Ex-Scientologist Astra Woodcraft recalls her terror inside the clutches of the church

California mom tells News she was fondled and assaulted. To escape, she got pregnant knowing secretive Sea Org rules to choose between an abortion or leaving the church

New York Daily News/July 8, 2012

At the tender age of 14, she promised to serve Scientology for 1 billion years.

A year later — with parental consent — Astra Woodcraft was in Las Vegas getting married to a 21-year-old man who also belonged to the church.

The picture of happiness soon began to shatter, as she tried to find her way in L. Ron Hubbard's vision of the world. She says she was fondled, scolded for attending a funeral and assaulted by a security guard.

Woodcraft, then 19, finally had enough and concocted an escape plan. She got pregnant, knowing the rules of Scientology's secretive Sea Org would require her to have an abortion or leave the church.

"I was miserable, and it seemed like there was no other way out," she told the Daily News. "If you simply said you wanted to leave, you had to go through a horrible year-long process. At the end, you still might be labeled suppressive and cut off from everyone you know."

The Los Angeles woman recalled that everyone in the church assumed she would terminate the pregnancy and stay with the church.

"I remember one (superior) asking why I wasn't in my uniform," she told the Daily News. "I told him I was leaving because I was pregnant. He replied, 'Oh, too late for an abortion?'"

Even her husband abandoned her, choosing the church over his wife and unborn child. "You were just expected to have an abortion. They tried to coerce you," she said.

Woodcraft ran off to stay with relatives in England. Her mother, a member of the Church of Scientology, called repeatedly, urging her to abort.

Her now-ex-husband has severed ties completely and has seen their 13-year-old daughter, Kate, only once. Looking back, Woodcraft, 33, said she isn't bitter because she now has her beautiful daughter. The teen recently graduated from middle school.

"She's just a wonderful girl. It's been cathartic for me to raise her in a stable environment with a real education," Woodcraft told The News.

The California mom is still haunted by memories of her Scientology upbringing. She would never even think of exposing her daughter to it.

She hated the nonstop work schedule that practically defined the controversial church's militarylike management group Sea Org, but she figured things would improve as she rose up the ranks. Even after becoming a teen bride in 1993, she and her newlywed husband were housed in cramped quarters with no hot water and virtually no days off.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.