Katie Holmes ended marriage 'amid fears Tom Cruise planned to send Suri away to hardcore Scientology organisation Sea Org'


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•Katie hires high-profile lawyers suggesting she won't settle for £10 million promised in pre-nup
•Katie fears she is being followed by members of the Church of Scientology
•Cruises desire to immerse six-year-old Suri into the church is 'terrifying' her
•Saving Suri from Scientology is said to be the main reason behind divorce

By Paul Scott and Donna Mcconnell

Katie Holmes's fears that daughter Suri was set to be inducted into a hardcore Scientology organisation were the driving force behind the end of her marriage to Hollywood star Tom Cruise.

The actress was allegedly convinced husband Tom Cruise was planning to send Suri, six, away to Sea Organisation - an association of Scientologists established in 1968 by L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer and founder of Scientology.

Sea Org, as it is known, is where the highest levels of Scientology are taught and children as young as five can be sent to live there - without their parents.

Fears: Katie Holmes seen here with Tom Cruise in April, feared the actor planned to send Suri away to a hardcore Scientology organisation

The company has been often compared to a boot camp and several ex-Scientologists (including Oscar winner Paul Haggis) have been outspoken against its military-like conditions.

Initially created at sea, maritime customs and traditions persist today even in the land-based branches of the organization.

It claims to act as goodwill representatives and administrators of Scientology with the stated purpose to 'get ethics in on the planet.' And a source told website TMZ that Cruise is a big fan.

Pledge: Katie felt the only way to stop Suri being shipped off was to end their marriage, the six-year-old in seen here with brother Connor

The website claims that Katie and Tom had been arguing over Suri's indoctrination into Scientology -- and it seems that for Katie talk of her six-year-old joining Sea Org was the final straw.

The huge Scientology boat The Freewinds that was the location of Cruise's infamous birthday party in 2004, is entirely staffed by Sea Org members and the highest levels of Scientology are taught on the ship.

According to the official Scientology website, members of Sea Org sign 'a one-billion-year pledge to symbolize their eternal commitment to the religion and it is still signed by all members today.'

When Holmes and Cruise first got together in 2005, a prominent Scientologist who had been with the Sea Org since 1994 Jessica Rodriguez was transferred and became Katie's assistant/Scientology chaperone.

High flyer: Tom Cruise seen leaving Reykjavik airport in a helicopter and heading to his film set in Iceland after news of the divorce broke

Keen: The actor is said to be a keen advocate for the Sea Organization and Katie is said to have rowed with him over plans to send Suri

Feshbach, in one of Katie's first interviews after getting together with Cruise, was described by a writer for W magazine as 'cold-eyed' and 'a third-wheel.'

Katie felt the only way to save Suri from being shipped off to Sea Org was to file for divorce and seek sole legal custody.

Tom's devotion to the shadowy church of Scientology is set to come under scrutiny as, according to New York legal sources, Cruise’s religious beliefs will be central in the divorce battle.

‘There is no way her advisers will not be putting Scientology at the very core of this divorce,’ says Mike Paul, a prominent New York crisis manager who counsels celebrities on how to handle high-profile court cases.

The heart of the divorce is nothing less than the battle for the soul of Cruise and Holmes’ daughter Suri.

‘The only possible reason for Katie to push for this is that she fears for the emotional wellbeing of her daughter,’ says Mike Paul.

‘Suri is at an age where she will be becoming more and more involved with the church and Katie clearly wants to make the break before her daughter is dragged into Scientology.’

In fact, Suri is understood to have been enrolled in Scientology-based school programmes by her father, which is said to ‘terrify’ Holmes.

Cruise’s desire to immerse his daughter in Scientology is believed to have brought about a culture clash of religions with Katie, who was raised a devout Roman Catholic.

Indeed, such is the actress’s concern over a backlash from the sect that she is convinced rogue elements from the church have been monitoring her movements.

The battle has begun: Suri is at the centre of her parents' bitter divorce

On Tuesday, a worried Katie called police to the New York apartment where she is living with Suri after spotting two mysterious men in a black Mercedes SUV parked outside the door.

Katie, who looks strained and gaunt, was said to be convinced they were not members of the paparazzi who sell footage of her and her daughter to American celebrity websites, but Scientology operatives. Apparently, neither had a camera.

According to celebrity website TMZ, the actress also believes she has been followed when she leaves the apartment in the fashionable East Village district.

In addition to the Mercedes, a white Cadillac has also been spotted regularly outside the apartment.

Meanwhile, others who have quit the church of Scientology say it goes out of its way to discredit and intimidate former members.

Sam Domingo, 45, a British mother of three who was married to the son of opera star Placido Domingo, says her life was made hell when she split from her husband and left Scientology three years ago.

'Quite happy to wreck families': The Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International in Los Angeles, California

Stakeout: Photos have emerged of two vehicles Katie is convinced are from the church, and are people monitoring her movements

‘They are ruthless and quite happy to wreck families,’ says Miss Domingo, who joined the cult at 21.

My former husband was told to disconnect from me — cut me out of his life completely — and to contact our children only through a lawyer.

‘For married couples thinking of splitting up, they make you confess all the things you have done wrong to each other. It’s incredibly intense and personal. But when I left they made public the information they had got on me and my husband.’

Meanwhile, there is increasing evidence that far from disintegrating only recently, the Cruises’ marriage has been at best semi-detached for at least three years.

While he has remained at the family’s £22 million home in Beverly Hills when he is not filming, she has spent much of her time since 2009 on the opposite side of America.

Katie has been buying up other apartments in the 11-storey Manhattan apartment block where Tom has owned a flat since 1985 to enable her to build a gym and quarters for her security staff.

She has also enrolled Suri in a Catholic school in the city and is said to have removed all of her belongings from their Los Angeles home.

This makes something of a mockery of the increasingly hollow protestations that all was well in the marriage — not to mention those awkward hand-holding pictures of the couple taken just two weeks ago in Iceland where Tom is filming the action movie Oblivion.

The fact she has chosen to remain in New York is significant, not least because its courts tend to order children to remain with one parent in custody disputes, while those in California favour joint custody.

But her supporters say she has also felt it necessary to distance herself — and, crucially, Suri — from Scientology and members of the Cruise clan who are as devoted as he is to its strange teachings.

Increasingly, Suri is reaching the age when children from Scientology families begin their indoctrination process, which involves ‘auditing’ — being connected to a crude lie detector called an e-meter and having to tell your deepest and darkest secrets to sect staff.

Suri Cruise and Tom Cruise at Friars Club Entertainment Icon Award presentation, inside, Waldorf Astoria Ballroom, New York

One of the principle reasons behind the split, say Holmes’s circle, has been her growing scepticism towards Scientology, which was founded by Fifties sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard, who taught his disciples that humans are descended from space aliens called Thetans.

To begin with, Katie played the dutiful convert. The couple had a lavish Scientology wedding in Rome in November 2006 at which the church’s leader David Miscavige was Cruise’s best man — he was even said to have accompanied the couple on honeymoon.

Six months earlier, Katie had given birth to Suri amid rumours she had gone through a ‘silent birth’ (Scientologists insist mothers should not scream or shout out in pain during labour in order for babies to be born in a calm environment).

And for anyone who imagines such tales are merely colourful myths, Kelly Preston, the wife of fellow celebrity Scientologist John Travolta, publicly admits she went through a silent birth with their son Benjamin in 2010.

But within a year of Tom and Katie’s wedding, which had received the blessing of the church’s hierarchy, the marriage was in trouble, with Miss Holmes having doubts about the sect’s all-consuming influence over her life.

In 2007, she stood up for herself and insisted on sacking her Scientology-hired ‘spiritual minder’ Jessica Rodriguez, who was tasked with accompanying the actress 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and sitting in on interviews she gave about her marriage.

Even so, one former Scientologist, who was employed at its head- quarters in Clearwater, Florida, told me yesterday that around the same time Miscavige persuaded Katie to attend a Scientology boot camp at the organisation’s Gold Base centre in Hemet, California, which is used for those having doubts about their faith.

At the 700-acre property, disciples are expected to exist on little food or sleep and detox by drinking vinegar mixed with calcium and magnesium.

They are also required to go through intense ‘auditing’ sessions. The process is supposed to clear the mind of ‘engrams’, the Scientology term for painful experiences that block spiritual growth.

But throughout the marriage, Cruise’s attempts to persuade his much younger wife to submit fully to the teachings of the church have met with resistance.

In 2008, two of the most influential figures in Tom’s circle, his mother Mary Lee and sister Cass — both devout Scientologists — mysteriously moved out of Cruise’s sprawling LA compound.

Tom put them up temporarily in an apartment at a Scientology-owned building on Hollywood Boulevard, which he largely funded through donations totalling millions of dollars.

At the time, Cruise’s PR team insisted Katie had not thrown them out, but rumours were already rife that tensions with her in-laws had reached breaking point.

Likewise, reliable sources in the U.S. were privately speaking of tensions between the Mission Impossible actor and Katie’s Catholic mother Kathy and lawyer father Martin, from whom she is said to have sought advice over the divorce.

Kelly Preston, wife of John Travolta, has admitted that she was completely silent during the birth of the couple's son Benjamin in 2010, all in accordance with the Church of Scientology

Increasingly, the salons of Beverly Hills and Bel Air have been full of talk of Cruise’s controlling ways, which are said to have extended to authorising acting roles for Katie — who found fame in the TV series Dawson’s Creek — as well as his insistence she should remain pale-skinned, like his second wife Nicole Kidman.

And the couple spent ever longer apart, though officially it was claimed she had begun spending time in Manhattan only for work after appearing in the Arthur Miller play All My Sons on Broadway in 2008.

Throughout, Cruise — who is 50 tomorrow — has publicly done his best to paint an unlikely picture of domestic bliss. As recently as two weeks ago, he was gushing about how lucky he was to be married, speaking at a Friars Club awards ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

Significantly, however, while Suri accompanied her father to the event on one of his infrequent trips to New York, Katie chose to be nearly 7,000 miles away on business in Beijing.

Cruise had seen his career dip temporarily in the embarrassing wake of his ‘jumping on the couch’ moment, when he excitedly hopped up and down on a TV sofa professing his love for Katie, his then girlfriend, while being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in 2005.

But he has spent much of the last two years on location in such far-flung places as Dubai, Vancouver and Cadiz shooting the movies Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and Knight And Day with Cameron Diaz.

Quietly, Cruise’s family, particularly his sister Cass — who home-schooled Isabella, 19, and 17-year-old Connor, the children the actor adopted with Nicole Kidman — have begun, say U.S. sources, to exert a greater influence on the upbringing of Suri during the time she spends with her father.

The famous cover of Vanity Fair where Tom Cruise Katie Holmes first presented Suri to the world

Miss Kidman has blamed their children’s induction into Scientology for her long-distance relationship with them following her divorce from Tom in 2001. Clearly Miss Holmes does not plan on suffering the same fate with Suri.

An indication that Katie is prepared to play hardball from the outset comes in the guise of the colourful Allan Mayefsky.

The 58-year-old Harvard graduate was one of the principle legal players in the messy divorce of model and actress Christie Brinkley and her husband Peter Cook, which has become notorious as one of the most bitter of Hollywood break-ups.

New York-based Mr Mayefsky is a shrewd operator who has a habit of airing the grievances of his clients in front of the media.

He is known for demanding an even split of proceeds in divorces and for winning £28 million for the wife of a Wall Street financier in a landmark case in 2003.

Katie’s legal team also includes Jonathan Wolfe, a partner in the relatively low-profile firm of Skoloff & Wolfe, based in unfashionable New Jersey.

Crucially, Mr Wolfe is an expert in what is euphemistically known in American legal circles as ‘business evaluation’ (in plain English, that means he is a terrier when it comes to finding hidden money).

Already specialist forensic accountants, employed by one of the two legal firms she has engaged, are busy untangling the complex web of businesses and trusts that manage the Top Gun star’s estimated £180 million fortune.

They want to establish Cruise’s exact wealth, which suggests 33-year-old Holmes is not prepared to walk away with the relatively modest settlement of £10 million that has been widely quoted — £2 million for every year of their five-year marriage as stipulated in the couple’s 100-page pre-nuptial agreement.

‘The last thing Tom wants is for the divorce to drag on and for details of their troubled marriage to start coming out, particularly in relation to his religion,’ crisis manager Mike Paul told me.

‘But as always in these cases, if he wants to get the divorce over quickly, some of Katie’s advisers will be telling her she can get more money to go quietly.

‘The danger for him is that the more the details of his private life are discussed openly, the more potentially damaging revelations can emerge.

‘There have been rumours about Tom’s sexuality for years, which have always been denied.

‘His PR team will be acutely aware that opportunists looking to cash in on him could start emerging with lies and half-truths.’

It looks as if the Top Gun star had better prepare for the battle of his life.


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