Bonnie Woods

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Bonnie Woods was declared Suppressive and subjected to a smear campaign.

Bonnie Woods is an American former Scientologist and critic of the Church of Scientology. Woods resides in Britain. She was a member of the Sea Org within Scientology, and left in 1982. She and her family were monitored by a private investigator. The Church of Scientology spread pamphlets around her East Grinstead neighbourhood making negative claims about her. Woods sued for libel against the organization – in response Scientology filed three libel suits against her. Her case eventually reached the High Court of Justice. Scientology paid her for costs and damages, and admitted that the claims it had made about her were false.


Leaving the organization

An American who moved to Britain, Bonnie Woods had been a member of the Sea Organization but left Scientology in 1982.[1] Since 1992, she and her husband Richard have run a telephone helpline for families affected by Scientology.[2] Scientologists declared her a "Suppressive Person", picketing her house and around East Grinstead and putting her family under surveillance.[2] She and her family were followed by a private investigator,[3] and a creditor of theirs was located and provided free legal assistance to sue them.[4] Woods told a local paper, "The biggest concern I have is for my children. Obviously I worry about their safety. I can never let them answer the phone or the door."[3] Private investigator Eugene Ingram persuaded a creditor of Richard Woods' failed building firm to accept free help from Scientologists to pursue her money.[4] As a result, the family was bankrupted.[2][4][5]

Libel litigation

The Church spread leaflets calling her a "hate campaigner" around her East Grinstead neighbourhood and on the High Street.[2][6] Woods sued for libel, and in response the Church took out three libel suits against her.[2] In 1999, after six years of litigation, eventually reaching the High Court, the Church of Scientology admitted that the claims were untrue and paid damages and costs.[7][8] She told journalists that during the case she had been subjected to a "level of harassment that most people would find intolerable".[1][9]

See also


  1. ^ a b Davison, John (June 9, 1999). "Woman accused of hate campaign wins damages from Scientologists". The Independent. Independent News and Media. p. 14.
  2. ^ a b c d e Nicolova, Rossitsa (6 March 1998). "Scientology's Campaign Of Hate, By "Cult Busters"". The American. p. 5.
  3. ^ a b "Escape route from Scientology has never been busier". East Grinstead Courier. April 15, 1994.
  4. ^ a b c Driscoll, Margarette; Steven Haynes (January 1, 1997). "Hounded by the church of stars and hype". Sunday Times. Times Newspapers. p. 10.
  5. ^ Edwards, David (May 12, 2000). "Inside The Scientologists". The Argus. Brighton.
  6. ^ Steiner, Susie (June 9, 1999). "Scientologists pay £155,000 for 'hate' claim". The Times. p. 6.
  7. ^ Dyer, Clare (June 9, 1999). "Scientologists pay for libel". The Guardian. p. 11. Retrieved 2008-05-03.
  8. ^ "Cult pays £155,000 over hate campaign". Daily Mail. June 9, 1999. p. 32.
  9. ^ Palmer, Richard (June 9, 1999). "My victory joy after six year battle with cult". The Express. Northern and Shell Media Publications. p. 19.

External links

  • Scientology Apologises to Bonnie Woods, June 8, 1999, High Court of Justice
  • Interview with Bonnie Woods, April 13, 2008.
  • Bonnie Woods, archived news articles
  • Bonnie Woods: Former scientologist, former Sea Org staff member, archived news articles
  • How Scientology handles truth, Lermanet
  • Richard and Bonnie Woods, FACTnet
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