By Vivion Kilfeather
The Irish Examiner
4 December 2002
A woman who claims she was brainwashed by the Church of
Scientology is suing for damages. Dundalk-born
Mary Johnson, 40, who
has a sports equipment shop at Westwood, Foxrock, is also suing
three members of the church: John Keane, Tom Cunningham and
In the High Court yesterday, Sean Ryan SC for Ms Johnson, said she
was "sucked in" by the organisation which brought her under its control
She was recruited to the church in 1992. Efforts were made to prevent
her leaving the organisation, to silence her and to devalue her. The
court was also told efforts had been made to intimidate her and to
prevent her suing.
Mr Ryan said the court would be introduced to a language of psycho
religious-mythical scope and expressions and words with no meaning other
than being defined as Scientology.
Ms Johnson had suffered psychological, psychiatric injuries, panic
attacks and post traumatic stress disorder, together with loss of short
term memory and that condition had been exacerbated by the subsequent
illegitimate conduct of the defendants.
The story began in 1992 when Ms Johnson was emotionally upset after
splitting with her boyfriend. She knew one of the defendants, Tom
Cunningham, a member of the Church of Scientology, who introduced her to
"dianetic auditing" of form of amateur psychoanalysis.
Mr Cunningham continually suggested Ms Johnson should go to the
church's Dublin mission in Middle Abbey Street and have a
personality test so that she could
become involved in Scientology.
The tests involved money and Ms Johnson was not well off. Under
pressure she signed up for a "purification
run down" an introduction to the church at a cost of £1,200.
Ms Johnson was required to do a medical examination and was sent to a
scientologist described as a doctor. She spent long periods in saunas
and was told this was purification. People such as this were described
as "raw meat" by L Ron Hubbard,
the church's founder. In March 1994, she started a "Hubbard Dianetic
Auditing" course in Dublin and continued at Saint Hill Foundation in
In December, a team of recruiters from Saint Hill came to Dublin and
she was asked how she was going to further her studies. She said she
could not afford further payments and was told she should go to her
friends or sell her business.
She gave another £100 deposit for a course on a ship in the Caribbean
and subsequently signed a contract for one billion years to work for
When Ms Johnson got back to Dublin she was subjected to ever more
She left the Church in 1994 after being a member for two years.
The hearing, before Mr Justice Peart, is expected to last about two