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Woman tells of Scientologists trying to exorcise 'demons'

Title: Woman tells of Scientologists trying to exorcise 'demons'
Date: Friday, 2 April 1982
Publisher: St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Author: Kerry J. Northrup
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CLEARWATER — A crowd estimated at 1,000 persons packed Clearwater's Trinity Presbyterian Church on Thursday night to hear a woman who clams to be a former Scientologist describe practices designed to exorcist demons.

Refusing to identify herself other than as "Lee," the 34-year old Wisconsin woman told the audience that she had been a Scientologist for 12 years and had actively pursued secret exorcising procedures, part of the time at the organization's Clearwater headquarters. She said she was eventually ostracized for unsuitable behavior, and finally managed to break the military-type training that she said controlled her.

The large audience, mostly members of Christian congregations from all over the Tampa Bay area who were informed of the meeting at their Sunday services this past week, sat in silence — except for occasional gasps of disbelief — as Lee told her story.

After joining Scientology at age 18 — lured, she said, by the friendliness of the group toward someone who had left family and church five years previously — Lee said she advanced through the church's doctrine of training until reaching a level called "OT" or operating thetan. At this point, "cleared" of her Earthly problems, she said, she was exposed to the secret history of Earth's civilizations told by Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

In that history, according to Lee, an overpopulated galaxy was under the control of an evil dictator named Zeno.

To cure the population problem, Zeno shot a large number of the populace, she said, and sent their bodies to two islands on Earth — including Hawaii — where their soul-like "thetans" were electronically bound together.

According to Lee, all humans are essentially made up of hundreds of these dead thetans or "demons." And the Scientology process, through rigid mental training, attempts to get rid of, or "exorcise," these demons.

Lee said she spent up to $50,000 on training courses to learn the techniques. And even though she said she questioned their validity, peer pressure kept her in the program, she said.

Eventually her doubts led to problems with the Scientology doctrine, however. And shortly after a Swiss woman member of the church committed suicide by jumping from one of Clearwater's causeways in February 1980, Lee said, church authorities feared she would do the same and sent her from Florida back to her home.

After more than a year of being "afraid of living," Lee has managed to snap out of the Scientology frame of thinking but still has problems coping with everyday life.

Church spokesman Hugh Wilhere refused to discuss the validity of Lee's story of demons and exorcism and said that since she is using an alias, it is impossible for him to know whether she ever really was a Scientologist.

"For individual Scientologists, it is a confidential process of auditing," he said. "It's not something I'm going to discuss in the newspapers.

"There are disaffected people in any religion . . . and they'll tell you horror stories, also . . . She sounds like a disturbed person to me and her observations have to be evaluated in that context."