The Sun – Sharone Stainforth Speaks

Katie is right to be scared of Suri being raised in Scientology cult

Says sect victim Sharone Stainforth

Published in the Sun on 4th July 2012
SHARONE STAINFORTH’S bizarre childhood steeped in Scientology is summed up by a snap of her saluting as she sings.

The image was taken just five years before she attempted suicide aged 15.

Sharone was indoctrinated aged six when her father Michael left his shoe shop business in Yorkshire to work at the cult’s UK HQ, Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

Actress Katie Holmes’ split from Tom Cruise — and her desperate attempt to stop her six-year-old daughter Suri from being scrutinised by the shadowy Sea Organisation division of the sect — has struck a chord with Sharone.

She was just ten when she signed a billion-year contract to join Sea Org. She ended up working on board the Scientology administration ship Apollo, which travelled the world.

There she became a Commodore’s Messenger, working for the cult’s notorious founder L Ron Hubbard, who she was singing to in the grainy black and white photograph.

Sharone is the little girl in the centre

She was subjected to terrible punishments, forced to work late into the night and her physical and mental health suffered. She feels that Scientology drove her to try killing herself. Now, Sharone, a 55-year-old pub manager from Hastings, East Sussex, desperately hopes that Katie gets out along with Suri before it is too late.

She said: “Because of my past I feel very strongly about bringing a child up in Scientology. They took my childhood and left me in a terrible mess. When I attempted suicide it was because I couldn’t deal with things any longer, directly related to years of misery in Scientology. Thankfully, I was unsuccessful and got help to overcome my problems.

“Katie should be frightened to raise Suri in the cult because it can be extremely detrimental to your wellbeing.

“The belief system promotes a type of reincarnation, meaning kids are effectively adults who’ve lived before, in small bodies. So a child is a concept that doesn’t really exist in Scientology.

“Aboard Apollo, birthdays went unmarked, there was no time for families to spend together and play time was non-existent. I wanted love but in that environment there isn’t much of it.”

Sharone, who now has two grown-up children of her own, spoke out at a conference for former Scientologists held at the weekend in Dublin.

She broke down as she shared the shocking details of her lost childhood.

While the Apollo was docked in Corfu, she was punished for trying to talk to a Greek boy — and locked in a darkened storeroom with no bed or blankets for several days.

Without medical or dental care on board, she would later need 17 fillings to repair her damaged teeth.

From the age of 12, Sharone refused to continue with Scientology and moved back to live with relatives in the UK. She said: “Scientology is no place for a child. I remember a man on board Apollo being punished by pushing a peanut around the deck with his nose.

“I would sit outside L Ron Hubbard’s office for hours on end waiting to be given something to do. The shouting that went on between adults on the other side of the door was horrendous. People were really abused beyond belief.

“On one occasion I had to bathe L Ron Hubbard’s feet in the morning.

“Looking back, I am not comfortable with the thought I was made to do such a thing as a young girl. No wonder Katie appears to want out.

“From the day she married Tom Cruise I watched her change. I saw footage of her in an International Association of Scientologists video and she was clapping maniacally along with the head of the church, David Miscavige, who is Tom Cruise’s best friend.

“But behind her eyes there was something very different going in. I remember thinking, ‘Please Katie, you must see the truth.’ For the sake of herself and little Suri, I really hope she has.

“I hate the Church of Scientology — every aspect of it. I do so because of my ruined childhood.”

In the 300-strong (ExScnEire Ed: Not a hope. 100 max maybe, but not 300.) audience at the conference were members of the modern activist group Anonymous, wearing Guy Fawkes masks. They are twenty and thirtysomethings from the UK, Ireland, France, Germany and the US.

One said: “Our opposition to Scientology started when the church tried to remove a video of Tom Cruise being interviewed about his faith from the web in 2008.

“We are against not only internet censorship but the abuses of the Church of Scientology. They should fear us.”

Tory Christman, a Scientologist for 30 years, now campaigns tirelessly against the church. The 65-year-old, from Burbank, California, said: “When I left Scientology, my husband left me. We were married for 27 years. My door remains open to this day.

“I am not surprised Tom and Katie are divorcing. I never thought they were happy together for a minute…

“Now I feel really uncomfortable with the way the cult uses and exploits celebrities. Perhaps Katie Holmes has had enough of all that.”

Jamie DeWolf’s great-grandfather was L Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986.

But the 34-year-old from Oakland, California, has little time for his great-grandfather’s belief system.

He said: “I think conferences like this are hugely important. This whole thing was made up. It materialised out of thin air. But the impact it has on people’s lives is no fairy tale.”


THE UK headquarters of the Church of Scientology is Saint Hill Manor, an 18th Century stately home in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

The cult’s founder, American science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, lived and worked there between 1959 and 1966.

Two years after Hubbard’s bestseller, Dianetics, was published in 1950, the Dianetics Foundation of Great Britain was set up. It later became the Hubbard Association of Scientologists.

The cult claims to have 123,000 UK members.

Near the HQ, private Greenfields School in Forest Row promotes Hubbard’s teachings and is supported by many British Scientologist families.

They also have a nearby drug treatment wing called Narconon in St Leonards.

The church is on a list of organisations which receives privileged information from the Metropolitan Police about security in the event of crisis.

Scientology is not recognised as an official religion but is exempt from VAT as a not-for-profit organisation.


STEPHEN, 48, is a computer programmer from East Grinstead, West Sussex. He says:

“I was a 22-year-old student and at a low point after failing some exams when Scientology took over my life.

It started with a conversation with someone on the street in Brighton and it led to me spending around £100,000 on Scientology courses. That is not a lot compared with what some have spent.

I was a member for 22 years and remember things starting to unravel three years before I left.

I had just come out of an auditing session — when Scientologists are guided through questions about their lives — and felt absolutely awful.

Near me a huge truck was reversing. I thought how easy it would be to lie under the wheels and end it all. Then I realised what I was thinking.

I joined Scientology because it is supposed to make you Superman, capable of rising to unimaginable heights. Instead, I was having suicidal thoughts. I left Scientology permanently in 2008.

I worked while I was a Scientologist but was expected to attend five nights a week from 7pm to 10pm.

That is a lot of time over a 22-year period.

I wish now I’d learned to fly or travelled and focused on something more uplifting.

They were the best years of my life but I can’t get them back.

I feel a real sense of betrayal after giving everything I had.

When you trust someone so completely and then realise you’ve been conned and used, well, that hurts.”


PETE, 57, a former postman from Merseyside, says:

“I was approached about Scientology in Sunderland. I was attracted not only by the idea of a religion that would make my life better but also the money.

They told me if I came on as staff I would earn £200 a week.

That was a lot of money in the late Eighties and as I wasn’t doing much else, I signed up.

In my three years working in Sunderland I don’t think I got £200 the whole time.

I ended up selling my house to see myself through all the training and courses.

Scientology is made up of various hierarchies and I was part of Outer Org Staff, which is like the executive division.

I proved very good at getting new members and selling courses, so eventually I was given my own mission in Kendal, Cumbria.

Around 1994 my figures had plummeted and I left to live in Ireland but still considered myself a Scientologist.

Four years ago I had a penny-dropping moment and realised I’d been duped and that everything I once believed was rubbish.

I burned all my Scientology books on a bonfire and now campaign against this terrible con.

I’m not angry, but I won’t give up until everyone in the church is out.”



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