Family give evidence in Scientology case

Irish Times, Jan. 31, 2003
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While she was with the Church of Scientology, Ms Mary Johnston was “like somebody playing a role in a pantomine”, the High Court was told yesterday. Mr Paul O’Kelly, brother-in-law of Ms Johnston, said he found Ms Johnston was dealing with him in a planned and structured way and there was no genuine effort to engage.

Mr O’Kelly, of Edenderry, Co Offaly, was giving evidence in the continuing action by Dundalk-born Ms Johnston (40), now living in Dublin, who later left the organisation. She is suing the Church of Scientology Mission in Dublin, and three of its members for alleged conspiracy, misrepresentation and breach of constitutional rights.

Yesterday, Ms Margaret O’Kelly, sister of Ms Johnston and wife of Paul O’Kelly, said she and other members of her family made efforts in early 1994 to get her sister to meet them to view material, newspaper cuttings and videos about Scientology. Before she invited her sister to the meeting, members of the family needed time to research Scientology and to gather as much information as they could, Ms O’Kelly said. They contacted Ms Johnston and arranged to meet in Edenderry on May 2nd, 1994. Initially, Ms Johnston wanted to know why and rang every day for two weeks to find out the name of a book they had about Scientology and where they had got the information.

Ms O’Kelly said she and her mother arranged to meet Ms Johnston at 2 p.m. but she did not turn up until 6 p.m. Ms Johnston never apologised for being late. They wanted her to make up her own mind when she saw the information they had.

Ms O’Kelly said her sister was not relaxed and was very tense, with a continuous grin on her face. She was under stress. She refused to read any of the material they had. By 8 p.m., their mother was getting upset because Ms Johnston could not bring herself to read the material.

Ms O’Kelly said she had asked her mother to leave and she did. After that, Ms O’Kelly said, she herself broke down and told Ms Johnston they loved her and did not want her to disconnect from the family. Ms Johnston then said she would read the material. They talked about family matters and the tension was gone. The next morning, Ms Johnston said there was a lot of questions to which she wanted answers.

Ms O’Kelly said her sister told her she was very frightened. Ms Johnston had said there were things that Ms O’Kelly did not know about her but which the Scientologists knew and that she was afraid they might reveal them.

Mr Paul O’Kelly said he found that, over a time, Ms Johnston was dealing with him in a very planned and structured way. He got the feeling that every time she walked into a room, the conversation and the nature of the discussions she was going to have was already prepared. There was family concern about her.

The hearing, before Mr Justice Peart, continues today.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday February 1, 2003.
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