Testimony by John Travolta that son was autistic raises Scientology questions
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Actor John Travolta testified in an extortion case in The Bahamas on Tuesday, and admitted in court that his late son was autistic. Travolta belongs to the controversial Church of Scientology, an organization which opposes psychiatry and does not recognize autism as an affliction. Prior to the testimony, Travolta had only publicly acknowledged that his son suffered from Kawasaki syndrome.
|My son was autistic and suffered from seizure disorder.|
Travolta’s son Jett died in January 2009 at the age of 16 after experiencing a seizure. The ongoing extortion trial focuses on charges that attorney and Bahamian senator Pleasant Bridgewater and her client paramedic Tarrino Lightbourne requested US$25 million from Travolta in exchange for not revealing a document which stated Travolta did not wish for his son to be taken to a hospital. Travolta’s son was transported to Rand Memorial hospital.
“My son was autistic and suffered from seizure disorder. Every five to ten days he suffered seizures which lasted 45 seconds to a minute,” said Travolta in his court testimony. He said that after experiencing a seizure, his son would typically sleep for a period of 12 hours. The judge in the case instructed Travolta that he could be called back to testify later in the trial.
Critics have asserted that Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston, also a Scientologist, had not previously discussed their son’s autism in public due to their ties to Scientology. The Times reported that Travolta’s court admission of his son’s autism places him in contradiction with the views of Scientology. According to The Daily Telegraph, Travolta arrived at the courthouse in The Bahamas escorted by several Scientologists.
Former Scientology minister, Bruce Hines, spoke to CBS News about the organization’s beliefs regarding illness. “They believe that the only reason a person can get ill is because they are in some way connected to a suppressive person and a suppressive person is someone who is opposed to Scientology,” said Hines. He also commented on why John Travolta and Kelly Preston would have kept their son’s affliction hidden from the public: “It’s really a big deal, so how the Travoltas dealt with this–a chronic illness in the family, I’m not sure how they would have been able to explain it.”