long trial, Cooper was cleared of the charge by a jury which retired at 12.53pm, began their lunch at 1pm and returned with unanimous verdicts at 2pm.

Cooper achieved the status of a near hero. As Wayne Sage would say, the media, always interested in a kidnapping or a brainwashing story and ecstatic over one with both, spread the word of Cooper exploit. We know that Cooper only went there with another guy and with a rottweiler dog, and that a single Scientologist defeated them. Yet, Cooper is now supposed of having taken on "an army of uniformed guards" (The Observer 19 March 1995).

Of course, as usual, the only result this attempted kidnap and violence achieved was a broken family. More tears, more despairs, more misunderstandings.

Kathleen now claims she is afraid to visit her mother in Boosbeck in case she was the victim of a second kidnap attempt. Her mother has pleaded with her to come home - even for a brief visit - but holds out little hope. " The cult has altered her mind. It is heartbreaking to think I may never see her again."

OTOH, Kathleen is now left on her own as well, without loving support that could help her out from the cult. " It's horrible not having your family," she says. " My mother won't accept what I'm doing. She thinks I'm being kept prisoner. I miss her. I don't like not being able to speak to her or see her."

The anti-cult mind-control theory does indeed separate families. Furthermore, the inescapable consequence of the theory is that the person must be removed by force if he/she can't be convinced otherwise. It is not true that the theory can be dissociate with coercive means, as proclaimed by its proponents. The natural consequence of this theory is forceful intervention, either by kidnapping or by State laws under the guise of "reality inducing therapies." It is a prejudicial theory that have the effect of dismissing whatever the person incriminated has to say. It effectively puts the victim on trial and opens dangerous exception to the most basic civil and human rights there is.


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