Independent: German Man Held at St. Hill, UK, in 1991

Date: January 1, 1991

Allegations of illegal imprisonment and extortion by Scientology

Excerpted from the Independent story Prisoners of Saint Hill.

Emphasis and commentary added.


The Scientologists call it "baby-watching", but it has nothing to do with looking after infants. TIM KELSEY and MIKE RICKS investigate the potentially dangerous, and possibly illegal, secret treatment that the world's largest cult uses to deal with difficult members.

The middle-aged German student started screaming. He seemed to have lost control. He was a Scientologist, a member of the world's largest cult, on a course of study that, he had been promised, would bring him closer to the secrets of the universe and, eventually, give him the key to eternal life.

According to eyewitnesses, the man, whose name is known to the "Independent", was taken to an isolated room in a communal building not far from Saint Hill, a 17th-century manor house in East Grinstead, West Sussex, and the UK headquarters of the cult.

For two weeks, the room was locked. The German had been placed on an "isolation watch" - or what Scientologists more informally refer to as a "baby watch". It is a treatment that was prescribed by the founder of the cult, L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer, for members showing signs of psychosis or mental ill- health -- people who are, literally, plagued by evil spirits. It is the last resort for dealing with difficult Scientologists. It is a treatment that the organisation has so far kept secret.

This indicates treatment for a medical condition - practicing medicine without a license.

The subject of the watch is observed at all times, and not allowed to talk to anybody. He or she is, in the language of the cult, "muzzled". Our witnesses, who have asked to remain anonymous, remember that the German was sometimes incontinent and that they had to wash him down at the sink in the otherwise bare room. The five people who guarded him were only allowed to communicate with him in writing. Eventually he was allowed to return to Germany.

The "baby-watching" incident with the German student occurred in 1991. But the technique has been used more recently, according to confidential church documents dating from September 1993, which have been leaked to the "lndependent".

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