Scientology Critical Information Directory

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Karen Pressley (formerly Karen Schless Pressley)

Former scientologist, left after 16 years, 9 years as staff member.
Author of a book titled Escaping Scientology.
Karen Pressley's web site

«Tom [Cruise] is just a 'public Scientologist.' I worked there on the inside. I saw the other side that Tom doesn't see.» — Karen Pressley in The Sunday Paper

Karen Pressley (as of February 2008): "The saga of publishing Karen's Scientology story"

In 2006, I was contracted by New Hope Publishers (Birmingham, AL) to write my story in an updated version of my earlier manuscript. I completed the book titled Escaping Scientology: An Insider's True Story. This book went into editorial production; the cover was designed and placed in for pre-sale targeted for February 2007 release. According to the New Hope sales manager, the book was their #1 requested item in their winter catalog of pre-sales.

Evidently, the Church of Scientology once again felt too threatened by what could be exposed in this book to allow this story to make it into public hands. Elliott Abelson, Chief Legal Counsel for CSI, exerted enough influence over the publisher into believing they should not release the book. He lied to the New Hope publisher by saying that I had signed a covenant bond of confidentiality that, if violated, would make me culpable for a $500,000 fine, to which the publisher would be accountable. However, I had never signed such a bond! His claim was fabricated. I attested this to the publisher's legal department. Abelson's threat was nothing but a fabrication used to instill fear in the publisher and suppress the release of the book. [...]

St. Petersburg Times (June 2006): "SP profiles" by Robert Farley

Karen Pressley of Atlanta and her then-husband Peter Schless - a musician and composer who wrote the hit song On the Wings of Love - became Scientologists and later joined staff. Pressley mostly worked for the church's international organization in Los Angeles, but she spent six months in Clearwater. She said she designed the new uniforms still worn by staffers today.

Pressley left Scientology in 1998 and refused to come back for sec checks. She has publicly denounced "substandard" child care at church facilities around the world and criticized the church for the "condition of poverty" that staffers lived in. After she left the church, her husband "faithfully applied the rule (of disconnection)," she said.

She calls the suppressive person declare "a form of psychological terrorism. It obliterates families. ... People who leave are afraid to talk about Scientology."

MSNBC (Mat 2006): "Cruise control" by Hoda Kotb

In my mission to find out if Cruise is in control— or out of control— I met former Scientologist Karen Pressley.  She says she used to work full time at the church’s exclusive celebrity center in Hollywood. Her job she says: recruiting the stars.

Karen Pressley: We were put under incredible duress actually, to recruit celebrities.

Kotb: Was there a list?

Pressley: Actually there was. Young actors that were really making it in film at the time. I think were our biggest priorities.

Los Angeles Times (December 2005): "At Inland Base, Scientologists Trained Top Gun" by Claire Hoffman and Kim Christensen

She said she and her ex-husband shared a two-bedroom unit with another couple and were not allowed to make personal phone calls. Schless Pressley said she left the church because of what she alleged were invasions of members' privacy and other deprivations — a claim church officials say is unfounded.

Baptist Press News (August 2005): "After spending half of her life in Scientology, she found truth & freedom in Jesus Christ"

Karen Pressley has heard it all before.

The talk of space aliens having come to earth a millennia ago, the authoritative worldview, the buffed movie star glibly handing out solutions to personal conflicts.

Movie star Tom Cruise may be spouting the truth according to the Church of Scientology these days, but Pressley has lived in that world longer than Cruise and knows firsthand the nightmare it entails.

Sunday Paper (July 2005): "It stars Tom Cruise, but this is no movie: One Atlanta woman’s Scientology adventure" by Jennifer Smith and Stephanie Ramage

Karen and Peter Schless were living in Los Angeles when Peter wrote the hit single "On the Wings of Love" with Jeffrey Osborne in 1982. The success catapulted the Schlesses onto the radar of Hollywood’s sizeable Scientology community and they became members of the religion that same year. The idea, according to Karen, was that they would recruit celebrities for the group. By 1989 they were living at the Church of Scientology’s desert compound outside L.A., training others in its doctrines, taking courses themselves, and performing landscaping duties for $45 a week. Almost 10 years later, with the help of a friend, Karen “escaped”—her word for it—from the compound and flew home to Atlanta. She never spoke with her husband again. Their divorce was executed via mail. She had been, in the terminology of Scientology, “disconnected”—cut off because she had rebelled.