Lawrence Woodcraft Interview

Part Five

"Astra Leaves Scientology"

Video Interview - January 23, 2001


Transcript of Part Five


Lawrence: Astra was, like, 14 and then at 15, you know, she came to me one day and said, "Dad, I want to get married." And I said, "Are you out of your mind?" You know, and she said, "Will you give me permission?" So, I said, "No. I will not. I disagree with it." You know, she had been going out with this guy who was seven years older than her. And she had been caught kissing in the corridor and they said, "You have to get married." You know, she had been living in a dorm and then when you get married, you get your own room with your spouse. And so, it's like, everyone wants to get married. So, lots of kids at 15 will get married. But anyway, I said, "Absolutely not. I refuse my permission." So then her senior called me and said, "You know, you have to give permission. It's a good thing." You know, "She'll be more stable. She'll be happier." You know, "We're going to make her do special courses on marriage. And she'll understand what marriage is." You know, "And they have matching tone levels, which means, emotionally, they're well suited to each other." So they wore me down and then my daughter would, like, day after day, say, "Dad, come on. Give permission. Give permission. You know, I'm not really a 15 year old girl. I'm a thetan who's thousands of years old, you know? Give your permission. Give your permission." And then she said, "If you don't give your permission, I found out, you know, you and mom have joint custody in the divorce settlement. She will give permission." So, eventually, I said, "Okay. I can't stop it. I might as well give permission," which I did. But I never told my family back in England, you know? I was too embarrassed. They were, like, "You let your 15 year old daughter get married?" Like, "Have you lost your mind?" And, in fact, they did find out because my cousin was a flight attendant with British Airways and came and visited us and Astra showed up, you know. And she was very much a Sea Org Member and she's like, "Look! I'm married!" And my cousin said, "But you're…15!" And then my cousin flew back to England and told my sisters, my mother…I just can't tell you how embarrassing that was for me. It just…they were just freaked! You know, they promised me Astra will go to school. Astra will have medical coverage. Astra will, you know…she will only work a short week, you know. She would study. She would be in bed by ten. She will get time off…blah, blah, blah. So, she would come around and see me almost kind of secretively, like on a Friday morning or something. She would sneak around for an hour and, like, "Hi, Dad. I love you but I've got to go." She'd be wearing her uniform. And I would say, "Astra, how's school?" And she'd go, "Fine." "What are you learning? How are you math?" You know, "Tell me about algebra." "It's fine." You know, "What about history? Do you know any history?" "No, but we're going to." Like this. And then she'd say, "Dad, you really need to get back on course. You really need more auditing. When are you going to go back on course? Come on!" And I'd go, "Astra, you know, I've got debts, credit cards…but one day, I'll be back. You know…in a few months." And she'd go, "Well, you really need to be back on course," you know. And then I'd see her again. It would be the same thing over and over and over. And I formed in my own mind that she wasn't happy. I knew she wasn't happy as a parent knows his child. You know, I would give her money and one time she said to me, "Dad, I want to open a savings account," you know, "will you start it off for me?" And I was…and she said, "If you put $300.00 in," you know, "it will pay interest." And I said, "Astra, that is commendable, you know? You should have a little cushion…" And she said "I won't tell anyone about it. I'll just have $300.00." And I gave her 300 bucks and she opened her own savings account. So, I thought, "Cool." You know…I like her to have…and I bought her a car, an old used car so she had a little independence. She could…that was the only way she could come and see me 'cause I lived, you know, ten miles from the Org. So, but I knew she wasn't happy. So then…and I knew, you know, I'm thinking my daughter…this is…Zoe is another whole issue. But Astra I knew wasn't happy. She was 15. She was married. I would see her husband. We would never talk, you know? We would go out for a meal but we would never talk. So then, my mother died in England in, like, 1997. And they said, "You've got to come for the funeral," you know, "and you must bring Astra. You must bring Astra." You know, "We want to see her." So, I told Astra her grandmother had died and Astra was like, "I want to come! I want to come! I want to come to England!" And they said, "No." You know, "It's just a funeral." And she's like, but…you become skillful in Scientology of how to twist things around. And so she said, you know, "If I don't go to England…all of my relatives in England want me to come for this funeral and they are going to be very upset. And it's going to give them a bad opinion of Scientology. And I don't know how to handle it." And that…they don't want that. They don't like that. It's what they call, like, a PR flap.

Stacy: Right.

Lawrence: So they gave her permission to come, which is, like, to me, it's like a miracle. So at the back of my mind, I'm thinking, "We're going to go to England," you know, "it's for a sad occasion. It's for a funeral but we're going to stay with my sister. She's got a big house. They've got their own real estate business. She's got cousins there she's never seen. She's got aunts, uncles." So we went to England. Astra is all excited. And…oh, it's a sad occasion. The first day was the funeral. But then, (non-interview dialogue) we had the greatest time, you know? We go around, we see all the cousins. We go to dinner. We have a blast! And I knew Astra was like, "Oh my God! We're going to dinner? Now I've got a bed?" I could tell something was going in her mind. She was having, like, family. She was, like…she was getting close to my sister. Anyway, so I knew that I had planted the seeds of doubt in her mind.

Stacy: Why are you so sad?

Lawrence: Because there was, like, a big change in her, you know? She was suddenly from, like, "Dad, you need to get on course! Dad, you need to be doing more Scientology." She's like, "Oh! My aunt's so cool! England is beautiful!" Like, England…You know, we went there in the fall. She said, "England…I didn't know London was such a pretty city. I didn't know the countryside, the house, the cars, my cousins, the restaurants!" She's going, "I didn't know it was so much fun to go bowling. I didn't know it was so much fun!" And I'm going, "Yeah, you know, there's a whole world out there, Astra." And she's going, "All my cousins are at college and the university and I'm so stupid. I don't know anything." And I'm going, "What? I thought you were going to school?" And she's going, "No. I don't know anything. I have no education." And I'm going, "Astra! I thought you were going to school!" "No. I never went to school!" "What?!"

Stacy: You didn't know?

Lawrence: I didn't know. And she…I said, "Astra, why didn't you tell me?" She said, "I was told not to." And anyway, this kid, in front of my eyes, sees that there's a whole world…

Stacy: It's really a battle for her mind, isn't it?

Lawrence: Yeah. And, you know, so I knew that I had succeeded in this trip. I had, like, I knew that I had gotten through. So, anyway, she comes back and she's, like, you know, she is so unhappy to go back into that Organization. She's so unhappy. And she's different. She's a different person, you know? She's not pushing me, "Dad, go on course. Dad, you need to get your ethics in." She's not barking at me. And then, something happens in Scientology…she's demoted and she's really beginning to hate it, I can tell. But I had no idea of what was really going on. I knew my daughter was unhappy, as a father would. I had no idea and then, like, she comes to stay with me one night. She's, like, she's got the $300.00 in her savings account. This is difficult for me. I would say, like, roughly four months later, she sneaks to my house, she stays the night, we go to the movies, you know. And then, the next morning she leaves but she's not wearing her uniform. And I'm thinking, "that's weird. She's wearing a pair of jeans and a shirt." Anyway, whatever…she leaves and then her organization starts calling me, "Where's Astra?"

Stacy: Oh.

Lawrence: And it's lashing with rain outside. It's just a real bad storm and I'm going, "Oh my God! She's had an accident! You know, she never made it in her car." And I say, "Well, let's wait a few minutes, you know. She might have just been held up in the traffic in the rain." And they call back, "No. She's not here." And I go, "Oh my God!" So, I'm going…I'm driving down the freeway. I'm looking for her-no sign. I get back…Oh, no…I go into the Organization and they go, you know, "Tell us about Astra." I speak to the Chief of Security, a guy called Jeff Porter. And he said, "What's going on?" I said, "What is going on? I think she's been car jacked," like this. "Call the police!" And he says, "Well, how come she was at your house?" I said, "Well, we…she had the day off. We went to the movies." And he's going, "Oh. We didn't think she was with you. She told us she was with a friend." And I go, "So, look! Who cares what you think? Let's call the cops! My daughter has been kidnapped!" You know, I'm freaking! I'm just freaking! And he said, "Well, had you given her any money?" I said, "Yeah," you know, "she had a savings account." He said, "You're not supposed to give her money." I said, "Who says? I can give my kid money!" (laughs) And I said, "Come on! Let's call the…for Christ sake, let's start up…this is L.A., you know? Like car jack city. She's vanished off the face of the earth!" Her mother's been called and then he said, "Did anything weird happen on your day off?" And I said…he said, "Did she want to buy anything?" I said, "Yeah. We went into a department store and she said she wanted to buy a suitcase because you were sending her out on a mission to recruit people." He said, "There was no mission to recruit people." He said, "She's blown." He said, "Go back to your house and find her passport," because I kept her passport in my office, you know, safe in a drawer. So, I went back. Her passport had gone. So then I go back down and he said, "You know," he said, "she's blown," he said, "but don't worry. We'll get her back."

Stacy: What were you thinking?

Lawrence: I was, like, "Oh my God!" And, you know, this is…I'm…you know, let's go search for her but where do we look? You know, where has she gone? And I'm thinking, "Surely, she's going to call me. She's going to call me." And her mother's on the phone to me, "Where's she gone?" And then Jeff Porter suddenly gets very accusative, you know? He said, "You know, you haven't been on course in years. And you are disaffected. She spent the day with you. You gave her the money. You gave her a passport. You bought her a suitcase to take her stuff." He said, "Come on. Cough up the goods." And I'm, like, "You don't know what you're talking about. I had no knowledge of this. Can't you see I'm freaked out?" You know, I'm thinking she's carjacked, kidnapped. And he's going, you know, "We hold you responsible." And I'm going, "You know, much as I would love to get her out," and I'm, like, saying stuff now, like, I'm crossing the line. I said, you know, "in these circumstances," you know, "I didn't actually know that she was doing this." And he said, "Come on!" He said, "A few months ago, you took her to England. What did you tell her? What did you tell her?" So, I'm, like, "Jeff, I told her nothing." I said, "But, you know, she got very close to my sister." They say, you know, "Well, we're going to go to the airport. We're going to, like, track her down and don't you worry," you know. So anyway, her brother finds her at the airport, tries to stop her getting on the plane and finds out at this point that she is pregnant. So, like, like I am, just, like, "My kid's pregnant?!" And, like, so I go back in to see Jeff Porter and I go, you know, like, "I'm finding out stuff here that's freaking me out, Jeff!" You know, you tell me you're looking after my daughter, you know? Do you call this looking after her? She's vanished. She's pregnant. Yet, the day before, you think she's on post and perfectly happy? You're supposed to understand communication. You're supposed to know what's going on! You know nothing about this kid! You don't even know she's pregnant?!" And, like, I'm just staggered. And he, like, he says, "Well, you're holding up this whole process. And she's only blown because of bad things she's done." And I'm going, "Jeff! She's a kid! She's pregnant!" I said, "The Sea Org needs to look at what's going on!" You know, like, "What have you done to this kid to make her take off on a plane to England?" So, anyway, you know, all the while I'm slipping into their bad books and I'm not holding back, man! I'm just mad as hell, you know? 'Cause, like, what have they done to my kid? I've got to pick up the pieces here. So, I call my sister in England and I say, you know, "My daughter is," it's like 5:00 in the morning. I say, "My daughter is on her way." (laughs) "Could you please go to the airport and pick her up?" And then, Leslie says…Leslie calls me and says, "Don't worry. We're going to have her met by people from Saint Hill." And I say, "Oh, no you're not." I said, "You people have screwed up with my kid. I don't know what her state of mind is. Is she suicidal? Is she desperate?" I said, "She's flown to England to get away from you people." You know, "My sister is going to meet her." And I said, you know, "If she comes…she knows the game…if she comes, you know, at Heathrow and there are people from Saint Hill waiting for her in uniform, like idiots," I'm not holding back at this point, you know, "she's going to run." I said, "And I don't know…she already vanished, you know, and I'm not going to…you are not going to do that. I'm going to have my sister meet her." So then, the whole thing transpired that my sister meets here. There's no one from Saint Hill to grab her. And then she goes and stays with my sister. And then I'm on the phone with her every day, you know. And she's eating better food. She stops throwing up. And my sister is, like, after a couple of weeks, like, "Larry, what are you going to do about this? Because, you know, we can't have her living here indefinitely. She can't really have the baby here." The Org is calling her, like, her mother is calling her day and night, day and night. My sister is going nuts! And she doesn't even understand. She has no idea of what's going on. She's, like, "Larry, you know, I'm your sister. I love you and I love Astra. You better work this out, man." Like, so, I had to scheme. I said, "Astra," you know, "I'm going to find a hospital here," you know, "find out how much it costs to have a baby in L.A., arrange the whole medical deal." And then, you know, "You can fly back to L.A. in secret and stay with me." I said, but, like, at some point because I knew if she just blew and didn't handle it, eventually she would be declared a Suppressive Person, pregnant or not. I said, "You're going to fly back to Los Angeles."

Stacy: And what was wrong with that if she got declared?

Lawrence: Well, then, her mother would be in the Sea Organization. Her brother would be in the Sea Organization. Her grandmother would be in the Sea Organization. They were getting ready to declare Astra because she caused them so much trouble and she would never be able to speak to her mother again or, you know, her brother or her grandmother…

Stacy: Or her sister.

Lawrence: Her sister, yeah. So, I felt this is a mess, you know. It's coming down to me to handle it. So, I said, "Astra, I'll arrange with the hospital for you to have the baby here in L.A. You fly here in secret. You can just come to my house and no one will know you're there and you can chill out. And then, when you're ready, you can go in and do what they call routing out. Be in good standing. Have the baby."

Stacy: What did she say?

Lawrence: So, she, after I worked her and worked her on it, she said, 'cause she wanted to have the baby in England, you know, with the National Health Service. But I knew that wasn't going to work. So, eventually, she said yes. And so she flew back. I met her at LAX. And she came back to my house. She didn't know they were there for, like, two weeks while she chilled out.

Stacy: They didn't know she was there, you mean?

Lawrence: Yeah. They didn't know she was there. They were calling me saying, you know, "You're a scumbag." And Astra was standing there. And they were trying to fax us stuff in England and call her in England. My sister would say, "She's gone for a walk. Oh, she's sleeping. She's pregnant. She's tired." They were calling. Then they would call me, "Why can't your sister…call your sister and tell her we want to speak to her!" I said, "My sister is not a Scientologist." It was such a mess!

Stacy: It's just relentless!

Lawrence: It was such mess! So, anyway then Astra was back at my house saying, "I can't face them! I can't go in and speak to them! They're going to tell me I'm scum! All my friends are going to be against me!" And I said, "Astra," you know, "it's only words," you know? Like, "you are…I love you. You are who you are." You know, no words can hurt you, you know? They can call you what they like but Astra, you know, at the end of the day, does it matter? You know, they can think of you as scum. If they're not your friends any longer, they never were your friends, you know? Like, you've got your whole life ahead of you…

Stacy: And you're just trying to…

Lawrence: I'm trying to build her up.

Stacy: Build her up so that she…

Lawrence: She's so scared of going back in…

Stacy: …won't lose her. So that she won't lose her mother and sister.

Lawrence: Exactly. Yeah. I'm really trying to act, you know, what I think of her interest at the time. Yeah.

Stacy: Did you explain that to her?

Lawrence: Yes.

Stacy: Did you talk to her about that?

Lawrence: Yeah. And she didn't want to be cut off from her mother. At this point, she wanted to leave the Sea Organization but she wanted to continue as a Scientologist. So, eventually, I built her up and one day, she just said, "That's it. I'm going in." So, I'm still kind of freaked out, like, "Okay." So, I drop her over there. And then she…it takes a month, you know. And eventually, she leaves. She signs away her papers and she's free. And she comes home one day in…she goes back in, like, April '98 and she comes back in May one day. And she's, like, walks in the door, "I'm free! I'm done with them!" Like, and she's like, "Oh man! What a mood is she in!" And we, like, get out and celebrate and then, imMediately, we think, "Now, what do we do about Zoë?"

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