3 Apr 2011

Scientology front group Narconon recruits, deceives, indoctrinates and endangers lives with fake science

The Fix - March 27, 2011

Why Scientology's Rehabs Are a Dangerous Scam

The Scientology-backed rehab promises addicts they can sweat out their demons in sweltering saunas. But critics charge that the organization is the devil itself.

By Mark Ebner and Walter Armstrong

L. Ron Hubbard, the prolific science fiction author and founder of the Church of Scientology, may have been judged “a mental case” (according to the F.B.I.) and “a pathological liar” (according to a Los Angeles Supreme Court judge), but to tens of thousands of his eager followers worldwide, the man discovered an approach to recovery that outclasses everything on offer from mainstream addiction science. Narconon is the spawn of Hubbard’s pseudoscientific notions, a detox-and-rehab enterprise that has, over more than four decades, grown into a multimillion-dollar empire that currently comprises an estimated several dozen clinics encircling the globe. Its claims of unrivaled success rates with its “100 percent natural,” “drug free” approach have kept it profitable and respectable, even as the church’s reputation has tanked. Celebrity endorsements—from the likes of "former graduate" Kirstie Alley—and a savvy internet marketing campaign haven't hurt.

Yet according to the organization's many critics, including friends and family of dead, damaged, or disappeared Narconon clients, the chain of rehabs is little more than a front group for the Church of Scientology. They allege that unsuspecting clients pay as much as $30,000 for “treatment” consisting of a bizarre detox process that poses serious health hazards, followed by indoctrination in Scientology masked as drug rehabilitation. By preying on people who are desperate and vulnerable—and therefore prime candidates for conversion—Narconon serves as one of the church’s main sources of revenue and recruitment. With the Scientology brand increasingly toxic—in a recent New Yorker, Lawrence Wright reported that the F.B.I. is investigating its leadership for allegedly violating human trafficking laws—the church’s survival depends more than ever on Narconon’s hold on the addiction and recovery market. (Efforts byThe Fix to contact a Narconon spokesperson for comment by phone and email were not successful.)

L. Ron Hubbard was a strange candidate to emerge as the self-proclaimed scientific leader of one of the world’s largest anti-addiction enterprises. His fondness for illicit substances was well known. Yet aside from his own ingestion of a wide variety of illegal drugs including mescaline, barbiturates, and coke—described in letters written by Hubbard and his son—the exact nature of Hubbard’s “research” into addiction remains obscure. Hubbard claimed to have discovered in 1977 that the residue of L.S.D. and other “toxic” substances lingers in the body’s tissues for months and even years after use; like tiny ticking time bombs, these remnants can explode at any moment, triggering a dangerous craving or disorienting flashback that, in turn, can lead to more drug use.

The Narconon (not to be confused with Narcotics Anonymous, or N.A.) pamphlet “Ten Things Your Friends May Not Know About Drugs” offers a basic account of the science fiction master’s theories of drug addiction. “Most drugs or their by-products get stored in fat within the body and can stay there for years,” it reads. “Even occasional use has long-term effects. This is a problem because later, when the person is working or exercising or has stress, the fat burns up and a tiny amount of the drug seeps back into the blood. This triggers cravings so the person may still want drugs even years after he stopped taking them.”

To detoxify from alcohol and drugs, Hubbard recommended in his “Purification Rundown” that ailing addicts spend four or five hours a day in 150-degree saunas, while ingesting megadoses of vitamins. This sweat-out-the-bad, drink-in-the-good regimen had originally been invented by Hubbard as the first stage in the process of conversion to Scientology and becoming “clear”—free of the negativity of “engrams,” or previous incarnations. The ensuing rehabilitation course consists mainly of “training routines,” or “T.R.s"—a deep dive into Old Father Hubbard’s theory and practice of “communication,” which is a disguised version of Scientology 101.

“By the end of the sauna, you feel like a fresh, newborn baby,” testifies Marc Murphy, the brooding young British singer-songwriter who appears to deliver a testimonial in a promotional video on the official Narconon website, narconon.org. Murphy insists that Narconon’s drug-free approach enabled him to kick a 12-year heroin addiction, compounded by a methadone and Valium habit that he acquired during dozens of previous detox attempts. “It was the easiest withdrawal that I’ve ever done,” the “student” says about his stint at a Narconon rehab outside London. “It saved my life.”

But lives have also been lost. Since Narconon's inception some 40 years ago, dozens of criminal and civil cases have been filed against its rehabs by former patients who claim to have been injured or abused, and by the relatives of people who have allegedly died as a result of bizarre and dangerous practices. “When I was at Narconon, people were taken away in ambulances and had to spend days in the hospital,” said David Love, a client at Narconon Trois-Rivieres—near Montreal—from December 2008 to May 2009, who was interviewed exclusively by The Fix. “People have died in the Quebec facility. The vitamin and sauna treatments are horrible. Patients regularly vomited and had diarrhea. Addicts with substance abuse problems have liver problems and high enzyme counts—they should in no way be taking massive amounts of vitamins like Niacin.”

Like many Narconon graduates, Love, 57, made an effortless transition from client to employee under the influence of his rehab's Scientology-based teachings. During the six months he worked at the clinic, he witnessed at least two hospitalizations: “One client had severe stomach pains and they sent him to his room to spend the whole day moaning and in pain, until he was finally taken to the hospital.” The other patient was a diabetic whose insulin was taken away when he entered the clinic, in keeping with its “drug free” philosophy. “The guy [went into insulin shock] and had to be rushed to the hospital. He was in a coma. They basically had to save his life,” said Love.

Addicted to methadone and cocaine, Love went to the Quebec Narconon thanks to a friend’s advice. Once on staff, he says he began to notice that patients were having “very bizarre reactions, because it’s a very confusing program. A lot of them were crying. One guy punched his hand through the sauna window. Another punched his fist through the freezer glass upstairs.” While confusion, crying, and even violence aren’t exactly unheard of at many legitimate rehabs, the Narconon program is designed to break a person down, he alleged. “If you take a look at those eight Narconon books [that the rehab program is based on], you’re going to ask yourself, ‘What in the hell is this?’ because there’s no medical staff there—no doctor, no nurse, no counselor, no therapist, none.”

Narconon (“Narco[tics]-Non[e]”) was founded in 1966 by William Benitez, a 32-year-od inmate who was serving 15 years on a narcotics rap at Arizona State Prison. Benitez was looking for a way to turn his life around. On a visit to the prison library he came across “an old, tattered book, Fundamentals of Thought, by L. Ron Hubbard” that (predictably) changed his life. In the book, Hubbard expresses his view that “drug addiction was nothing more than a ‘disability,’ resulting when a person ceases to use abilities essential to constructive survival.” A repeat offender and recovery flameout, Benitez applied Hubbard’s “technology,” “practical exercises” and “certain abilities”—the many T.R.'s—and managed to overcome his drug problem. A few months later, he got permission from the Arizona State Warden to teach the method to 20 fellow addicts, and soon even non-addicts in the prison—or so the official Narconon lore has it—were asking to join the program.

In 1971, a Scientology minister launched the first Narconon center in Los Angeles, an eight-bed outpatient clinic for clients just getting out of the pen. The “Purif” sauna and vitamin cocktail were added to the basic program of Scientology courses in 1973. Over the next four decades, the organization grew into one of the best-known and biggest rehab programs in the world, claiming over 100 residential facilities, offices, and information centers across 29 countries. However, most independent reports number Narconon’s actual clinics at no more than several dozen. And according to the website of the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE)—the nonprofit that runs Narconon International—there are 33 Narconon in-patient centers worldwide, including three in California, one in Nevada and the flagship facility in Oklahoma. The organization can’t even keep its own facts (or fictions) straight.

Indeed, an in-depth investigation by The Fix found that very little about the Narconon program stands up to scrutiny—scientific, statistical, or any other kind. Its widely publicized 76% (or higher) success rate is almost certainly wildly exaggerated (most recovery centers would be thrilled to see recovery rates of 20%). Many of the studies cited by Narconon to substantiate its claims were self-funded. Some were conducted by Scientologists; others are misleadingly presented. A 1981 Swedish study—funded by Narconon—found that only 23% of clients had completed the program, of whom 6.6% said they'd remained drug-free for a year. Yet by spinning the data like a top, the group promotes the study as proof of a 76% recovery rate. Paul Schofield, a former Scientologist who worked for Narconon in Australia from 2002 to 2008, told The Fix, “The success rate they promote is simply fraudulent. None of the claims that Narconon is an effective program have been independently verified.”

As for Narconon’s “drug free” approach, there’s more—in terms of health risks—than meets the eye to the “New Life Program,” widely advertised on its many websites. Hubbard held a fierce aversion to psychiatry and frequently compared psychiatrists to terrorists and mafia dons. This been interpreted by Narconon as a strict ban on meds, such as methadone and Valium, that allow addicts painfully phasing out drugs and alcohol to dial down their dependence gradually, avoiding the physical shock and mental stress of sudden withdrawal. The Narconon detox exposes clients to five-hour-a-day, 150-degree saunas, intended to clear the body of all alcohol, drugs and other toxins that Hubbard believed could trigger cravings and flashbacks. Even more bizarrely, Hubbard claimed the process is only completed when the pores discharge "black ooze."

To defend itself against charges of charlatanism, Narconon has managed to marshal scant scientific evidence. The same few names defend the organization in the media, decade after decade. One such supporter is Dr. David Root, who practices occupational medicine and is, not coincidentally, a member of the Narconon Scientific Advisory Board. Root, who claims to treat his patients with the “Hubbard detoxification program” at his Sacramento office, told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1991 that drugs and other poisons “come out through the skin in the form of sebaceous, or fatty, sweat. This material is frequently visible and drips, or is rubbed off on towels. It may be black, brown, blue, green, yellow and occasionally red. Most is washed off in the shower…and so is not seen.”

This apparently explains the need for huge daily doses of vitamins, minerals, and oils, including up to 5,000 mg of niacin—a B vitamin that Hubbard invested with near-magical powers, based on his misconception that by dilating blood vessels, niacin would pump alcohol, drugs and other toxins out of the body. The resulting “niacin flush,” or discoloration of the flesh, is actually the visible toxic discharge, Hubbard claimed.

Mainstream medical experts scoff at the Narconon detox. Dr. Neal Benowitz, Chief of Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at U.C.S.F., calls Hubbard’s sweat-it-out theory “amusing” and “ridiculous.” No matter how much a person sweats through exercise or saunas, the clearance of toxins is minimal, at best. What Root described is “not biologically possible. Sweat glands excrete watery substances, not oil,” Benowitz explained to the San Francisco Chronicle. “The concentration of drugs in sweat varies very much from drug to drug. There’s very little T.H.C. in sweat. If a drug is water soluble, you’ll find it in higher concentrations in sweat. But not years later.” Dr. Thomas Brown, an addiction scientist at McGill University, adds that: “[Narconon has] a lot of underlying assumptions that are not borne out by the current state of scientific literature.” Narconon officials provided The Fix with a handful of articles that they said supported their program, mostly in obscure medical journals and including three studies by board member Root himself.

Cold turkey, heat exposure and kooky cocktails may seem ridiculous and amusing, but they can pose health hazards of special concern to alcoholics and drug addicts. Moreover, these dangers have long been known. According to a 1991 study in theAmerican Journal of Public Health, one quarter of deaths related to sauna use were caused by alcohol or cocaine use—usually from hyperthermia, an elevation in body temperature. Given that hyperthermia is also an adverse effect of alcohol abuse, addicts undergoing the extremely elevated heat of Narconon saunas may be exposing their bodies to a compounded risk. As for megadose niacin, it can be toxic to an addict’s already-weakened liver and kidneys.

At least six Narconon clients have died—most of them in their 20s—while undertaking the program, according to documents on narconon-exposed.org, a whistle-blower website run by Dr. David Touretzky, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and one of Scientology’s most dogged academic critics.

The first reported casualty was that of Jocelyne Dorfmann, 34, an epileptic who died of a seizure in 1984 at a Narconon rehab in Dijon, France, according to the 1995 "French Parliamentary Report on Cults." A budding Scientologist, she entered the program in order to be weaned off her epilepsy medication. A French judge ruled that the center’s assistant director was guilty of negligence and ordered the facility to be shut down. Christopher Arbuckle, 25, of Portland, Oregon, died when his liver failed during the vitamin-ingestion phase of the Purification Rundown—after completing several hours of required running in a sauna, according to papers filed with the Oregon State Court. (The Church of Scientology told the St. Petersburg Florida Times that the young man’s death was caused by his steroid use and pre-existing kidney problems that he failed to disclose.) In 1995, in Lombardy, Italy, Paride Ella, 22, and Giuseppe Tomba, 26, died of kidney failure within two days of each other, reported the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. Scientologists associated with the Narconon center were found guilty of several crimes, although a higher court later quashed the convictions. In 2002, a 33-year-old Italian woman fell into a coma while in Narconon’s care and later died of peritonitis, an infection that is rarely fatal unless ignored. The woman had apparently been urged by staff at the Narconon center in Torre dell'Orso to ignore her symptoms and complete the program.

A particularly troubling aspect of these deaths is that they all seem to have been preventable—given prompt medical care. But by the time Narconon staffers decided to call on outside medical help, it was too late. The absence of licensed medical professionals at many Narconon rehabs, coupled with the general prohibition against drugs, including lifesaving medication, is a dangerous combination.

Touretzky, who told The Fix that he receives about one e-mail a week from a former Narconon client, has compiled a lengthy Narconon rap sheet that includes unsanitary accommodations, the on-site use of recreational drugs—including patients having sex with staff in exchange for drugs—and the abandonment of patients at remote bus stations late at night when they spoke out against abuses. “I hear from parents of kids who have been abused in Narconon and from people who have done drugs with their counselors,” Touretzky says. “There are all the bad things you could imagine [at a rehab] at Narconons."

One of the most serious allegations is that Narconon holds clients against their will. Daniel Locatelli, 35, of Grass Valley, Calif., claims to have been imprisoned by the Newport Beach Narconon in 2008. Two days into his stay, Locatelli grabbed his bags and bolted for the door, according to a June 2009 complaint filed by his fiancee in a California State Court, alleging fraud, breach of contract and attempts at religious conversion. The Narconon staff allegedly held him against his will for two more days, moving him to a second Narconon center, where he was allegedly denied access to a doctor to get treatment for his bronchitis. Locatelli claimed he was forced to read Scientology propaganda and to endure a demeaning ritual known by Scientologists as “bull-baiting,” during which other clients verbally humiliated him. In September 2009, Narconon settled the suit, paying Locatelli and his fiancee $22,000 ($2,000 less than the amount Locatelli had spent on his “recovery”), on condition that they did not publicly discuss the suit—or how the group’s coercive policies forced a recovering drug addict to thumb his way down the highway with his bag in hand, until a staff member finally picked him up and drove him to the airport.

Narconon staff who attempt to resign have also been imprisoned, especially if they have dirt on the organization. “I tried to leave on two or three different occasions,” said David Love. “I was held in a room against my will for two days, with the door blocked. They wouldn’t give me my ID, my driver’s license, nothing.” Narconon Trois-Rivieres, where Love worked, may have had no medical service, but its security and surveillance were abundant, according to Love. “It’s like a military compound. They have security guards, student control officers, and ethics officers. They count you every 15 minutes, just like a prison. They have a very good P.T.S. [Potential Trouble Source] interview interrogation-type system, where they will turn [clients and staff] around into wanting to stay.” After his escape, Love filed five different lawsuits against Narconon in the Canadian court system.

Yet lawsuits settled out of court and scattered media exposes have done little to diminish the group's popularity. Like the Church of Scientology, Narconon has effectively adapted itself to the internet age. With its deployment of many “drug,” “rehab,” and other recovery-related domain names, the organization’s web strategy nets many viewers. Narconon sites are wreathed with generic clip-art images of smiling families and clean-cut doctors in lab coats and stethoscopes; they feature scientific-looking manifestos and additional links to obscure, decades-old academic journals and come packed with glowing reviews. “I matured more in the few months that I was at Narconon than I did in the previous five years,” exclaims “A.S.” on the website drugrehab.net. “I now have dreams and goals again. I wake up excited about living each day and knowing that drugs wont [sic] be there.”

Claims that “certified counselors” are on-site are misleading, according to Love. “They advertise on their websites that they have certified counselors, course supervisors, withdrawal specialists. But that certificate is printed off right upstairs at Narconon—you take a little Scientology course and get it. There was nobody who had any degree from a university that had anything to do with rehabilitation or treatment.”

While ex-employees have revealed that Narconon and Scientology are united by shared leadership, shared finances and their shared devotion to the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, Narconon’s websites make no mention of the fact that Scientologists run the show. Yet even in the ‘70s, when Scientology’s popularity was at its peak, Narconon’s ties to the church were rarely publicized.

The group was initially marketed via public service announcements and free spots on local radio. “Desperate people would call the 800 number provided, and as Scientology began catching negative attention over the years, counselors were instructed to lie and say Narconon was in no way affiliated with the Church,” Patty Pieniadz, a former Narconon executive director, whose condemnation of the rehab is now as fervent as her former ardor, told The Fix.

Pieniadz’s account of Narconon operations is instructive. In 1973, Pieniadz, then a 19-year-old heroin addict, entered a Narconon facility in New London, Conn., for the modest sum of $50 a month. After several months, she successfully ditched her dependence on dope, but in the process replaced one addiction with another. “I finally was able to kick heroin,” she says, “but Scientology became my new obsession.” In short order, Pieniadz was hired as the New London facility’s “chief recruiter.” By age 22, she had become the executive director, tasked with securing government funding by promoting Narconon’s drug-free teachings in public high schools. By all accounts, she was a great success. “I personally brought in over a quarter million dollars,” Pieniadz recalled.

Undisclosed to students or clients was the fact that the success of rehabilitation depended on the client’s indoctrination in Scientology. “It was completely understood by Narconon staff that unless the patient did the entire Scientology Drug Rundown, there was little chance that they would permanently stay off drugs,” Pieniadz said. “The unwritten final step of the Narconon program was to acknowledge you were a Scientologist. Only then were you were considered to be rehabilitated.”

A 1984 internal Narconon document acquired by the Narconon Exposed website proves that this final step was not always unwritten. The document features a flow chart showing each stage of a person’s progression through the program. There is “Detoxification/Withdrawal,” the “Drug Education/Orientation Lecture,” the “Hard T.R.'s (0–9) Course,” the “Purification Program,” the “Objectives,” the “Repair Action,” the “Drug Rundown,” a second “Repair Action,” and “The Way to Happiness Rundown.” Finally, upon exiting Narconon, the purified, repaired and run-down graduate is shown the “route to nearest org for further services if individual so desires.” The “org” is of course a Scientology center, and the “services” are additional Scientology trainings. At Narconon, instruction in the “hard T.R.'s (0–9)” includes T.R. 8, which involves commanding an ashtray to “stand up” and “sit down,” and thanking it for doing so, as loudly as possible. Former Scientologists say that the purpose of the drill is to “beam intention” into the ashtray to make it move. More advanced skills can presumably be acquired in Scientology’s higher learning.

Dr. Steven Kent, a University of Alberta sociologist who specializes in religions and cults, has studied the Narconon conversion process. “If clients become convinced that ‘auditing’ has contributed to their improvement, they may wish to expand their practice of it by enrolling in Scientology courses,” he told The Fix. “They may not realize that their ‘perceptions’ of what caused their recovery is the result of factors other than what they think.”

Converting addicts into Scientologists is essential not only to clients' rehabilitation, but to the Narconon business model’s success. Said Kent: “Narconon is a source of revenue and recruitment for Scientology, not to mention a public relations opportunity to show an alleged solution to the widespread community problem of drug addiction.” According to Kent, Narconon is a legally independent entity that pays Scientology for its use of Scientology-based “technology” via a licensing arrangement with ABLE. Like Burger King or T.G.I.F., Narconon operates like a franchise. Scientologists play prominent roles at many of the individual franchises, although not all are owned by church members. Narconon also funnels money directly to the church in more illicit ways, like paying exorbitant rents for church-owned office space, in violation of the laws governing nonprofits, according to Dr. David Touretzky.

Given the close ties between Scientology and Narconon, it’s no surprise that the drug program’s reputation continues to enjoy endorsements and other support from the church’s famous Hollywood hawkers. Adding to the notoriety earned as a drama queen of fat, Kirstie Alley has served as the Narconon’s official spokesperson since 1990. Alley entered the rehab in 1979 to combat a serious coke addiction; today she credits the program with saving her life. John Travolta, another Scientology stalwart, is also a member of the Narconon advisory board, as is David Miscavige, Scientology’s controversial leader.

Yet when Narconon’s role as recruiter for Scientology is publicized, the rehab’s response is often to deny the charge while attacking its critics as pro-drug. In 1991, protesters turned out in force in Chilocco, Oklahoma, to block Narconon’s bid to build a “flagship” residential facility on tribal lands. The opposition was partly based on a consensus that they did not want a Scientology factory in their backyard. But after the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health went to the trouble of investigating the Narconon treatment program, it determined that it was not only dangerous but ineffective. In denying Narconon a permit to operate, it concluded: "No scientifically well-controlled independent, long-term outcome studies were found that directly and clearly establish the effectiveness of the Narconon program for the treatment of chemical dependency and the more credible evidence establishes Narconon's program is not effective…[or] medically safe." During the ensuing media melee, Narconon spokesman Gary Smith told local media that Narconon’s “sole intention is to get people off drugs.” Smith bitterly denounced the critics of the program as “outside sources…either connected to selling drugs or they’re using drugs.” Declining to be more specific, Smith merely said, “Trust me, I know.”

In recent years, Narconon claims to have instituted rules protecting addicts against any recruitment efforts. But according to a statement made in May 2002 by Devinder Luthra, then president of Narconon Canada, at a session of the Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the House of Commons, about 40% of Narconon clients become employees.

In the course of these investigations, reporters for The Fix contacted a dozen different Narconon facilities, presenting themselves as addicts in immediate need of help. Without exception, Narconon’s 24-hour “intake counselors” lauded the program’s success rates, while making a play for the money. Clients are typically expected to undergo three months of treatment for a flat fee of $27,000, which must be paid prior to admittance. Pressed for specifics of the program, the information became notably vague. When asked what relationship Narconon had to Scientology, most of the Narconon operator’s deftly deflected the question.

The reticence of these Narconon representatives is not hard to understand. The past decade has not been good to Scientology, which has been hurt by a series of high-profile defections, increasing media scrutiny and an inability to attract new members—and money. Much of the damage to the church's reputation has been self-inflicted, most notably by its pet celebrities. Tom Cruise’s antics—an extended tirade against psychiatry and antidepressants, for example, and an effort to persuade 9/11 firefighters with respiratory ailments to throw away their inhalers and meds in favor of Scientology rundowns—have been P.R. disasters. A high-profile investigation into the death of John Travolta’s son caused further problems.

The internet has made it increasingly difficult for the church to suppress its bad press. Dozens of anti-Narconon blogs have sprung up across the web, launched by former clients and staff, who publish their critiques at such sites as narconon-exposed.org,holysmoke.org, and crackpots.org. In 2010, an online network of hackers and computer geeks called Anonymous mobilized thousands of masked people to protest outside Scientology’s “spiritual headquarters” in Clearwater, Florida. Anonymous alleges on its website whyweprotest.net that the church has engaged in "hundreds of illegal actions, fraudulent activities, and human rights violations."

Scientology owes its sinister reputation partly to the combativeness it displays in the face of criticism. For years, the church has been accused of using lawsuits, psychological warfare and dirty tricks to silence its adversaries. It has spent millions to investigate and sue writers, government officials, disaffected ex-members and other alleged “enemies.” As far back as 1959, Hubbard warned that illness and even death would befall critics of Scientology, known within the church as “suppressive persons.”

After his resignation from Narconon Trois Rivieres in November 2009, David Love claimed that he received repeated threats from Sue Chubbs, Narconon's director of production. Most chillingly, documents indicate that Chubbs posted the words “Enemy” and “Fair Game” on Love’s Facebook page. These are specific church jargon terms, signaling to other Scientologists that he ”may be deprived of property or 
injured by any means and by any Scientologist,” Love explained.

The secrets Scientology is battling in courtrooms (and other, darker venues) to keep hidden allegedly include criminal activity and human rights violations that may have longtime leader David Miscavige doing a little sweating of his own. In his New Yorker profile, describing the director and screenwriter Paul Haggis’ recent angry public defection from the church, Lawrence Wright reports that the F.B.I. opened an investigation into the church in 2009, after a group of top-level defectors began telling the press—and, in some cases, filing lawsuits—alleging that the church runs a series of brutal re-education camps, where members are imprisoned, sometimes for years at a time, and even tortured. Based on accounts by former Scientologists interviewed by the F.B.I., the investigation appears to be focused on whether the organization has run afoul of human trafficking laws, including violations involving minors.

Sociologist Steven Kent told The Fix that he approached the F.B.I. a number of years ago with similar concerns about Scientology’s forced labor and re-education program, “but got nowhere.” He said that he’s skeptical about whether the current investigation will result in charges, especially if the allegations come only from adults. “But if the accusations of abuse come from young adults who report on their childhood and teen abuses, the agency is more likely to act,” he added. “If a number of current children defect and speak about criminal behaviors that adults forced upon them, then the chances are very good that the F.B.I. will take action.”

Critics also wonder if the I.R.S. will pursue the church for possible violation of its tax-exempt status via its involvement with practice management programs to dentists, chiropractors, veterinarians and other professionals—and, of course, with Narconon. Given these stakes, Narconon’s ability to raise money and convert addicts—to keep feeding the beast—has never been more critical to the survival of the church.

At its height, Narconon persuaded many of the nation’s most powerful school boards that it had a magic bullet to combat teen drug use. Supported by millions in tax-payer funding and donations from local businesses, Narconon’s traveling troupe of lecturers criss-crossed the country, reaching at least 1.5 million students a year. Though its educators sometimes won high marks for their ability to grab glassy-eyed students’ attention, Narconon educators, versed in L. Ron’s pseudoscience, flunked out when it came to the ABC's of actual drug facts. Over the decades, most US school districts have given Narconon the boot.

Yet the drug education program has managed to circumvent schools that have shunned the program, marketing their services to private and parochial schools that are less averse to Scientology dogma. Just as it targeted American Indians in its successful effort to build its flagship Narconon shop on tribal lands in Oklahoma, it now appears to have teens in poor urban and rural America in its cross-hairs. In 2009, the organization enlisted young hip-hop and rap artists to pitch its “drug free” message.

Still, Narconon’s growing list of survivors and other critics have their own message to convey. “Narconon’s a front-group for the Church of Scientology—another way to get new people into the system,” said Patty Pieniadz, the former executive director of a Narconon facility. “It’s a recipe for disaster and a scam.” As for David Love, he settled out of court his case alleging psychological harassment against his former employer on March 25, but Narconon has his four remaining lawsuits to contend with.” They threatened to harm me, to hunt me down and destroy me,” Love told The Fix. “I entered a Narconon for treatment for my addiction. I ended up in the hospital for post-traumatic stress.”

Additional research and reporting by James Partridge

This article was found at:


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Scientology - Child Abuse and Labour Pt.2 [video]

Former Scientologists Claim Coerced Abortions, Child Labor Inside Church

Former Scientology film production employees allege labor violations

New lawsuit alleges child labor and exploitation in totalitarian Scientology compound

Modern Day Slavery Within The Church Of Scientology

Ex-Scientology lawsuits target Sea Org, a cult within a cult

Ex-Scientologists speak about abuse and lawsuits on anniversary of global protests against sci-fi cult 

Tom Cruise practiced Scientology indoctrination techniques on isolated, vulnerable teenager

Video of former 30 year Scientologist discussing Jett Travolta based on her personal experiences of medical abuse

Jett Travolta: Did Scientology Kill Him?

Riddle of John Travolta's son - could he have been saved?

Scientology critics cite 2007 prediction of Jett Travolta's death

Did John Travolta’s weird faith seal his son Jett’s fate?

More on Jett Travolta: an audio recording of L. Ron Hubbard talking about epilepsy 

John Travolta Admits Son Jett Suffered From Autism

Death of John Travolta's son "deeply shaken" his faith in the Scientology cult

John Travolta couldn't save his son from Scientology, but will he now save others from cult abuse?

Video interview by Steve Hassan of top ex-Scientologist at international cult conference in New York

Was Scientology's efforts to suppress online revelations of the Xenu story the beginning of the end for sci-fi cult?

Denunciation of Scientology in the Australian Parliament aims to expose science fiction cult disguised as religion

Scientologists try to prevent film depicting them as a totalitarian, unethical group from airing on German public TV


  1. Economic climate a breeding ground for cults

    Leesha McKenny, Sydney Morning Herald
    November 2, 2011

    Global fears of economic or environmental upheaval feed the growth of gurus and damaging cults that prey on the weak, a visiting French government expert has warned.

    Georges Fenech, president of France's Interministerial Mission for Monitoring and Combating Cultic Deviances, said it was working for greater international co-operation in dealing with sectarian abuses – with one in five French, or 12million people, affected in some way by a cult.

    "We're going through an age where there are numerous crisis, whether it's financial, climatic, pandemic, and these create favourable basis where the gurus can work for their own benefit," he said.

    The politician and former judge cited one instance where an Australian cult, the Order of St Charbel founded by the now-jailed "Little Pebble" William Kamm on the NSW South Coast, spread to France where members have since been imprisoned.

    "So that proves there are no borders for that kind of group and that's why it's so important to have this kind of exchange and common vision between countries," he said.

    The French government has a history of taking a strict line on monitoring what it considers negative “cultlike movements”. It has previously released a list of more than 170 groups deemed cults on the basis they met one or more of 10 characteristics.

    "Some of these organisations anyway are huge organisations, like the Church of Scientology and Jehovah's Witnesses, and of course these people are here [in Australia] as well."

    Mr Fenech said the French branch of the Church of Scientology, which the French government did not call a religion, will return to court this week to appeal its 2009 conviction on charges related to illegal pharmacology and organised fraud.

    But Australia was part of the Anglo Saxon world that had a very different approach – more of "a laissez faire attitude of tolerance towards all religion," he said.

    "In France we do respect all religions but at the same time we do not tolerate that under the aegis of some kind of church some types of behaviour take place, and we confront these."

    Mr Fenech said all religions had the potential to foster cultic deviances. His organisation had examined sub-cults established within the Catholic church.

    "We can't leave this problem to private initiative because the problem is too serious and too difficult. It's just too much for associations to deal with it," he said.

    Mr Fenech, who said he will address the federal Senate today, was invited to deliver the keynote presentation at a conference entitled "Cults in Australia: Facing the Realities" co-hosted by Liberal senator Sue Boyce and independent senator Nick Xenophon.

    Speakers also include 2010 Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry, and Tom Sackville, president of the European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Sects or Cults.

    Mr Xenophon said it was vital that Australia look at laws similar to those of France that provide protection for victims of mental manipulation.

    “Right now some cults and groups here in Australia are getting away with unacceptable conduct and this is partly because our laws have failed to recognise the way people are controlled and coerced," he said.

    There were about 3000 cults operating in Australia, Cult Information and Family Support NSW president Ros Hodgins said.

    "We are asking that parliamentarians support measures to address the abusive groups we know as cults that have no accountability and cause psychological harm," she said.

    "Australia has not yet taken these issues as seriously as other countries, especially Europe."


  2. Narconon - Threat to Public Health

    David Love, Montreal Personal Safety Examiner
    November 9, 2011

    Due to several formal complaints, Narconon Trois-Rivieres is under multiple investigations in Canada by government authorities and the College of Physicians. Scientology’s rehab centers, Narconon, are one of the world’s fastest growing, and most lucrative addiction treatment programs in decades.

    Lured by a promising 70 to 90 percent success rate, vulnerable addicts and their parents, fall prey to treatment not recognized in current medical literature. The evident dangers and threat to a patient’s health is second to the Scientology therapies and treatments at Narconon. The Purification Rundown consists of entering a hot sauna for five hours per day, seven days per week, for up to several weeks while being administered toxic doses of Niacin and other multi-vitamin cocktails.

    The trail of documented deaths from victims being administered the Purification Rundown, circle the globe, with many medical experts calling the regime an unproven treatment and quackery. After reviewing materials published by Narconon, University of Oklahoma biochemistry professor Bruce Roe described the program as "a scam" based on "half-truths and pseudo-science.

    In a 1999 French court case, five staff members of the Church of Scientology were convicted of fraud for selling the Purification and other Scientology procedures. In Russia, the Purification Rundown has been banned by officials as a threat to public health.

    Paride Ella and Giuseppe Tomba, clients of Narconon in Taceno, Italy, died in 1995 during the vitamin phase of the program, suffering kidney problems and a heart attack respectively. Another client was found blue-lipped on the waiting room floor, hemorrhaging. ...

    A 25-year-old man in Portland, Oregon died from liver failure having taken the Purification. ...

    In Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, a Narconon client was hospitalized after suffering from severe stomach pains. Another Narconon Trois-Rivieres patient was admitted to hospital after not being administered his insulin and would have died had it not been for the attending hospital physicians. The College of Physicians and other government agencies, are taking a close look at the pseudo-scientific practices of Narconon in Quebec, with several investigations moving forward. The Quebec College of Physicians recently banned a physician from associating with Narconon Trois-Rivieres; sending a clear message to the Quebec medical profession.

    Will Narconon in Quebec and other Canadian Provinces be banned and shut down from exploiting vulnerable victims? If one reviews the threat to public safety, these Scientology Rehab centers could be facing their last days in the very near future.

    In the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath, the following speaks volumes, “I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.”

    People’s lives are at risk and addicts deserve professional, qualified treatment and care.

    read the full article at:


  3. Drugs education link to Scientology church

    KIRSTY JOHNSTON, Auckland stuff February 19, 2012

    A controversial Church of Scientology drug-awareness programme has received government funding to spread its unorthodox views through schools and community groups. In the past six months, drug-free ambassadors linked to the church have circulated 130,000 drug education booklets around New Zealand, paid for in part by the Department of Internal Affairs' Community Organisations Grant Scheme. The ambassadors claim at least 18 community groups – including their "partners" the Maori Wardens – plus at least seven high schools, endorse and use the materials. Advice offered in the pamphlets is based on research by Scientology's controversial founder, LRon Hubbard, who did not believe in medical drugs or psychiatry but instead in purging oneself of painful experiences to gain immortality.

    Ross Bell, executive director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, warned that the group's information was flawed pseudo-science and could prove harmful to youth. "This kind of quackery should not be in our schools – we are talking about young people's lives," he said. "Drug and alcohol issues are complex and therefore we need well-qualified, proper, evidence-based support advice and information." Bell said Scientology's views on mental health were not based on science, and had been discredited "time and time again" in the countries they worked in.

    Other critics, including former Scientologists, say the drug-free ambassadors are also a front group aimed at recruitment which does not openly disclose its ties to the church. The group, which has various aliases, has also come under fire overseas, including in Australia where its links to the government were described as "worrying". However, the Church of Scientology New Zealand says its anti-drug group is not aimed at recruitment, instead wanting only to arm young people with factual information about drugs.

    "We promote good educational materials on the drugs in use on the streets that people of all ages can relate to and decide for themselves whether or not to start using," said Mike Ferriss, head of Scientology in New Zealand. He said the booklets were based partially on Hubbard's teachings, plus using local statistics and information. Only some of the money came from government, Ferriss said. The International Association of Scientologists also made a grant. "As a group we believe that something effective can be done about any problem and it does not have to cost a lot of money."

    Several groups of Maori Wardens, which are mainly volunteer organisations funded by the taxpayer, have partnered with the drug-free ambassadors. One of the group's leaders, Rita Peters, is a warden, a Scientologist and an ambassador. She spends much of her time handing out the booklets in places like Otahuhu and Mangere in South Auckland. Mangere ward leader Thomas Henry said he talked with the group after its members consistently approached him with their pamphlets. He said drugs and alcohol were a problem in South Auckland and there was a need for the material. "For us, it was free information. We don't have money to pay for these resources so we were thankful that we were able to have a relationship with them," Henry said.

    Figures show that during 2011 the Church of Scientology New Zealand, a registered charity, listed its income for 2010 as $1.2 million. Drug-Free Ambassadors, also a registered charity, had an income of approximately $6700, of which $6500 was grants. Green MP Kevin Hague said any funding given to a group that was a front for the church should be stopped.
    "In the case of someone who is struggling with drugs, they are very vulnerable. So their exploitation by the church for their own ends is despicable."

    read the rest at:


  4. Mom slams drug rehab centre run by Scientologists

    By Kathy Tomlinson, CBC News April 9, 2012

    A Toronto mother is speaking out about a Quebec treatment facility she sent her drug-addicted son to, which turned out to be run by Scientologists.

    "I feel fooled. I really thought they were going to be able to help me. And help him," said Yvonne Keller. "Instead, they just put this kid right back where he started from."

    In December, Keller paid $10,000 to send her 22-year-old son Daniel to a Trois-Rivières treatment centre, which is part of the Narconon group.

    Its website does not make it obvious, however, Narconon uses the teachings of Scientology in its treatment facilities. It has former addicts in every Canadian city answering the crisis lines and doing intakes. Narconon has several facilities worldwide, but the main one in Canada is in Trois-Rivières.

    "I don't want my money going to that church," said Keller.

    A week after her son arrived at the treatment centre, Narconon staff rejected him from the program and put him on a bus back to Toronto, penniless and alone. Keller hasn't been able to get her money back and said her son is now back on the street.

    "They had my son in their care for six days and basically put him on a bus … which frustrated me greatly," said Keller. "I speak with [Daniel] every day now and basically he is homeless."

    Keller said before she sent her son to Quebec, she could find no public treatment available for him in Ontario or any other province. She said lack of treatment beds has been a huge obstacle for years.

    "It's horrible. You feel broken. You feel helpless. Powerless," she said. "I can't go to my own country and get help for my own child for these problems in regulated and safe institutions."

    She was referred to Narconon by a self-help line run by former addicts. In desperation, she said she paid a Narconon "interventionist" $2,500 and bought plane tickets for him to take Daniel to Quebec.

    "I had to put [the $10,000 initial treatment fee] on my credit card, and that's what I did," said Keller.

    While Daniel was at the treatment centre, Keller said he harmed himself by cutting his arms with a knife and he managed to get access to rubbing alcohol, which he drank.

    "He was supposed to be under 24-hour supervision, which clearly he wasn't," said Keller. "An addict who is in a withdrawal unit needs to be extremely carefully supervised and I'm not sure they were capable."

    Andre Ahern, director of legal affairs at Narconon Trois-Rivières, said Keller's son simply didn't qualify for the program, because when he arrived he was in a psychotic state. He said the facility is set up to treat addictions, not mental illness.

    "We are very sorry for him. We are very, very sorry for him. But you know what, we are not responsible for his condition when he came — for sure," said Ahern.

    He said Narconon had to choose between sending Daniel home or calling police, because he was very disruptive. As soon as staff agreed to let him go home, Ahern said, Daniel settled right down.

    "We made sure when we put him on the bus, he was cooled down," said Ahern.

    He said he is a Scientologist and that Narconon uses the teachings of Scientology in its program. However, he said, that is simply because they are extremely effective.

    "Since 2002, I have seen 1,200 [addicts] graduate drug-free," said Ahern. "We are not looking at what is politically correct, we are looking at what gives good results."

    However, former Narconon employee David Love said the facility is simply a front to recruit vulnerable people into Scientology, while collecting fees — up to $30,000 for the whole program — from the addict's families.

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    "The idea is to get them to Narconon. Once they're in and their mother, their father, their family has paid thousands of dollars, or the whole $30,000, once they get them in, that's the key," said Love.

    "The indoctrination into Scientology begins when you arrive at Narconon … It is 100% cult sect." he said. "Religious indoctrination, right out of the Scientology textbooks."

    Scientology essentially teaches that humans are immortal and need to find their true nature. The Church of Scientology is also controversial, because it's been accused of being a cult that mistreats members while taking their money.

    Scientology also does not support psychiatry or medication, so Love said addicts who go to Narconon treatment centres are not given any prescription drugs or conventional treatment.

    "There was one patient, a young fellow, and they took away his meds and he jumped out the second-floor window and tried to commit suicide," said Love.

    He said families and addicts who call the number on the Narconon website will likely speak to an ex-addict, who is paid to recruit people into treatment.

    "These people who are running these websites, if they refer directly to Narconon, they'll receive 10 per cent for the $30,000 Narconon fee — so they'll get $3,000."

    He said it's not unusual for addicts to get sent home on a bus, if staff can't control or indoctrinate them.

    Ahern said he doesn't track what happens to most people after they leave the Trois-Rivières program, however, he said he only knows of three people who converted to Scientology. He also said staff tell patients they are free to practice whatever religion they chose, while there.

    "It's a non-medical, non-religious, drug-free rehab centre – it's the only thing I can say," said Ahern. "Every student … you have the right to practice your religion, any religion you have."

    As a result of CBC News inquiries, Ahern promised Yvonne Keller will soon get all or most of her $10,000 back, after the paperwork is processed.

    "She will get her money back for sure," he said.


  6. Scientologist-run rehab centre ordered closed in Quebec

    CBC News April 17, 2012

    The head of a regional health agency in Quebec said he had no choice but to shut down a Scientology-based rehab centre in Trois-Rivières.

    In recent months, he said at least four clients were taken to hospital because of methods used at the centre.
    The Narconon Trois-Rivières is one of dozens of similar centres in the U.S. and around the world where the detox treatment is inspired by the teachings of Scientology.

    Mauricie regional health agency director Marc Latour said Narconon Trois-Rivières advertised an 80 per cent success rate and charged $25,000 for its program.

    Latour said the centre was dangerous for patients and violated many of the criteria regulating Quebec's rehab centres.
    He said there was no medical supervision and no scientific basis to the treatment.

    Latour said patients went cold turkey, then underwent lengthy sauna detox sessions designed to sweat out drugs and took an unhealthy amount of vitamins.

    An Ontario woman, who asked to remain anonymous, spent thousands of dollars for her son to kick an addiction to the drug OxyContin.

    But this weekend, just three weeks into his treatment, she had to drive back to the centre.

    "The students had to basically get out [as soon as possible]," she told the CBC. "There was no information at that point."

    Her son, along with half of the 34 people who were at the centre when it was shut down, have been sent to Narconon centres in the U.S.

    The centre didn't respond to numerous calls from the CBC.

    But in an interview earlier this month, a spokesperson said the centre's treatment goes hand-in-hand with Scientology teachings and that 1,200 addicts have left the centre drug-free since it opened in 2005.


  7. Narconon centre in Trois Rivières ordered to relocate its residents

    By Catherine Solyom, Montreal Gazette April 17, 2012

    Health officials have ordered the Narconon rehabilitation centre for drug addicts in Trois Rivières to evacuate and relocate its 32 residents, citing concerns over procedures that “may represent a risk to health” and the lack of doctors on staff.

    Following an investigation into the centre’s activities by the Centre Québécois d’agrément, an independent body mandated to monitor quality in health care, the agency for health and social services for the Mauricie Region said Tuesday it does not intend to certify Narconon.

    The centre, among the largest of 50 Narconon centres in 22 countries, bases its treatment on the teachings of the Church of Scientology headquartered in California, giving its “students” high doses of niacin and having them sit in saunas for about five hours a day. The rest of the treatment consists of “Training Routines” based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, in which patients perform the same tasks over and over.

    Residents in Trois Rivières paid $25,000 to $30,000 for their treatment, which lasted on average three to five months.

    Marc Lacour, the director of the Mauricie Health and Social Services Agency, said he had received several complaints about the centre in the last few months. But the agency’s decision not to certify was based on visits to the Narconon centre in February, and the recommendations of a national committee of experts convened in March to discuss the case. Though the centre has been in operation since 2005, it was only this year that certification by the agency became mandatory for all rehabilitation centres, Lacour explained.

    “The criteria (for certification) relate to safety, sanitation, nutrition, insurance, administrative practices, an ethical code and the approaches and techniques used by the centre,” Lacour said. “The approach used by Narconon is not recognized in Quebec, and it was mainly on that basis that the agency decided to relocate its residents.”

    Most of the residents, Lacour said, are from other provinces of Canada, particularly British Columbia, and the United States. Most have been relocated to other Narconon centres south of the border.

    Lacour said Narconon has 10 days, as of April 13, to comment before the agency makes its final decision on certification. Narconon also has 60 days to appeal the decision at the Tribunal administratif du Québec. In the meantime, Narconon will no longer be able to operate in the Mauricie region.

    “For sure, if we came to this conclusion (about Narconon), we worry about what may be happening elsewhere,” Lacour said, adding Narconon has been banned in France.

    David Love, a former patient and staff member of Narconon in Trois Rivières who has been tirelessly rallying against the organization since he left it in 2009, saw the closing as a victory, but not the end of his mission.
    Love has filed a complaint against Narconon and the Church of Scientology with the Quebec Human Rights Commission. André Ahern, the director of legal affairs for Narconon Trois Rivières, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


  8. Inside Narconon's bizarre treatments

    David love discusses his strange and painful experiences there. It was like 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest times 10,' he says

    By CATHERINE SOLYOM, Montreal Gazette April 20, 2012

    Perhaps the lowest point in David Love's "treatment" for drug addiction at Narconon Trois Rivières was the five-hour sauna on his 25th day of five-hour saunas.

    Being forced to yell at an ashtray for hours on end - "Stand up, ashtray!" "Thank you." "Sit back down, ashtray!" - also left him confused and frustrated. But it was when Love realized that the rehab centre inspired by the teachings of Scientology was actually putting vulnerable addicts' health at risk - and that he had become a part of the machinery - that he decided to get out.

    On Oct. 28, 2009, six months after he had gone from "graduate" of the Narconon program to "Certified Counsellor," Love left the facility and began a crusade to have it shut down. In July 2011, following his complaint, the Quebec College of Physicians ordered Dr. Pierre Labonté, Narconon's "medical manager," to cut his associations with the centre, located about 125 kilometres northeast of Montreal. The Quebec labour relations tribunal also mediated in Love's favour when he complained about being paid $2.50 an hour as a staff member.

    Then last Friday, 2½ years after Love began his campaign, public health officials for the Mauricie region ordered Narconon to relocate its 32 residents and told the organization they would not certify the centre, because its approach was not recognized in this province, and that its practices, including the saunas and massive doses of niacin, were potentially putting patients' health at risk.

    Most of the patients, from B.C. and other provinces as well as the United States, have since been relocated to Narconon centres in the U.S.

    As for David Love, he remains drug-free since he left Narconon - but deeply traumatized by what he saw and went through in Trois Rivières.

    "I'll wake up from nightmares sometimes. I still have a very difficult time sleeping," says Love, who has been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder by a psychiatrist at the Allan Memorial Institute. "It's the intensity of the program they put you through, it affects your psyche."

    Love's saga with Narconon began after he was hospitalized in Vancouver for a drug overdose.
    His daughter, then an Ethics Officer at Narconon, suggested he should join her in Trois Rivières for Narconon's drug-free program. She could work out a deal whereby he could pay half price - $11,500 - in biweekly instalments, using his unemployment cheques. He agreed.

    The first step, he says, is always in one of the withdrawal rooms on the ground floor, where each patient spends the first three to 12 days. No physician is seen before or during drug withdrawal.

    Then come the personality and IQ tests, performed at regular intervals on patients, and the interrogation by an Ethics Officer to make sure a patient, or "student" as Narconon calls them, is not an undercover reporter.

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    Once cleared, the student can then begin the "Purification Rundown," 4.5-to-fivehour-long sessions in the sauna, in conjunction with massive doses of niacin. L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction author and the founder of the Church of Scientology, believed that drug residues are stored in the body's fatty tissues, causing the addict's cravings when they are partially released later on.

    But they can be flushed out through a regimen of exercise, sauna and high doses of vitamins, particularly niacin, Hubbard believed. According to Love, students got doses of niacin that far exceeded Health Canada's recommended maximum of 500 mg a day.

    In high doses, niacin is toxic to the liver, Love said. "And many (Narconon) patients already have compromised livers because of their alcoholism, and some have Hepatitis C."

    The head of the Mauricie public health agency, Marc Lacour, said Tuesday that at least four of the centre's patients had been taken to hospital in the last few months, but for reasons of patient confidentiality, the agency could not provide details.

    Love also remembers a few who suffered when Narconon staff refused to give them their medicine. On several websites used to attract potential clients, Narconon boasts of its 70-to-75 per cent success rate and entirely drug-free program - which even excludes prescription drugs. In one case, staff members withheld insulin from a diabetic patient undergoing the sauna treatment. That young man ended up in hospital for three days, Love said. In another, it took away a patient's antidepressants. He jumped from a second-floor window in a suicide attempt.

    As for its success rate, in an interview with CBC this month, the legal affairs director of Narconon, André Ahern, admitted Narconon does not necessarily keep track of patients once they leave the facility - so it cannot know how many have relapsed. Ahern did not answer The Gazette's requests for comment Tuesday and Wednesday.

    For Love, the lasting effects of the Narconon experience were psychological.

    The ashtray routine was just one of several training routines Love says are designed to make students accept they are being controlled, and teach them how to control others.

    In another routine, two students were put in a room and repeatedly ordered each other to go to a wall, touch a wall, pick up a bottle, put it down, etc. The exercise could last hours, or several days, but until students were deemed to have completed it they couldn't move on, Love said.

    "They wouldn't let a patient go on to the next stage until they were 'cracked,' " Love said, quoting from one of Hubbard's books.

    "These things really affected me. Being forced to say there's nothing more I can do.

    "They'd say keep going, keep going, when people were in tears ... You have no money, you don't know the language, you have nowhere to live, no money for food, you're stuck there. You're f----d. You have to do it. ... It was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest times 10."

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    When patients complained to parents who were paying the fees, staff members would convince them that it was normal they should want to leave, but that for their own good they had to complete the program.

    Love only realized that Narconon was closely linked to the Church of Scientology when he graduated from the program after five months, and became a staff member. He was given $700 worth of Scientology books that echoed the teachings in the Narconon books he already read.
    Narconon often recruited former students to be staff, Love said.

    Lacour, of the public health agency, said that following several complaints, Narconon Trois Rivières has been more upfront recently about its ideology. "They are no longer hiding the fact they are inspired by Scientology, but they are not there to recruit," Lacour said.

    Love disagrees, and says he believes that on top of providing new recruits to the church, Narconon, which has 50 centres in 22 countries, funnels money to it. Since 2005, when the centre in Trois Rivières opened, Love calculated it had treated 720 patients and earned more than $16 million, much of which went to church executives in the form of salaries, and donations to the church.

    Love has received leaked emails that point to the close relationship between the Church of Scientology in Montreal and Narconon Trois Rivières.

    Love, along with four other former patients, has filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission claiming that Narconon Trois Rivières exploited their disability - drug addiction - in getting them in the program and having them do manual labour. Also named in the complaint are the Church of Scientology International and Narconon International.

    Love also plans to attend a protest outside Narconon Trois Rivières on April 29 - even if its staff and residents have moved on to other locations.


  11. Greens say tax payer money going to Church of Scientology

    By Kate Shuttleworth, New Zealand Herald May 9, 2012

    Green's drugs spokesman Kevin Hague has alleged in Parliament that the Church of Scientology is using tax-payer money to promote an anti-psychiatry agenda and messages against medication used to treat mental illness through charities disguised as social service organisations.

    Mr Hague said he had watched members of the church on Auckland's Queen Street target vulnerable people.

    Using parliamentary privilege, Mr Hague said groups affiliated to the church had been able to receive community grants.

    "There's a bunch of smiling young people with clipboards who approach people who are going past and invite them to do a personality test," he said in Parliament.

    "Those that take the personality test invariably find that the solution to the problem to their personality lies some how with the Church of Scientology."

    Mr Hague claimed 30,000 children had received the leaflets from the group.

    He said the church was against the use of medicines used to treat mental illness and psychiatry and targeted vulnerable members in the community.

    "It is evil to try to dissuade people with mental illness to avoid proper health professional services that they need."

    "I don't object to churches providing social services, provided the church is transparent and that the service is not a front for recruiting into the church, but the Church of Scientology fails of both of those fronts."

    Mr Hague said that among the groups acting as a front for the Church of Scientology were Drug-Free World, Drug-Free Ambassadors, Commission for Human Rights, Rehabilitate New Zealand and World Literacy Crusade.

    He called for the Minister of Internal Affairs to follow through with an investigation promised by the department in February.

    Church of Scientology secretary Mark Ferris confirmed Drug-Free Ambassadors and Drug-free Aotearoa were registered charities and had received a $6500 community grant to fund fliers promoting a drug-free life.

    Mr Ferris said the groups listed in Parliament by Mr Hague were well-known affiliates of the church.

    He said the leaflets were distributed widely and had not targeted children and did not address psychiatric drugs.

    He said Mr Hague's comments were not accurate.

    "They are stupid, because we are doing something in terms of drug education that no other group is," he said.

    Mr Ferris said the church was against the over-use of medication in psychiatry but not against medication overall.

    "They are saying that a drug-free life is better than taking drugs," he said.

    "We use medical doctors like anyone else. In fact, we have members of in the church who are doctors," he said.


  12. Father Calls Daughter's Death At McAlester Rehab Facility Preventable

    by Tess Maune, News On 6 July 22, 2012

    McALESTER, Oklahoma - An Oklahoma rehab facility is under fire following the deaths of three patients.

    In the past 12 months, three people have died while being treated at Narconon Arrowhead near McAlester.

    The most recent, 20-year-old Stacy Murphy from Owasso, was found dead Thursday morning.

    "This is a drug addict," Robert Murphy said as he showed a photo of his daughter, Stacy. "It's not the perception you think of a drug addict, and people have to realize, it can be their own child."

    Robert Murphy is coming to grips with Stacy's death.

    He said she was a vibrant, bubbly girl with the world at her fingertips -- until she fell in with the wrong crowd.

    "Stacy grew up in the church, she did the sports," Robert Murphy said. "So sweet and so bubbly, you just don't know what the struggle is that [was] going on inside of her and she was seeking help."

    Robert Murphy said when Stacy's prescription drug addiction escalated to heroin, she agreed to seek treatment at Narconon Arrowhead, a drug and alcohol rehab facility with treatments inspired by teachings of the Church of Scientology.

    "We went there for her to be cured, safe," Robert Murphy said. "She had so much potential."

    Stacy was found dead Thursday morning.

    Her father said she sneaked in drugs to the facility following a one- day visit home.

    "My first thought was, ‘Well, Stacy did what she did to herself,'" Robert Murphy said. "But after hearing what [Narconon] did know, there was no reason for her to die."

    Murphy said Narconon employees knew Stacy was on the verge of an overdose, but instead of providing her with the medical attention she needed, his daughter was put in a room and left to die.

    "They did not call us as parents; they did not call a medical team," Robert Murphy said. "There was a shift change apparently at 7 o'clock. Nobody found her until 9:20."

    Two other patients have died at Narconon this year, including another Oklahoman, Gabriel Graves.

    "In Narconon's 20 years of operation, there [have] been three deaths at the Narconon facility and those have been within the last 12 months," CEO Gary W. Smith said in an email to News On 6. "The rampant abuse of prescription medications and drugs like Spice, bath salts and host of other designer drugs has presented new and greater challenges for treatment providers."

    The Pittsburg County Sheriff's office, along with the OSBI are investigating all three deaths.

    Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns said criminal or negligence charges are possible, though the investigation is still the early stages.

    "We just hate it for these families ," Kerns said. "I just feel for them, that they've lost a child."

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    And for Stacy's family, Robert Murphy said it will continue to cope, while searching for answers and demanding change.

    "All I can say is it's not safe," Robert Murphy said. "My daughter's death could have been prevented, easily, easily. And I don't want her death to be in vain.

    "They don't have a physician on 24-hour staff. I've been told he only goes in once a week. There's procedures that either have to be changed or this place has to be shut down."

    When News On 6 reached out to Narconon, Smith supplied the following statement:

    "Out of respect for the law and to remain in full compliance with 42 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) which are laws specifically designed to protect past and present clients or their family members right to privacy, I cannot disclose any information about past clients.

    It is always deeply saddening when drug addiction takes a life or destroys a family. It hurts when a young person passes away before their time. For the family the pain of losing a loved one to addiction is unimaginable and our deepest sympathy goes out to those families. Our prayers are with them. For those who have committed their lives to saving people from drug and alcohol addiction the loss of not being able to help a person overcome addiction takes an emotional toll on us as well. It is a sad day for everyone when something as unfortunate and devastating as this occurs.

    There are very precise local and state guidelines established with law enforcement and state agencies that come into play if and when there are any critical incidents concerning a person in our, or any other healthcare provider's, care. In the event that these circumstances arise, Narconon Arrowhead fully cooperates with these agencies.

    Narconon Arrowhead is an established Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center that has been in operation in Oklahoma since 1992. The Center employs 190 rehabilitation and nursing staff and has serviced over 10,000 people in its rehabilitation program since it was first licensed and opened its doors over twenty years ago. Narconon has remained accredited by the nationally recognized accreditation agency, CARF (Commission on The Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) for 20 years and is certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse to deliver non-medical detoxification services."

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990. In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs, the agency reported.

    The Oklahoman reported earlier this year that drug overdoses now kill more Oklahomans than motor vehicle accidents — an average of two per day, and drug overdoses in the state have more than doubled in the past 10 years.

    Oklahoma is No. 1 in prescription painkiller abuse, according to a 2011 study.

    The stigma attached to drug abuse is one that Robert Murphy said he wishes on no family.

    "It's embarrassing to say your child is a drug addict or an alcoholic … but this is everybody's daughter, son, father, brother. People need help," Robert Murphy said."They're not crazy people. They're addicted, and sometimes no fault of their own. But if it happens, it happens, and they need help. Safe help."


  14. Former Narconon Patient Talks About Treatment Practices

    By Dana Hertneky, News 9 OKLAHOMA CITY July 26, 2012

    As the investigation into a Scientology-run drug treatment center continues more people who attended the center are coming forward.

    Three people have died at the facility in the past nine months, the most recent last week.

    The OSBI has now turned the results of its investigation into the recent death over to the District attorney in Pittsburg County. This, as News 9 is learning more about exactly what happens inside the facility.

    "It was a way to get you kind of weak and vulnerable and trust whatever they're telling you," said a former patient who asked not to be identified.

    She checked into the Narconon drug rehab facility about a year ago and was there at the same time as Gabriel Graves, who died in October after she left. The medical examiner could not determine a cause of his death.

    "He was very excited about getting home to his family. When I heard that he died it shocked me," said the woman.

    The woman says patients at the center would first go through detox, then a course written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

    "One thing I had to do was talk to an ash tray, you had to tell it to stand up and then you have to tell it to sit down."

    After patients pass the course, the next step is called "sauna" where they are given high doses of vitamins and told to sit on a sauna for 5 hours a day: 20 minutes in, 5 minutes out, to "sweat out" the drugs.

    "People got sick, people had serious diarrhea, things like that," she recalls. "Basically I was told that was because of the vitamins."

    The woman says most of those working at the facility were not medical personnel, but former patients.

    "They're kind of just people like me that have been through the program and decided to stay and work,"

    And many patients would stay. This woman says she wanted to leave her husband and kids, after those at the facility convinced her that her family was the reason for her addiction.

    "I need to detach myself from them in order to remain sober and live a happy life."

    News 9 has talked to other people who have worked in other treatment facilities and they tell us this method of treatment is not typical. Administrators at Narconon say they are cooperating with investigators.

    The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse is also investigating the facility.


  15. State rehab facility under investigation for negligence

    By JARREL WADE, Tulsa World Staff Writer July 29, 2012

    Alive, but only just, Heather Landmeier blinks to communicate from a vegetative state.

    She has almost no control of her body below her neck and will be fed through a tube for the rest of her life.

    Landmeier, 27, overdosed on heroin and Oxycontin at a Tulsa hotel in March 2008. A day earlier, she was dismissed from Narconon Arrowhead, a state-licensed non-medical drug detoxification facility in Pittsburg County, records show.

    Landmeier's family alleges in court documents that her dismissal was related to drugs and alcohol provided to her by Narconon staff.

    "Heather believed Narconon would be the start on her road to recovery," said Landmeier's younger sister, Hilary Landmeier. "Our family believed that as well. We put our trust in them. They truly made us believe that."

    Landmeier's case is part of a controversy that surrounds Narconon, a southeast Oklahoma center that uses practices commonly associated with Scientology and the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.

    Since October, there have been three confirmed deaths related to the facility. Since 2005, there have been four other deaths - three of which were on the premises, according to state records.

    The most recent death was Stacy Murphy, a 20-year-old from Owasso, on July 19. In the days after she died, at least two state agencies and Pittsburg County authorities have been investigating the facility.

    The center faces claims of violating state mental health facility statutes and consumer protection law, authorities said.

    Narconon Arrowhead Director Gary Smith declined a phone interview. In a brief email, Smith, citing federal health laws, said he couldn't comment on any client's specific case. In a previous statement, Smith said the organization will cooperate openly with any local and state agencies' investigations.

    Murphy's father alleges his daughter wasn't given proper medical attention by Narconon staff. The Landmeier family claims Narconon was negligent. And an Oklahoma man who spent two weeks in the facility says Narconon is trying to indoctrinate people in Scientology.

    Scientology-based rehab

    Narconon Arrowhead opened about 12 years ago in Canadian, a community northeast of McAlester. The facility refers to patients as "students" and focuses on a "sauna purification process," according to the organization's website.

    About 150-200 clients can be serviced at Narconon at a time, with more space for staff who live on campus, authorities have reported.

    The Oklahoma center, Narconon International's flagship facility out of several in the U.S., is rooted in Scientology and likewise based on the teachings and the "technology" developed by science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, according to the organization's website.

    The facility advertises a non-drug path to rehabilitation that focuses on three activities: exercise, vitamins and sauna sessions. In the daily sauna session, participants are given niacin, which is a vitamin, and then exercise.

    "From here they go into the sauna to sweat taking a break every 20 minutes and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration," according to the website. "The sauna treatment usually lasts about 5 hours a day total. Salt and potassium are readily available to avoid overheating, headaches and to help promote the ability to sweat. After a completed day of sweating, the individual is given healthy oils to replace those lost in the perspiration process and a very specific vitamin regimen."

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    According to a court filing in Landmeier's lawsuit, Social Betterment Properties International owned the property last year. SBPI is listed as a non-profit that maintains properties used for programs that follow the "methods developed by L. Ron Hubbard and that are associated with and supported by the Scientology religion."

    Colin Henderson, a patient at the facility in July 2007, said he thinks Narconon is more concerned with Scientology converts than helping drug addicts.

    "While at Narconon, I saw first-hand the training methods were intended more to indoctrinate students into Scientology," he said.

    This year, Henderson filed a complaint with the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, citing problems he experienced during his two-week stay.

    On Tuesday, the World requested from ODMHSAS all inspection and complaint reports concerning Narconon. A spokesman said the reports were being compiled and reviewed.

    Henderson said one recovery method used at Narconon is called an Eyes Open TR0, which means Training Routine 0. Henderson said, while at the center, he was forced to sit about three feet from another patient.

    "You sit with your back perfectly straight, your hands on your knees and staring only into the other person's eyes," Henderson said. "You cannot blink, cough, move, or break eye contact for five minutes."

    If you fail, you have to start over, he said. Henderson said patients have to successfully remain still in increments of five, 10 and 15 minutes. As the class advances, the time increments increase to one hour, he said.

    The investigations

    Narconon Arrowhead is licensed through the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to provide "non-medical detoxification services," according to Jeffrey Dismukes, director of public information for ODMHSAS.

    "Not all aspects of Narconon's program fall within the department's jurisdiction," Dismukes wrote in an email. "It should be noted that the (ODMHSAS) is currently reviewing other aspects of the Narconon program to determine if additional components should be subject to state certification standards."

    The department is investigating the facility, he said.

    Since Murphy's death, agencies involved in Narconon investigations include ODMHSAS, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office and the Pittsburg County District Attorney's office, according to reports.

    Dismukes said the reports from the state were being compiled and reviewed.

    Although Narconon is only certified for non-medical detoxification, the facility has been in the process of becoming certified to deliver medical detoxification services, Dismukes said.

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    Claims of negligence

    Stacy Murphy had voluntarily admitted herself to the clinic and had been a patient for about six weeks when she received a day pass to go home, said her father, Robert Murphy.

    After she returned to the center, she began acting peculiarly, and the center gave her a drug test, which came back positive for opiates, he said.

    "She died from someone neglecting her after they knew she had drugs in her body," he said.

    Unlike Stacy Murphy, Heather Landmeier lived there and was kicked out after testing positive for drugs, according to court records.

    After Landmeier's drug use, dismissal and subsequent overdose, Landmeier spent months in hospitals diagnosed with brain damage before being released to her family in Illinois. They provide 24-hour care, Hilary Landmeier said.

    "We lived hundreds of miles away and all we could do was trust them to take care of her," she said. "The second she needed them the most, they just absolutely abandoned her."

    According to court documents filed by Narconon attorneys, Landmeier was a "student" and later a "trainee" being groomed to join the center's staff. Her last round of rehab was her third time through the facility.

    The Landmeier family is seeking damages from Narconon for an unspecified amount more than $75,000, according to the family's Tulsa lawyer, Donald Smolen II.

    The case is ongoing in Pittsburg County before Associate District Judge James Bland, records show.

    Defense attorneys for Narconon argue in court filings that Narconon Arrowhead administrators dismissed Landmeier as soon as they were made aware of her drug use and are not responsible for her overdose after she violated rules and left the premises.

    Hilary Landmeier said she would encourage family of anyone at Narconon to get them out as quickly as possible, especially considering the recent deaths.

    "My heart just goes out to the family" of Stacy Murphy, Hilary Landmeier said. "I'm just so thankful that I have my sister here still. It may not be the same Heather that I had before, but she's still my sister. ... No family should ever, ever have to go through something like this."

    Deaths connected to Narconon in Oklahoma

    July 19: Stacy Murphy, 20, from Owasso.

    April 11: Hillary Holten, 21, from Carrolton, Texas.

    Oct. 26, 2011: Gabriel Graves, 32, from Claremore.

    March 2009: Kaysie Dianne Werninck, 28.

    January 2009: Jean Lafitte, 52.

    April 2007: Fred Oesterreicher, 53.

    February 2005: Sharon Charlene Nederlander, 44.

    Source: Reports by state medical examiner and local law enforcement.

    World Correspondent Sheila Stogsdill contributed to this story.

    Original Print Headline: Rehab facility under scrutiny


  18. Is Scientology's Narconon Killing Patients?

    With seven deaths since 2005, Scientology's Narconon flagship may finally face criminal charges. The bigger scandal is that faith-based addiction programs are embraced as primary treatment. Where does that leave AA?

    By Maia Szalavitz, The Fix July 30, 2012

    Narconon, the Scientology-affiliated rehab is under investigation by the state of Oklahoma, following three patient deaths within the last nine months. Last Wednesday, the inquiry into the July 19 death of 20-year-old Stacy Murphy was expanded to include the April death of 21-year-old Hillary Holten and the October death of 32-year-old Gabriel Graves. The state district attorney has asked the sheriff’s department to deepen its investigation.

    The involvement of law-enforcement agencies—not simply regulatory authorities—suggests the possibility of criminal charges against those involved with the deaths. The facility, Narconon Arrowhead, is located near Canadian, Oklahoma. It is not only licensed by the state and listed on the federal addiction program locator, but also accredited by CARF, an organization that claims on its website to “focus on quality, results” in certifying treatment programs.

    The 2009 death of 28-year-old Kaysie Dianne Wernick, who was transferred from Narconon Arrowhead to a nearby hospital while suffering a respiratory infection, resulted in an out-of-court settlement of a civil negligence lawsuit, the terms of which have not been disclosed. There have been three other deaths at that Narconon facility alone since 2005. Over the years, as The Fix has reported, numerous deaths and many lawsuits have been linked to the international Narconon program.

    Oklahoma assistant district attorney Richard Hull told the Tulsa World that, “After looking at the [earlier] report and additional witness statements, the District Attorney’s Office has requested the Sheriff’s Office to further investigate,” and that full autopsy and toxicology reports have not yet been received. A spokesperson for Narconon Arrowhead told Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly that program staff found the deaths “deeply saddening” and their loss “has taken an extreme emotional toll on us as well.” Narconon representatives have also told the media that they are cooperating fully with the investigation.

    As The Fix reported earlier, the Narconon program is based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s “Purification Rundown,” which was originally devised as part of the process required for conversion into Scientology. It involves taking high doses of vitamins and spending four to five hours a day in 150-degree saunas. This is believed to “detoxify” the body and remove drug “residue” that Hubbard claimed was responsible for craving.

    There is no scientific evidence, however, that drug “residue” causes craving or that mega-doses of vitamins and marathon super-hot saunas are effective elements in addiction treatment. Indeed, for people who are medically fragile or who have recently taken certain classes of drugs including alcohol, amphetamines and cocaine, intense heat without breaks for relief could potentially lead to hyperthermia, which can be deadly. One study found that 25% of deaths in saunas were associated with alcohol or stimulant use.

    Narconon also shares Scientology’s fierce opposition to psychiatry and the use of psychiatric medications, meaning that even if the rest of its methods were evidence-based, it would not be able to effectively treat half of all people with addictions who suffer from co-existing conditions like depression, nor would it utilize the state-of-the-art treatments that include medication. The belief that all psychiatric conditions can be treated via Hubbard’s techniques would not seem to support effective screening and referral for care for these disorders.

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    In fact, when Narconon was originally fishing for official and popular support to build Narconon Arrowhead rehab in the late 1980s, the Oklahoma State Board of Mental Health flatly denied approval, pointing out that there was no credible evidence that the program (which also included indoctrination in the teachings of Hubbard) was effective for chemical dependency and that evidence-based effective addiction treatment suggests that, on the contrary, Narconon is very unlikely to work. Nonetheless, Narconon purchased tribal land, without disclosing its ties to Scientology (its typical MO), and got the rehab up and running. Eventually, despite a flurry of negative publicity, it was able to win state-board approval.

    Although each Narconon is, at least on paper, independently owned and operated, the Church of Scientology holds the license. Many, if not most, of the staff at the several dozen Narconon rehabs worldwide are Scientologists, and according to many former patients, the implicit goal of the Narconon treatment program is to turn addicts, who may pay tens of thousands of dollars for their rehab stay, into Scientology converts.

    All of which raises the question: how on earth has such a program managed to be licensed in numerous states, listed on federal registries of addiction treatment and even accredited by organizations that are supposed to ensure quality and high standards of care?

    Narconon is, to some extent, a special case in the rehab industry. As a de-facto extension of Scientology, it can deploy all of that organization’s infamously sophisticated strategies against opponents, including extreme litigiousness and PR and, reportedly, even threats of violence against whistleblowers.

    Yet in a larger sense, Narconon’s decades-long viability as a legitimate rehab comes down to the ongoing belief that faith-based treatments, while not permitted as primary care in the rest of the medical system, are acceptable for addictions. There is no other disease or disorder for which a Scientology-based treatment that has been thoroughly discredited by science could win such acceptance. There is no other medical condition for which faith-based programs from multiple religions that also “pray away the gay” are considered part of mainstream care. There is no other medical condition, in fact, for which prayer and meeting are seen as a main element of recovery.

    While for mental illness, use of punitive measures like restraint, isolation, humiliation and corporal punishment have long been dismissed as barbaric, even late into the 20th century these were regular features of addiction treatment—and some programs still rely on them, particularly those aimed at teens. One reason that they have been so difficult to root out is that faith, not evidence, remains an acceptable basis for treatment models.

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    If we are to improve addiction treatment, faith-based care should be as unacceptable as the primary treatment as it is for cancer or heart disease. And that means that supporters of twelve-step programs will have to make some big changes. If addiction is a disease, meeting and prayer can be viewed no longer as treatment for it but merely as adjuncts to care—as they are for other medical conditions. If addiction is a disease, twelve-step material cannot be used in rehab itself— referrals to meetings can be made, information can be provided, and even onsite meetings made available, but counseling can’t consist of use of the steps. That’s just not how medicine or mainstream psychology is practiced.

    As with other conditions, the spiritual aspects of the problem—for those who find them important or believe they exist at all—need to be kept separate from medical and psychological care. Otherwise, there will be no way to prevent religious ideas from being sold as treatment: if rehabs can sell programs based on the confession, surrender and faith aspect of AA, why shouldn’t they be able to sell Scientology?

    And if they can sell Scientology, why not any belief about treatment anyone wants to promote? There’s no way to set standards of care when your treatment relies on a higher power: if God, why not Xenu?

    Some will argue that twelve-step facilitation—a manualized treatment that involves introduction to the steps and encouragement of participation in the program—has been shown in some studies to be as effective as more standard “evidence-based” programs like motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy. They will point to research showing that those who do affiliate with AA or NA do better in the long term than those who do not.

    But that doesn’t make AA a type of medicine any more than depression recovery through social support is a type of medical care. The mind and body are not separate, and belief certainly can play a role in healing. That doesn’t mean the main medicine for any disorder should be faith. If we continue to allow this, we shouldn’t be surprised when people die in addiction treatment. Medicine itself only advanced and stopped killing more people than it helped when it began to rely on data rather than faith: we need to hold addiction care to this standard, too.

    Maia Szalavitz is a columnist at The Fix. She is also a health reporter at Time magazine online, and co-author, with Bruce Perry, of Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential—and Endangered (Morrow, 2010), and author of Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids (Riverhead, 2006).

    to view the links embedded in this article go to:


  21. Narconon deaths investigation expands

    By Jeanne LeFlore, McAlester News-Capital - The Muskogee Phoenix August 7, 2012

    McALESTER – The district attorney’s office has confirmed that an investigation into four deaths at Narconon Arrowhead now involves the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health while a sheriff’s inquiry has expanded with a request for more records.

    “The Inspector General is looking into the consumer aspect of compliance with the Department of Mental Health,” said District 18 Assistant District Attorney Richard Hull said Monday.

    Narconon Arrowhead is a nonprofit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Canadian with affiliation with the Church of Scientology that has been under investigation since the July 19 death of Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso.

    The investigation has expanded to include three other deaths: Hillary Holten, 21, who was found dead at Narconon Arrowhead in April; Gabriel Graves, 32, who died at the facility in October, and Kaysie Dianne Werninck, 28, who died in 2009, according to Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns.

    A death scene investigation report of Murphy’s death from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was handed over recently to Kerns and to the District 18 District Attorney’s office.

    Assistant DA Richard Hull confirmed Monday morning that the state department of mental health was at Narconon Arrowhead on Thursday.

    Hull said the mental health agency is looking into the facility’s licensing provisions and other issues.

    “They sent two investigative units Thursday and Friday to look at licensing provisions and the procedures that (Narconon Arrowhead) has in place,” Hull said.

    Kerns said his deputies escorted the mental health investigators to Narconon Arrowhead for their investigation.

    On Friday, the sheriff said his agency has expanded its investigation. He said deputies visited Narconon Arrowhead on Friday to request records including surveillance video tape and all records associated with the recent deaths.

    “We requested everything including video and documentation,” he said.

    He said Narconon was compliant.

    “They gave us everything we asked for,” Kerns said.

    Meanwhile, Assistant DA Hull said he spoke with Stacy Murphy’s father soon after her death.

    “Its a difficult case,” Hull said. “I spent about an hour on the phone with him. As a father, he had lots of questions.”

    Hull said the district attorney’s office is waiting on the autopsy and toxicological reports before making a decision on where the investigation will lead.

    “It will take about four to six weeks,” he said.


  22. Protest Planned At Scientology Based Drug Rehab Center In Oklahoma

    By Dana Hertneky, News 9 SAYRE, Oklahoma Aug 20, 2012

    The heat continues to build against a Scientology based drug rehab center on Lake Eufaula.

    A protest is planned for the facility this weekend, as a State Senator says he will try to shut down the controversial program.

    All that is addition to lawsuits from all three families of those who recently died at the facility that could be filed as early as this week.

    Gabriel Graves, Hillary Holton and Stacey Murphy were all under the care of Narconon's Arrowhead facility within the last nine months when they died.

    "The bottom line is three deaths in nine months is unacceptable, if this was a state run facility they would have been shut down immediately," said Sen. Tom Ivester (D) Sayer.

    Narconon is licensed by the state as a non-medical rehab facility which means it's not regulated as closely as a medical program.

    But Senator Ivester of Sayer says he will begin pushing for stricter regulations of what he calls unorthodox drug treatment programs like Narconon.

    "I'd like to see a regulated facility that's safe for its patients and a legitimate rehab facility, that's not a rip off or just a scam," said Ivester.

    Former patients have told News 9 Narconon's drug treatment involves high doses of the vitamin Niacin, and five hours in a Sauna.

    Attorney's representing those who have died at the facility also allege there isn't proper medical staff on hand and patients are denied essential medication.

    The CEO of Narconon argues the facility employees 190 rehabilitation and nursing staff.

    But Ivester says clearly something isn't right and he vows to do what he can to stop it.

    "I want the facility to be safe and secure for the patients that are there and second I want a reputable drug treatment center," said Ivester. "We owe that to the citizens."

    That protest of the facility is this Saturday from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m.

    The state department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and the Pittsburg County District Attorney's office is investigating the facility.


  23. Young woman's parents file suit in Scientology-related rehab facility death

    By JARREL WADE, Tulsa World Staff Writer August 24, 2012

    McALESTER - The parents of a 21-year-old Texas woman who died this spring after spending two days at an Oklahoma rehab facility rooted in Scientology filed a lawsuit against the organization Thursday, court records show.

    Hillary Holten of Carrolton, Texas, died April 11 after entering Narconon Arrowhead, a nonmedical drug-detoxification facility on Lake Eufaula near McAlester.

    Holten is one of three Narconon Arrowhead patrons to die since October. As a result of those deaths, the facility is being investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

    Other recent deaths at the facility include those of Stacy Murphy, 20, of Owasso on July 19 and of Gabriel Graves, 32, of Claremore on Oct. 26.

    The lawsuit involving Holten is the first and only lawsuit filed since the investigation began, records show.

    The suit, which lists Holten's parents, Matthew and Suzan Holten, as plaintiffs, alleges negligence by the organization for accepting Holten into their program given Holten's medical condition.

    Holten's autopsy report has not yet been released by the state Medical Examiner's Office, the Holtens' attorney, Michael Atkinson, said.

    "Plaintiffs contend that the agents, servants and employees of Narconon Arrowhead lacked sufficient training to properly evaluate and understand the serious nature of Hillary's condition," the lawsuit alleges.

    Listed as defendants are Narconon of Oklahoma, Narconon International and the Association for Better Living and Education International.

    According to the lawsuit, Holten had congenital adrenal hyperplasia and required daily medication.

    Also, Holten tested positive for drugs while she was a patient in a Texas hospital about nine days before going to Narconon, the lawsuit says.

    While at the hospital, she was in intensive care and on a ventilator, the lawsuit says.

    Personnel at Narconon assured Holten's parents that the facility had adequate staff, including registered nurses and a medical director, to manage the condition, the lawsuit alleges.

    The U.S. National Library of Medicine says people with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, an adrenal gland disorder, "usually have good health" when treated.


  24. Narconon CEO: Facility pays recruiters to find patients

    JAMES GIBBARD, Tulsa World Augut 26, 2012

    The CEO of Narconon Arrowhead told the Tulsa World last week the facility offers a "finder's fee" to find drug rehabilitation patients, which he said is a common practice among rehab facilities.

    Narconon Arrowhead CEO Gary W. Smith said the facility pays finder's fees to about a dozen interventionists or "field representatives" on a regular basis.

    "We're not the only program that does this," Smith said. "It's not an uncommon practice."

    Drug addiction counselors and former students of Narconon also confirmed they make tens of thousands every year from finder's fees and more from interventions. All said a finder's fee has no bearing on where they recommend a drug addict go for rehab.

    The facility is under investigation following three patient deaths there in less than a year.

    An investigation of Narconon by the Tulsa World also found a network of more than 200 websites.

    It's not unusual for the families of people addicted to drugs to turn to the Internet for help. Hillary Holten's family did it. Stacy Murphy's family did, too, according to family spokesmen.

    Murphy, a 20-year-old from Owasso, and Holten, a 21-year-old from Carrollton, Texas, found their way to Narconon Arrowhead, a drug detoxification center rooted in Scientology.

    Both women, "students" of the facility, died there before completing the program. Murphy died July 19 and Holten on April 11.

    Since their deaths and the October 2011 death of Gabriel Graves, a 32-year-old Claremore man, the drug rehab facility has been under investigation by multiple state agencies for alleged criminal and statutory violations, agency officials have confirmed.

    Several former Narconon students and families of students interviewed by the World said they contacted drug addiction counselors through various websites. The counselors then recommended the family look into Narconon for rehab.

    Search the Internet for help with drug rehab, and there's a chance you'll find one of 235 websites owned and operated by Dena Goad of Bixby. Goad owns her own business involving 1-800 hotline numbers attached to her websites, she said.

    Her 235 websites include OklahomaDrugRehabs.net, HeroinAddictionTreatments.net, MethRehab.org and AddictionTreatmentTexas.org, according to the sites' registration.

    Goad, who said she was a former drug addict, graduated from Narconon before she started her business several years ago. She said it was the only rehabilitation that worked for her after about five attempts to get clean. Goad's family found Narconon through an Internet search, she said.

    Goad and her husband, Christopher Clancy, do interventions for people around the nation, she said.

    "My husband is a world-renowned interventionist," she said. "Most interventionists charge around 10 grand plus expenses" for an intervention.

    Clancy charges between $500 and $750 usually, plus airfare if he flies, Goad said.

    On top of the intervention fee, Goad earns a "finder's fee" from drug rehabs, usually 2 percent to 5 percent of whatever the patient eventually pays to the facility, she said.

    "It's different for each facility," she said. "It's become a pretty well-known thing that they offer finder's fees."

    According to Narconon's IRS filings as a nonprofit, the program paid $161,757 to Goad in 2008.

    Goad said she recommends Narconon only if it's the right fit for the individual. About 50 people per month enter rehab through Goad's business, she said.

    continued in next comment...

  25. continued from previous comment:

    Fee practice

    Michael Brose, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, said offering a finder's fee is a questionable practice.

    "We, as an advocacy program, find that unethical and inappropriate," Brose said.

    Smith declined to be specific about the amount of finder's fees.

    "It depends," he said. "I'll just leave it at that. It depends."

    Smith said the rehab facility's own 800 hotline gets nearly 2,000 calls per week and can only accept 10 people at the most.

    Asked why the organization needs to pay a finder's fee if it gets 2,000 calls a week, Smith said it's the facility's policy.

    "That's the way we are set up, so I don't know what to tell you," he said. "Again, we're not the only one that does this. It doesn't violate any law."

    The organization's 2008, 2009 and 2010 tax filings don't specify how much was spent on finder's fees but lists more than $4 million spent on salaries, other compensation and employee benefits in 2010.

    Goad's contracted service in the 2008 filing amounted to more than $161,000, records show.

    Smith confirmed Goad's services were for finder's fees.

    Narconon in Oklahoma

    Narconon has had a 20-year history in Oklahoma, and its parent company, Narconon International, has rehabilitation programs across the world, according to information produced by the company. The programs include more than 20 in the U.S. and programs in the Netherlands, Ukraine, Taiwan, Spain, South Africa and more, the company claims.

    Narconon Arrowhead, the Oklahoma branch and flagship training site for other programs, has treated more than 10,000 people for drug addiction since beginning in the state and boasts a success rate higher than 70 percent, according to a press release sent by the organization.

    The Narconon program has become a target of national criticism and virtual attacks by the online hacker-backed group Anonymous due to its deep ties to Scientology.

    "When these guys are involved, things just get agitated," Smith said about Anonymous. "These guys have been involved since the beginning. I've got licensed counselors, and they've put in fictitious complaints against them."

    The program's unorthodox approach to treatment includes five-hour daily sauna sessions and ingesting vitamins. Additionally, the patrons, known as students, go through training based on teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, according to literature used at the facility.

    Narconon currently has about 170 staff members, Smith said. Among the staff are seven licensed practical nurses, one medical director who is a licensed doctor of osteopathic medicine, three licensed alcohol and drug counselors and about 33 other specially trained or certified staff, according to a press release.

    Smith maintains the organization's stance that the program has not violated any laws or certification requirements.

    "We totally understand the situation," he said. "We've been cooperating with all the authorities all along."

    The Oklahoma program is currently certified through the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The state Health Department is also involved in the Narconon investigation to determine whether all certification standards have been met, a department spokesman confirmed.

    Investigations by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office are also ongoing.

    Narconon is further accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

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  26. continued from previous comment:

    Al Whitehurst, a spokesman for the commission, said he could not confirm or deny whether the organization has begun any investigation stemming from the recent deaths.

    Whitehurst said Narconon has an accreditation level "with stipulations" that require Narconon to file ongoing reports about certain incidents. Whitehurst would not elaborate based on company policy.

    Intervention for a living

    Smith confirmed that Holly Lyn Conklin is among the interventionists who frequently gain finder's fees from Narconon. Conklin owns and operates Angel Intervention and InterventionAngel.com in Tulsa.

    Conklin began the intervention organization about six months after graduating and working at Narconon for a year, she said.

    "I'm a little, tiny female. A lot of people didn't think I could do intervention," she said. "I refer people to programs all over the world - (programs that are) free, state funded, 12-step, non-12-step, holistic."

    A man who was granted anonymity by the World due to concerns about his current job said when he went through the Narconon program, they offered "field representative training" for graduates.

    The training allows graduates to earn money by recruiting people to Narconon, he said.

    The man said Conklin recruited him to the program after she was brought to do an intervention for his addiction at a cost of more than $3,000.

    Conklin said her base rate is $2,000 to $2,500 per intervention, but she often does them for free for people who can't afford them.

    The man asked Conklin about a program he had heard about in Sedona, Ariz., but Conklin said it wasn't good and pointed him toward Narconon, he said.

    "She was pushing Narconon big time," he said. "She was a bounty hunter."

    Conklin said she does not send the people she helps to Narconon more than any other program.

    "I don't care where they go," she said. "I care that they go somewhere."

    Goad and Conklin said finder's fees at Narconon range from 2 percent to 5 percent of whatever the person in rehab eventually pays to the facility for treatment.

    Goad said the average rate for the first phase of the program was about $27,000 per patient.

    The man said he lost more than $20,000 going through the program but was glad to be done with the "strange" experience.

    "I don't know how they define success," he said. "Most of the people there were there for the second or third time."

    Families, friends of deceased protest facility

    A group of about 40 friends and family to recently deceased Narconon Arrowhead students protested outside the complex Saturday, chanting for justice and using a megaphone to reach people inside.

    Robert Murphy, father of 20-year-old Stacy Murphy, began the protest with a prayer. Stacy Murphy died July 19.

    "We pray for all the grieving families who have lost children," he said.

    The protesters, who included at least three people who said they were members of the online activist group Anonymous, held signs and chanted for justice.

    Also at the protest was the mother of 32-year-old Gabriel Graves, a Claremore man who died at the facility in October 2011.

    Shirley Anne Gilliam said immediately after Graves' death, she received about six or seven anonymous phone calls from students telling her Gabriel's death was suspicious.

    "The kids were terrified," she said.

    Gilliam said she was protesting to encourage authorities to shut down the facility.


  27. Narconon Debunked by its own Expert

    By Pete Combs, WSB Radio Monday, Oct. 1, 2012

    Narconon describes itself as an “alternative” drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that emphasizes communication, self-control and drug-free detoxification in accordance with the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the late science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology.

    The program claims a “success rate” of up to 76-percent. But even the organization’s own expert court witness in the lawsuit filed by Patrick Desmond’s parents against Narconon of Georgia cast doubt on that figure. 

    Speaking during a deposition in the case, Dr. Louis A. Casal was asked by plaintiff’s attorney Jeff Harris if he believe that 76-percent success ratio to be accurate. Below is part of that deposition:

    Dr. Casal: Mr. Harris, I'll be honest with you, that's a big number.

    Attorney Harris: Yeah, it's -- it's a real big number.

    Casal: It's a big number.

    Harris: And it's completely inconsistent…

    Casal: I hope it's true, but, 1 mean, I would need some convincing.

    Harris: Yeah, well, it's completely inconsistent with what most drug and alcohol treatment facilities experience in terms of their success rate; you'd agree with that?

    Casal: Yes, I would.

    Harris: And what is a success -- well, first of all how do we define success rate?

    Casal: Abstinence to a certain number of years, depending on how mu -- how far out you want to -- you know, complete abstinence for either six, 12 or 24 months is what I've seen in the literature, and -- and the numbers vary quite -- largely anywhere between, you know, roughly speaking, 20 to 80 percent is -- is what I've seen in –

    Harris: Depending upon how far you go out in terms of the length of time that they've abstained?
    Casal: Yes, sir. Right. How many people have -- are still abstinent after six months or 12 months or 24 months. And the numbers are all over the -- all over the map. You know, I can answer --I can give you an answer to the question I'm thinking about. I'm thinking, you know, if I had one-third of my patients sober after one year, I would be jumping for joy.

    The extended use of a sauna and extremely high doses of niacin are also key parts of the Narconon detoxification program (see “Narconon Program Description” http://www.wsbradio.com/documents/2012/sep/30/narconon-program-description/). Clients take hundreds of milligrams of niacin and sit in the sauna for periods of up to five hours except for short break periods with the idea that the vitamin and heat together rid their bodies of the toxins associated with drug addiction. Again, during his deposition in the Patrick Desmond case, Narconon’s expert witness, Dr. Casal, admitted that was not true.
    HARRIS:  Have you looked at the Narconon literature on what Narconon contends the benefits from the sauna program are?

    CASAL: Yes, I have.

    HARRIS:  And the sauna program, what Narconon contends is that in -- it in fact detoxifies your body. True?

    CASAL: True.

    HARRIS:  But there's no scientific basis that you can point me to to support that contention, is there, sir?

    CASAL: You're correct.

    HARRIS:  So when Narconon states that the sauna program detoxifies its students, you're not aware, as a medical
    doctor, of any scientific basis for that contention?

    CASAL: I agree.

    HARRIS:  The vitamin regimen. You're familiar with the vitamin regimen?

    CASAL: Yes, sir.

    HARRIS:  What -- do you have an opinion about whether or not the vitamin regimen is effective at treating

    CASAL: I believe that it has very likely no bearing whatsoever on the treatment of addiction.


  28. The Narconon-Scientology Connection

    By Pete Combs, WSB Radio Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012

    When Patrick Desmond died of a drug and alcohol overdose while a patient at Narconon of Georgia on June 11, 2008, one of the first things the organization’s executive director did was report it – not to state regulators, but to the Church of Scientology and the leader of a church-run secular organization.

    “Narconon is, essentially it is scientology. And they're trying to pretend that it's not,” said Canton native Luke Catton. “There is no real separation, it's only on paper, it's only corporate separation, it's not like there's a difference between Narconon and Scientology, it is part of Scientology, it is Scientology.”

    The son of former Scientologists, Catton became president of Narconon’s flagship U.S. rehabilitation facility, Narconon Arrowhead in Canadian, Oklahoma at the age of 23. He also rose to a high position within the Church of Scientology before leaving the faith. Now, like others who have fallen away from Scientology, he has been labeled a “Suppressive Person” (S.P.) by his former fellow congregants. He is shunned and ridiculed by them.

    Catton contends Narconon has two goals: recruit people into the Church of Scientology and make money. Helping people with drug and alcohol addiction is, he said, a means to those ends.
    “The greater purpose is to indoctrinate people to become scientologists,” he said.

    When he was president of Narconon Arrowhead, Catton said the facility would receive daily calls from executives at Narconon International asking for updates – but not about the progress of patient treatment.

    “The executive director of Narconon International used to call into Arrowhead every day wanting to know… the gross income – GI – ‘what’s the G-I at?’ He wouldn't call and say ‘how many graduates do you have?’ He wouldn't call and say ‘What's your success rate like right now? How's your retention rate?’ He wouldn't ask those things, he'd call and want to know how much money was in,” said Catton.

    Catton estimated that together, the Narconon facilities in the U.S. earn approximately $1 million a week in “G-I.”

    Of the money each center such as Narconon of Georgia earns, Catton said ten-percent is sent to Narconon International in the form of a licensing fee for the Scientology-based materials used in drug and alcohol rehabilitation and education. In turn, he continued, Narconon International pays ten-percent of its revenue to the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), a secular organization operated by the Church of Scientology.

    Narconon of Georgia Executive Director Mary Rieser has repeatedly denied any connection between her organization and the Church of Scientology.

    “I am a scientologist, that's my church. But they don't manage here. That's my church,” she said during an interview in her office. Tucked away under her desk were leather bound books on Scientology. She became extremely flustered when a television photographer stepped behind her desk in the course of shooting an interview and demanded to know whether he had taken pictures of the books. He had not.

    So, if the Church of Scientology doesn’t manage Narconon of Georgia, why, then, did Rieser report events surrounding the death of Patrick Desmond to the director of special affairs at the local Church of Scientology and the Office of Special Affairs at Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles?

    “Well I'm not gonna speak to why I did that,” she replied, “but that's not a governing body for me. That is my church so I don't know… if I'd been a Baptist I might have told my church.”
    Catton refutes that absolutely.

    “It’s well known protocol that when you have a legal situation such as this (the death of Patrick Desmond), that’s so devastating, you need to contact church representatives from the Office of Special Affairs or the local director of Special Affairs which,” he said, pointing to the address line on the email memo,” is done here.

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  29. “It goes to Narconon International, ABLE International, to the local church and to the church international through the Office of Special Affairs.”

    The memo to which Catton referred was held under court seal in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Patrick Desmond’s family at Narconon’s request and was released only last month.
    Another memo released at the same time also indicates the intertwined nature of Narconon and the Church of Scientology as well as ABLE’s active hand in the minutia of Narconon of Georgia’s affairs.

    Entitled “Things That Shouldn’t Be,” the memo chronicles Reiser’s difficulties with another Scientologist, Maria Delgado. The Desmond family contends when Reiser could not obtain a state license for an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility, she had Delgado and her husband, Don, set up a corporation through which she could provide housing to her patients anyway. But the relationship between Rieser and the Delgados soured when Maria and Don, who formed their company while still employeed at Narconon, divorced. By that time, security among the Sandy Springs apartments Delgado rented for Narconon patients had become almost nonexistent.

    Then the Church of Scientology International sent a mission that included the executive director of ABLE. The mission shuffled staff within the local church and within Delgado Development. Don was replaced with Maria’s new fiancé on orders from the church mission.

    “The purpose of Narconon and housing seemed to have become to support org (church) staff,” Rieser wrote.

    As conditions in patient housing continued to deteriorate, Rieser wrote, she tried to get other Scientology-affiliated organizations to intervene with Maria Delgado. But, she complained, Delgado was too high-ranking within the church.

    Rieser wrote about checking on Narconon patients after hours during this period in 2008. “A few times, I found liquor and drug paraphernalia. I called the cops about a drug dealer who was dropping off heroin and I was on the prowl around several apartments looking for dealers. I felt the students were in danger and felt pretty alone at handling a dangerous scene.”

    When questioned about security at the apartments she rented for Narconon patients at the Sovereign Place complex in Sandy Springs, Maria Delgado said she did try to heighten security.

    “You know, (by making) sure that the montirs were going, putting more policies in (place),” she testified in a deposition. She also said she increased the use of Breathalyzers and urinalysis drug tests. But she also admitted that the results were never documented.

    The Delgados, who were named in the Desmonds’ lawsuit, have now settled out of court.
    If it was that dangerous, then why not shut down housing? Even after Patrick Desmond got drunk, left with two former patients, shot heroin and died, Narconon and Delgado Development both continued to accept patients. Neither issued warnings to residents or their families. Catton said neither the church nor its affiliates would have allowed that.

    “They have such intense pressure to make money every single week that to say, ‘Whoa,  things aren't okay, we can't bring anybody in for a couple of weeks’ would  not have  been acceptable to Narconon International, to ABLE, to the church to anybody. It's not acceptable to not make money,” Catton said.

    Catton shook his head in amazement when looking at the two Reiser memos.

    “I’ve never seen anything like this in public before now,” he said. “For people to know that obviously there is a direct channel between Narconon and the churches and the church international… it completely refutes anything they’re trying to say that they are separate.

    There are orders taken, there are orders given that run back and forth. It is not an entirely separate organization. This demonstrates very clearly the connection between them. It’s not just the connection. It is a direct channel.”


  30. Letter from Narconon Georgia Board of Directors

    WSB Atlanta, October 4, 2012

    The following is an email sent by Narconon Georgia's board of directors in response to the Channel 2 Action News investigation.

    From: Narconon Georgia
    Date: October 4, 2012
    To: Fleischer, Jodie
    Subject:From the Board of Directors Narconon of Georgia

    We are disappointed that the Channel 2 reports that aired in the last three days have been very misleading. WSB News presented these reports as if they were based on recent news, when they arose from an incident that happened more than four years ago that is the subject of a current lawsuit. We are especially surprised at what seems to be an attempt to try a case through the media, a practice, which to our understanding, is against the rules governing the actions of attorneys in the state of Georgia.

    Contrary to your recent reports, the Narconon program is not about religion. In fact, most of the students of Narconon Georgia are Christians who go to Church every Sunday. Like other recovery programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, we believe that faith is an important part of recovery and, while Narconon is a non-religious program, our staff have always encouraged our clients to practice their own personal religious beliefs.

    Many people who work at Narconon understand the problem of drugs first-hand. For example, Ms. Rieser experienced drug abuse in her own family 17 years ago and was forced to face a situation that she and Narconon now help families face every day. It is never easy as a parent to deal with a child who is abusing drugs and it is even more difficult to face the inner demons that can taunt one. “Was there something I should have done differently?” “How could I have avoided this?” “Will it ever get better?”

    The staff of Narconon, or of any rehab for that matter, know that ultimately, no matter what the cause of the addiction is, the success of any drug rehabilitation treatment program depends on the commitment and desire of the addict to recover from his or her addictions. Any recovering drug addict will tell you that they know that the decision to stay clean is up to them.

    This is why many Narconon students and families who viewed your recent reports have told us that they will continue to support us. The vast majority of our students and their families know that our program is based on the facts of addiction treatment, education and recovery. The sad thing is, many people really don’t care about drug addicts and have long ago written them off as some kind of scourge who are not worth helping.

    However, Narconon and its staff have not and will not write drug addicts off, despite any and all efforts to try and convince them to do otherwise. There are still too many that need real help.

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  31. continued from previous comment...

    The worn out and false allegations that you aired are also repeatedly stated by members of the “anonymous” group, made up of individuals who like WSB News, have never had any personal dealings with Narconon.

    The real truth is that Narconon of Georgia is a fully licensed, outpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. Every single inspection by our state resulting from the false allegations you aired, claiming that Narconon of Georgia is running a residential rehab, have resulted in a DCH finding that explicitly rejects these allegations.

    Narconon of Georgia has fully cooperated in every inspection launched by the state of Georgia and it will continue to do so in the future. The state has concluded in the past that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations that Narconon was running a residential center, and Narconon is confident that any new inspection will yield the exact same results.

    Both the state of Georgia and Narconon’s resources have been overtaxed by these repeated attempts by the “anonymous” group to divert attention off of our respective duties – duties that involve the welfare of others. We consider this to be dangerous to our students and their recovery.

    In contrast to the hate group “anonymous,” Narconon staff members continue to effectively help thousands across the world. Sometimes, despite all efforts, addicts make bad decisions that turn tragic. This is a cause of great sadness for all who worked with them and tried to help them. However, it makes no sense to attack the people who try to and do help addicts on a daily basis. We need more people helping addicts within our communities. WSB News should not be trying to use four-year-old stories that are in current litigation to try to damage those who are doing their best to help individuals in our community who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.

    The real story, which WSB chose to ignore, is that, according to CDC statistics, at least 100 people die each day from prescription drug overdose. By way of example of the magnitude of the problem, according to a report by DrugWarFacts.org, the National Center for Health Statistics in 2009, 36,450 people died of drug overdoses and 23,199 died of alcohol induced causes.

    We suggest that WSB News shift this public discussion to something that is based on facts and not emotion, and helps us and our communities to solve the problem of drug and alcohol abuse.


    Board of Directors

    Narconon of Georgia


  32. Father whose daughter died at Narconon shocked by Scientology belief

    By Russell Mills, KRMG TULSA, Oklahoma October 10, 2012

    An Owasso man whose daughter died of an apparent drug overdose while at a drug treatment facility says he wants the place fixed or shut down and he wants the world to know about its roots in the Church of Scientology and what that organization's beliefs entail.

    Robert Murphy's daughter, Stacy Dawn Murphy, died at Narconon Arrowhead July 19.

    The facility claims it has medical personnel "on staff" 24 hours a day but what they don't say is that "on staff" does not mean "on site," Murphy says.

    "You believe they have a 24-hour physician in the building and all these nurses in the building, (that's) what you hear when they say they have a 24-hour staff. Well in actuality they have'em on staff, but they're not in the premises," he says.

    Murphy's death is listed as "unattended," which would back up Robert Murphy's contention that his daughter was left in a room alone where she passed away from what appears to have been a drug overdose.

    The "on staff" medical personnel were apparently never notified.

    "They had her for ten-plus hours where they knew she was in an OD (overdose) situation and nobody did anything. No monitoring of her, no physician was called, no 911, didn't call her parents, nothing. Just put her in a room and left her to die," he told KRMG.

    Prior to Stacy's admission to Narconon Arrowhead, the family had been desperate for help and Narconon boasts an incredible 76 percent success rate, roughly three times the success rate of traditional treatment programs.

    "It sounds so appealing, a 76 percent success rate," Murphy told KRMG. "But in reality there's no clinical study to back it up."

    But they didn't know that at the time and they decided on Narconon despite the extremely high cost.

    "You're drawn to this '76 percent' and you're willing to believe it. You think you're getting more by paying more...what parent wouldn't pay whatever it takes to get results that work?" Murphy asks, rhetorically.

    Then, even as the shock of her death set in, Robert began taking a closer look at Narconon's underlying roots in the Church of Scientology.

    He hadn't really looked at the connection before Stacy's death.

    "They hide it so well, you don't ask about because you're still stuck on the fact, you're still thinking '76 percent success rate.' So you don't question 'is it Scientology,' it's just a book that they use."

    continued in next comment...

  33. continued from previous comment...

    Now, he says, he has a much darker opinion of Scientology and how he believes the "church" uses Narconon to gain followers and their money.

    "This is just science fiction. They believe in aliens that brought us here from other planets millions and millions of years ago. The things I've learned, it is so mind boggling that people, if you tell them, they just think you're making things up."

    It's the title "church" that he thinks throws a lot of people off.

    "Most people think 'church,' well that has to do with your traditional church, you know God, Jesus, along that line."

    But it's definitely not that kind of church and he says he believes it's a cult, or worse.

    "My opinion, it's a scam. It's just a way to draw money in and make you pay to achieve higher levels of their 'consciousness,' of their 'past lives.'"

    KRMG has called Narconon several times in recent months for comment on Stacy Dawn Murphy's death and the deaths of two other people at the facility within the space of a few months.

    They have not responded to our requests for comment and have not returned our calls.

    The Church of Scientology's website does address its involvement with Narconon.

    The webpage reads, in part:

    Scientologists helped sponsor the creation of Narconon Arrowhead. Established in 2001, this is the premier facility of the Narconon network. It stands amidst 216 acres of woodland on the shores of Lake Eufaula in southeastern Oklahoma. In addition to being the world’s largest residential facility of its kind, Narconon Arrowhead also serves as the international training center for drug rehabilitation specialists.

    Narconon is under fire on several fronts, with many websites dedicated to exposing the "truth" about its practices.

    If Robert Murphy has his way, lawmakers in Oklahoma will take a hard look at what's going on in Pittsburg County and the facility will change, or shut down.


  34. Third lawsuit filed against Narconon Arrowhead alleging wrongful death

    By JARREL WADE, Tulsa World Staff Writer October 25, 2012

    The family of a Claremore man who died while in drug rehab at the Narconon Arrowhead facility filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging negligence and wrongful death.

    The lawsuit filed by relatives of Gabriel Graves, a 32-year-old father of two who died Oct. 26, 2011, is the third against the rehab facility after three recent deaths spurred an ongoing, multiagency investigation.

    Hillary Holten, 21, of Carrollton, Texas, died April 11 at Narconon Arrowhead, records show. Stacy Murphy, 20, of Owasso died there July 19.

    The facility is on Lake Eufaula, northeast of McAlester.

    State Medical Examiner's Office reports concerning the deaths of Holten and Graves have shown that no cause or manner of death could be determined in either case.

    Murphy's autopsy is pending.

    The plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Wednesday is Graves' mother, Shirley Gilliam, who alleges that Narconon Arrowhead, its parent and related companies, and Narconon Medical Director Gerald D. Wootan were negligent in their care of her son.

    According to the lawsuit, Graves entered the program on Aug. 27, 2011, and repeatedly experienced symptoms of feeling ill, headaches and vomiting.

    As previously reported in the Tulsa World, a student - one of the Narconon program participants, as they're called - at the facility described Graves' death to the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in a letter of complaint in December, about a month after Graves' death.

    The letter appears to corroborate the lawsuit's claim that Graves was experiencing frequent headaches in Narconon Arrowhead's sauna program.

    The student also described "rampant" use and distribution of drugs by students and staff members at the facility, according to the letter obtained by the Tulsa World.

    Gilliam told the World in August that immediately after her son's death, she received six or seven phone calls - from people who purported to be Narconon students but who did not identify themselves by name - telling her that his death was suspicious.

    The callers were all terrified by Graves' death, Gilliam said.

    Graves' family is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 on each of three causes of action - wrongful death, negligence and violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act.

    Punitive damages also are requested "in an amount sufficient to punish the defendants and deter such reckless conduct in the future," according to a news release that announced the lawsuit.

    Original Print Headline: Third lawsuit filed linked to deaths at drug-rehab facility


  35. Inside Narconon, CEO Answers Accusations About Deaths In Rehab

    by Tess Maune, News On 6 McALESTER, Oklahoma October 31, 2012

    Amid mounting allegations of lies and cover ups, the leader of a controversial rehab facility with ties to Scientology is speaking out.

    Narconon Arrowhead, near McAlester, has been under the microscope for the past year, after three patients died while in the facility's care.

    In his only one-on-one interview, CEO Gary Smith sat down with News On 6 to address the allegations.

    There are more than 160 Narconon centers worldwide. The flagship site, Narconon Arrowhead, has been licensed in Oklahoma for 20 years.

    Gary Smith said no one died in the first 19 years of operation.

    And now, after a string of deaths, Smith said he wants to set the record straight—that Narconon is a safe place.

    Overlooking Lake Eufaula, in the wooded hills of Arrowhead State Park, sits a facility in the center of a firestorm.
    Gabriel Graves, Hillary Holten and Stacy Dawn Murphy all died while in the care of Narconon Arrowhead in a nine-month span.

    Stacy's mother, Tonya White, said she remembers getting the call that her daughter had died.

    "I just couldn't believe it. I just kept screaming, ‘No, no, this can't be,'" White said.
    Narconon has been operating in Oklahoma since 1992. President and CEO, Gary Smith is a devoted believer. He said the program helped him kick an addiction 36 years ago.

    "I've had it personally, I've helped people, I've seen what it does," said Smith. "Yes, it's very serious".
    According to Narconon International's website, the treatment the facility offers is based on teachings by author and Church of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard. A series of Hubbard's books are used to help rehabilitate those in therapy.

    "They try to teach you to be a Scientologist. That is my belief," said Shirley Gilliam, the mother of Gabriel Graves.

    While he admits the Church of Scientology is a supporter, Smith said his program is not a tool to recruit anyone to Scientology, and has no religious affiliation whatsoever.

    "It's not accurate to say to say it's Scientology-based, because Scientology is a religion," Smith said. "We are not a religion. You can look at all our materials—there is no religious philosophies or anything in any of the materials that the individuals study here. It's life-skills. We'll never be the Church of Scientology. We never were."

    Narconon graduate, and now employee, Niko Bain said religion was never talked about during treatment.

    "Everyone is so respectful of every single person, as an individual," said Bain. "They were so respectful of my religious beliefs. I was able to keep my own beliefs and no one ever tried to change them."

    Narconon is a non-medical rehab facility and a doctor is on site only one day a week. Drug addiction there, isn't treated with drugs, but by teaching communication and life skills, according to Smith.

    "First, realize what problem they were trying to solve by doing drugs or alcohol," said Smith. "Secondly, [try to] to help improve their life skills in the area of communication, problem solving, problem identification and also to help them improve their moral values."

    Nearly 75 percent of the staff is made up of Narconon graduates, according to Smith.

    "Ex-users helping users has always had its value. A person who's on drugs will trust an individual who they know has been on drugs, and they will be more honest with that person then," Smith said.

    Narconon staff must meet all state-required training before being hired. Smith said any former-addict must be stably recovered before they are allowed to start working one-on-one with those in the program. He also said that no one with
    a violent criminal history is eligible to work at Narconon.

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  36. "There are individuals, who did have problems way back, because of their and addiction, and have fully resolved it and have years of sobriety and have proved they are contributing members of society," Smith said.

    Possibly the most criticized practice is their sauna and exercise program. Smith said it eliminates cravings by sweating out toxins.

    "The idea there is to improve physical health. Most people that are addicted are in varying degrees of physical and nutritional deficiencies, let's just say," Smith said.

    Before starting treatment, Smith said clients must pass a physical exam.

    The program starts out with 30 minutes of light exercise, followed by four-and-a-half hours of sweating in a low, dry heat sauna, with cool down and hydration breaks.

    The treatment also includes a specific vitamin regimen, including Niacin.

    Smith said there are two types of Niacin: Immediate release, which he said is medically safe in high doses and sustained release, which he said can cause liver problems.

    "The Narconon sauna program uses IR Niacin and only IR Niacin," Smith said. "SR Niacin has never been used, because of the potential dangers associated with using it in high doses."

    Gilliam said her son started complaining of a severe headache after the sauna program, but was refused pain medication and couldn't get in to see the doctor.

    She claims Narconon promised a doctor would be on site 24 hours a day.

    "I know what happened was bad," Gilliam said.
    Smith told us Narconon prefers to treat nutritionally first, but does allow over-the-counter medications.

    "If they are medications that are needed to keep those potential life-threatening situations under control, that's incorporated as part of the treatment plan," Smith said.

    Narconon employs seven registered nurses. Smith said there is always a nurse on site, who will see patients at any time and the staff doctor is always on-call.

    Narconon advertises a 70 percent success rate—a number Smith said comes from a series of survey calls, following program completion.

    But there are still those three deaths, which remain a mystery.

    "It's a tough job. There's people that die from addiction every day," Smith said.

    When Gabriel Graves died last October, his mom said Narconon told her he overdosed. The medical examiner ruled that out, but couldn't determine how he died.

    Hilary Holten died in April. Her family claims she was refused medication for a medical condition.

    The medical examiner's report noted some bruises on her body, but ruled her death unknown.

    Then there's Stacy Murphy.

    "We went there for her to be cured, safe," said Stacy's father, Robert Murphy. "She had so much potential".

    Stacy turned up dead in the withdrawal unit in July. Her parents said they, too, were told their daughter died of an overdose, but the medical examiner has not determined how or why Stacy died.

    "We're not here to hurt people. We're here to help people," Smith said.

    Because of client confidentiality, Smith said he can't comment on specific cases.

    But he did tell The News On 6 that the circumstances surrounding the deaths were in no way related to the treatment received while at Narconon.

    "Unfortunately, death is part of addiction,"
    Smith said. "It's an ugly part, and it happens in rehab and out of rehab and nobody wants it to happen."

    The families of the three who died at Narconon have filed suits against the facility, all demanding changes.

    "My daughter's death could have been prevented, easily, easily. And I don't want her death to be in vain," Murphy said. "There's procedures that either have to be changed, or this place has to be shut down."

    Narconon Arrowhead is being investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

  37. I-Team: Patients Struggle at Scientology Rehab Center

    By Nathan Baca, Investigative Reporter KLAS-TV Oct 31, 2012
    By Alex Brauer, Photojournalist

    CALIENTE, Nev. -- Former patients and employees are speaking out about a Nevada drug rehab center they describe as having mold and lice – and requires patients to try to move objects with their mind.
    Narconon, an unlicensed rehabilitation center in Caliente, Nev., is connected to the Church of scientology, but many parents sending their children there claim they were never told that.

    The I-Team has been investigating Narconon for nearly three years. The center is about 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas in Lincoln County.

    It's rarely inspected and is isolated from the outside world.

    A break on the pool table for a game between a once-broken family, when a drug addiction tore the Vandergriend family apart.

    Justin Vandergriend, an opiate addict, went into therapy, paid for by his parents for a sum of $35,000.

    He described the therapy he received as not conventional.

    "Talking to walls, sitting two inches from somebody in a chair, looking them eye to eye," Vandergriend said, describing his therapy. "Almost as if you're trying to steal their soul and if you were to move, flinch, act irritated whatsoever, they would throw you out and put you back in for a new two hours."

    He also said he had 42 days of sauna detoxification treatments.

    "After 15,000 milligrams of niacin, it's pretty much a hot burn that goes through your skin," he said.


    Narconon's therapy books are written by the late L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

    Hubbard's religion taught that the body was infested by alien spirits he called thetans.

    Hubbard wrote in 1968 the spirits dated back 75 million years ago from a galactic civil war against an overlord named Xenu.

    "There was times they would throw an ashtray up there and they would say, ‘Try to levitate this with your mind. Control this ashtray,'" Vandergriend said.

    Recovering alcoholic John Anchondo is another former Narconon patient.

    "It's crazy," he said. "How do you tell an ashtray to lift up? I mean, come on."

    He said that inevitably failing the ashtray test set patients back.

    "They say, ‘You flunk,'" Anchondo said.

    After completing the program, Narconon chose Anchondo to sell the treatment plan to other families.

    Anchondo said Narconon deceptively markets themselves to parents.

    continued in next comment...

  38. Justin Vandergriend's mother, Camille, said she called a number of 800 numbers trying to find a drug rehab center for her son.

    "I talked to one gal who I was very impressed with and she in turn had a representative call me back," Camille Vandergriend said. "Unbeknownst to me, he was a representative from Narconon."

    A source currently employed at Narconon told the I-Team they buy up several of the top websites shown on Google for drug rehab, redirecting calls to a Narconon phone bank.

    "It was all bull****," Anchondo said. "The whole thing was to get them into our centers. If they didn't have money, then we'd refer them out to some homeless -- but man, I was good.

    Anchondo further claimed Narconon's finely-polished marketing effort was built on lies.

    "I'd tell them, ‘Look. Either they're going to die, or you know, send them to us.' I'm not going to lie to you. I did save a lot of people. The thing was, they didn't understand it was Scientology. You couldn't tell them that. It was like, why?'"

    Anchondo said the secrecy came from the "top of the brass."


    Caliente is the kind of town built around a train stop where the train doesn't stop anymore.

    There is one thing that does stops here -- people's willingness to talk on camera about Narconon.

    Just south of the town, the Narconon lodge is on a hillside surrounded by ranchland.

    The I-Team attempted to speak with Narconon management.

    At first, a woman named Kate approached the I-Team and declined an interview.

    Another manager a day later gave the I-Team a cease-and-desist letter.

    The I-Team then headed toward the former Caliente Hot Springs Motel in town.

    Narconon leases the motel and keeps patients there.

    "There's mold in our room," Justin Vandergriend said. "Within the first two nights, me and my roommate Yann were experiencing bites from bed bugs."

    After the I-Team's visit to Caliente, Narconon sent an overnight package to 8 News NOW.

    It included promotional materials and a letter from the executive director thanking the I-Team for their time and attention.

    Inside were dozens of testimonial letters from former patients. But because their names were not included, the I-Team cannot verify their statements.

    Vandergriend said he received the therapy he needed, not from Narconon, but from another drug rehab center.

    The smiles and the fun the Vandergriend family have now hide a pain -- a pain in feeling they nearly lost their son, not from what his family didn't do, but in where they chose to send him.

    Camille Vandergriend said she "absolutely" let her son down.


    Narconon is not licensed as a drug rehab facility in the state of Nevada but is allowed to operate because of what some officials call a gaping loophole.


  39. DeKalb judge sanctions Narconon of Georgia

    Victory for family of drug treatment patient

    By Jodie Fleischer WSB Atlanta November 8, 2012

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The family of a man who died while under the care of a local drug treatment facility won a huge court victory this week.

    DeKalb County State Court Judge Stacey Hydrick issued sanctions against Narconon of Georgia, finding the program's director lied under oath and hid evidence.

    "There's really nothing else that a judge can do that's stronger than what the judge has done here," said attorney Jeff Harris.

    Harris is representing the family of Patrick Desmond, who died in 2008 after trying heroin for the first time.

    Desmond was enrolled in Narconon of Georgia for alcohol addiction, but got drunk with a housing monitor, and left with two program flunkees. Later, the Desmonds found out the Gwinnett facility is only licensed as an outpatient program.

    "It breaks my heart. He wasn't cared for. I feel the whole place was just a total fake scam," Patrick's mother, Colleen Desmond, told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer in September. "We were assured all along the line this was an inpatient situation."

    During our investigation, we even caught Narconon's parent organization, Narconon International, advertising the program as residential on its website. The Desmonds say the Georgia program director, Mary Rieser, lied to them.

    In September, Rieser disputed that saying, "I will never knowingly accept somebody here if I know they've been ordered inpatient, because we're not."

    But Judge Hydrick's ruling says in hearings, Rieser's "responses were patently false," that Narconon of Georgia "repeatedly and willfully obstructed the discovery process," and even "falsely denied the existence of clearly relevant, responsive documents and information."

    "If you can't get those documents and can't get that evidence, you can't prove your case. The only way to make the punishment fit the crime is to basically deem the case as being admitted as true," said Harris.

    The judge ordered Narconon of Georgia's response to the initial complaint stricken from what the jury will be able to consider. That means the facility's attorneys cannot deny that it misrepresented itself, that it operated an illegal residential facility, and that negligence led to Patrick Desmond's death.

    Harris says the ruling for sanctions is so strong, lawyers often refer to it as the civil-case version of the death penalty.

    It doesn't bring Patrick back, but his parents say they don't want any other families misled.

    "At the end of the day, they've still lost their son. But all they really wanted in this case was justice, and I think we're getting a lot closer to getting that," said Harris.

    He said he will still introduce evidence to prove the level of damages he wants to the jury to award. He will also have to prove the claims made in a second complaint, which alleges racketeering, or a pattern of activity by Narconon of Georgia for financial gain.

    Narconon of Georgia could still appeal the judge's ruling for sanctions before the trial in February, or after the verdict.

    Fleischer's investigation also exposed how state inspectors had failed to crack down on the program for more than a decade.

    The Department of Community Health has since opened a new investigation to review all of the evidence from the court case, including this new finding by the judge.


  40. Autopsy of patient's death at Narconon shows overdose

    Tulsa World
    By JARREL WADE World Staff Writer

    Stacy Dawn Murphy, the most recent of three deaths at Narconon Arrowhead, died of an accidental overdose of oxymorphone, a prescription drug, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday by the state Medical Examiner's Office.

    Murphy's death at Narconon, a drug rehabilitation facility northeast of McAlester on Lake Eufaula, spurred an ongoing, multi-agency investigation into the facility's practices.

    The full autopsy report is still being completed, according to a spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner's Office.

    Murphy, 20, of Owasso died July 19 at Narconon after returning to the facility from a short leave of absence.

    Narconon Arrowhead is the flagship branch of an international drug-rehabilitation organization rooted in the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

    Murphy's family has a lawsuit pending against the Narconon program alleging a wrongful death and negligence.

    Gary Richardson, the attorney for Murphy's family, said the medical examiner's preliminary report proves what the family has known since her death.

    "As far as the determination of acute oxymorphone, that more or less comports with what we have understood from what we learned at the beginning," Richardson said. "Which simply says this young girl was not taken care of."

    When Murphy returned to Narconon, she was determined to be intoxicated, according to the family's lawsuit.

    She was allegedly taken to the onsite Withdrawal Unit the night of July 18 and was not correctly monitored before she was found dead at about 9:20 a.m., the lawsuit alleges.

    Oxymorphone is an opiate used to relieve moderate to severe pain, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine website. The drug works by changing how the body responds to pain.

    The investigation in the case has been led by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health.

    Officials with the Department of Mental Health have said the official autopsy report is one of several things they have been waiting on to complete their investigation, said Jeff Dismukes, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

    Other recent deaths at the facility include those of Gabriel Graves, 32, of Claremore and Hillary Holten, 21, of Carrollton, Texas.

    Graves died Oct. 26, 2011, and Holten died April 11.

    Graves' and Holten's full autopsy reports have been released, but their cause and manner of death were undetermined, according to the state medical examiner reports.

    The families of Graves and Holten have also filed civil lawsuits against Narconon alleging negligence.


  41. Narconon Arrowhead faces fourth lawsuit this year

    Mcalester News Capital
    By Jeanne Leflore Staff Writer, Mcalester News Capital November 27, 2012

    McALESTER — A lawsuit was filed Monday against Narconon Arrowhead by a man who suffered from the same disease as a woman who was found dead at the facility earlier this year.

    The lawsuit was filed in Pittsburg County District Court by 21-year-old William Scott. According to the suit, Scott is a former patient of the facility with medical condition called Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, a condition that requires daily medication which the facility failed to give him.

    The condition is the same as that of 21-year-old Hillary Holten who was found dead at the facility in April. Her autopsy reported the cause of her death as unknown and the manner of death is undetermined.

    The flagship branch of an international drug rehab program located in Canadian, Narconon Arrowhead’s program is based on the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

    Scott’s lawsuit states that Scientology founder Hubbard had “no known training or education in the field of drug and alcohol rehabilitation.”

    The suit is the latest in a string of lawsuits filed this year and an ongoing investigation into the Scientology based facility after three people were found dead in a span of nine months.

    Gabriel Graves, Hillary Holten and Stacy Murphy were all found dead at the facility between Oct. of 2011 and July of 2012.

    A fourth person, Kaycie Werninck, also died in 2009. while a patient of the facility.

    In August, a lawsuit was filed by Matthew and Suzan Holten, the parents of Hillary Holten, alleging Narconon did not provide adequate medical care for their daughter and that she died as a result of Narconon’s negligence.

    In October another lawsuit was filed by the parents of Stacy Murphy who was found dead at Narconon Arrowhead in July.
    Robert Murphy and Tonya White, parents of 20-year-old Stacy Murphy of Owasso, filed the lawsuit seeking damages in excess of $75,0000 against Narconon International, the Association for Better Living and Education International and Dr. Gerald Wootan.

    Also in October, the Shirley Gillaim mother of Gabriel Graves filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that her son “repeatedly evidenced symptoms of feeling ill, headaches and vomiting,” but was never referred to a physician.

    The suit states that Gabriel Graves was found dead the day after he complained of a terrible headache following sauna treatments. In 2009 Keith and Connie Werninck, the parents of Kaysie Werninck, filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit alleging their daughter “died of double pneumonia due to gross negligence on the part of Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma staff, who failed to get her the medical attention she needed and asked for but was prevented from receiving by Narconon” She died at Community Hospital Lakeview, in Eufaula, The case was settled in 2011.

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  42. Meanwhile in the lawsuit filed Monday alleges that during the 18 days that Scott was a patient of Narconon Arrowhead, he was not provided his prescribed medication causing him to be “rushed to the hospital on three separate occasions, twice by ambulance.”

    Scott is seeking more than $75,000 in damages according the lawsuit which alleges negligence, violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act, vicarious liability and civil conspiracy.

    Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Narconon of Oklahoma doing business as Narconon Arrowhead, an Oklahoma corporation; Narconon International, a foreign corporation based in California; Association for Better Living and Education International, a foreign corporation based in California; and Gerald D. Wootan, DO, M.Ed., medical director of Narconon of Oklahoma.

    Shanna Marlow, Scott’s mother said she was disappointed with the care he received.

    “I was told he would be able to take his medication,” Marlow said.

    She said that Narconon denied that he was hospitalized medical condition.

    “They told me he was hospitalized because of opiate withdrawal.”

    Narconon Arrowhead CEO Gary Smith answered questions by the News-Capital in response to the lawsuit. When asked if it is common for patients going through withdraw from opiates have to be admitted to the emergency room and if Narconon allows its students to take prescribed medication while they are undergoing detox or anytime while they are under the care of the facility, Smith said in the email statement;

    “The medical care and supervision offered at Narconon Arrowhead is in compliance with all state requirements that govern the level of care Narconon Arrowhead has been authorized by the state to offer. Since Narconon is not a hospital or acute care facility if that level of care becomes necessary for one of our clients an appropriate referral made.

    When a program participant requires medication for a medical condition that complies with Narconon’s enrollment criteria they are always included as part of the individuals treatment plan.”

    Also in an emailed statement from Smith he addressed the lawsuits filed against Narconon Arrowhead he wrote, “In this great nation of ours people bringing law suits seeking money damages are free to make whatever allegations they wish and those are very often not true. In fact more times than not when relevant records and documentation are reviewed in a court of law the actual facts of the case will trump the allegations that are being made. Narconon fully intends to aggressively defend these claims in the courts and let the facts speak for themselves. We cannot be more specific at this time because we believe the appropriate place to address these types of allegations are in a court of law and not the media.”

    A decision on whether or not criminal charges will be filed in the deaths at Narconon Arrowhead could be expected this week, according to District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward.


  43. Narconon may lose license for drug treatment

    By Christian Boone The Atlanta Journal-Constitution December 26, 2012

    The state Department of Community Health has notified Narconon of Georgia it intends to revoke the clinic’s license for misrepresenting itself as a residential drug treatment facility.

    The action came after the department’s latest probe of the Norcross treatment center, the fourth so far this year. In its findings, DCH said that its review of court records from a DeKalb County lawsuit revealed sworn statements from the facility’s executive director confirming that it was knowingly operating as a residential program when licensed only for outpatient services.

    An out-of-state drug court manager was also led to believe that the residential services included 24-hour supervision, and the false information harmed the “health and well-being” of the client the court was placing, according to the findings, obtained byThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution under an Open Records Request. That client died after a drug overdose.

    Barbara Marschalk, attorney for Narconon of Georgia, said her client has requested a hearing, as allowed by state law.

    “Narconon of Georgia strongly disagrees with the findings mentrioned in the department’s correspondence and corresponding survey report and plans to vigorously oppose any efforts to revoke its license,” Marschalk said Wednesday in a statement. “Narconon of Georgia plans to take all steps allowed under Georgia law to respond to and oppose any sanctions against it as they are unfounded and unwarranted and appear to be based solely on disputed documents produced in connection with an ongoing and very contentious civil lawsuit against it related to events that occurred more than four years ago.”

    Parents of former patient Patrick Desmond filed the lawsuit in 2010, accusing Narconon of Georgia of duping them and Florida drug court manager Lisa Mooty into believing that he had been appropriately placed in a residential program, as mandated by a judge.

    Following numerous complaints that Narconon of Georgia was operating or controlling a residential facility for clients, the state has conducted at least 11 probes since 2002.

    The three earlier complaint investigations this year did not substantiate that the facility was offering unlicensed residential treatment. “While client interviews confirmed that the facility was a residential program, there was conflicting documentation including records of an acknowledgement form, signed by the clients stating that the facility was not a residential program,” the latest investigation, conducted Nov. 13, states.

    The department declined comment on its latest investigation, saying it is still processing Narconon of Georgia’s response.

    DCH Director David Cook said in October the state can’t sanction Narconon on the false claims alone.

    “There’s a distinction between running a residential treatment facility and holding oneself out as a residential treatment facility,” Cook said. “The violation would be actually running a residential treatment facility.”

    The Desmond lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 11. “The amount of smoke has clearly indicated there is a fire,” said attorney Jeff Harris, who represents Desmond’s parents in the wrongful death suit.

    The case has been a cause celebre nationally for critics of the Church of Scientology. Narconon says its treatment is informed by the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, who founded Scientology.


  44. Narconon claims no liability in death of Norcross rehab patient

    By Christian Boone The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013

    Attorneys for Narconon International and its Georgia affiliate argued Thursday they were not liable for the 2008 drug overdose of Patrick Desmond, then a patient at the Norcross rehabilitation facility.

    “Never before has a court in Georgia found civil liability because the plaintiff took an illegal drug,” said Jay Bennett, an attorney for Narconon International, which seeks a summary judgment from DeKalb County State Judge Stacey Hydrick less than four weeks before a wrongful death suit filed by Desmond’s parents is set to commence. “A plaintiff can’t take advantage of his own wrongdoing by illegally taking heroin.”

    The parents of Patrick Desmond — who died of a lethal combination of alcohol and opiates — allege the drug treatment clinic duped them into believing it provided in-patient care even though it lacked the proper license.

    Their suit, filed in May 2010, also accuses Narconon of Georgia of lying to Florida’s drug court, which had sentenced Desmond to six months in a residential facility.

    Those accusations will go uncontested due to the withdrawal of Narconon of Georgia’s response, as ordered by Hydrick in November. She ruled the non-profit “intentionally, willfully and repeatedly provided false and misleading responses to plaintiff’s discovery requests regarding issues relevant to the resolution of this case.”

    Narconon International, based in Los Angeles, is also named in the suit. Attorneys for the drug treatment organization with ties to the Church of Scientology said during Thursday’s hearing they were not responsible for the Norcross clinic’s alleged negligence.

    “These two companies are separate corporations,” Narconon International lawyer David Root said. “International does not own, and Georgia is not a subsidiary, or local licensee.”

    The international group is “not involved” in the Georgia group’s daily operations, Root said.

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  45. But the lawyer for Desmond’s parents, pointing to a contract between the two entities in which Narconon International agrees to provide periodic, on-site health and safety inspections, said its responsibility is irrefutable.

    “Narconon International has assumed a contractual duty to address anything that is a ‘non-optimal’ situation,” said plaintiff’s attorney Jeff Harris, adding the international group regularly inspected the Georgia clinic. “They’re on constant notice there are problems at the housing (component) and they never do anything about it.”

    Narconon of Georgia attorney Barbara Marschalk said the overriding issue of the case is Desmond’s willful use of an illegal substance.

    “Is it fair and reasonable to hold someone accountable for their own conduct?” she said. In her closing argument Thursday, Marschalk said, “Addicts find a way to get drugs. That is a simple fact of of life. No one from Narconon of Georgia gave him drugs.”

    Moreover, Marschalk said Desmond knew he was enrolled in an outpatient program, pointing to documents signed by the 28-year-old former Marine.

    “None of the misrepresentations caused Patrick Desmond’s death,” she said.

    Harris countered that Narconon has engaged in “a pattern of criminal activity.”

    “All we’re saying it that a drug and alcohol rehab facility has to take reasonable steps to prevent … their own patients from attempting to get drugs and alcohol,” he said. “Those people are there because they have a disease and they should be treated as such.”

    Hydrick said she would rule on Narconon’s request for a summary judgment before a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Feb. 4.

    Narconon of Georgia is dealing with other legal issues outside of the pending civil trial. The state Department of Community Health announced in late December it intends to revoke the Norcross clinic’s license for misrepresenting itself as a residential treatment facility.

    Narconon has appealed the ruling, requesting a hearing as allowed by state law.


  46. Narconon, family reach settlement

    By Pete Combs WSB Radio February 11, 2013

    Norcross, GA -- Narconon, the drug and alcohol treatment program closely affiliated with the Church of Scientology, has reached a settlement agreement with the family of a 28-year old former Marine who died of an overdose while in the facility's care five years ago.

    Terms of the settlement between Narconon of Georgia, Narconon International and the family of Patrick Desmond were not disclosed in a statement from the Desmonds' attorney, Jeff Harris:

    "On Friday, February 8, 2013, Desmond v. Narconon of Georgia / Narconon International was settled to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. However, our investigation into claims of insurance fraud, illegal housing operations and other potentially illegal activities committed by Narconon of Georgia is ongoing. Our firm represents a number of potential claimants who want to see the state revoke Narconon of Georgia's license and shut themdown permanently. As long as Narconon of Georgia continues to operate, we will continue to vigorously investigate and bring additional claims."

    Patrick died of a heroin overdose after a night of drinking with a staff member at Narconon. His family and the drug court that sentenced him to rehab were told Narconon was an inpatient program. It was only after Patrick's death that they found Narconon is licensed solely for outpatient treatment.

    "Everything about them is a lie," said Colleen Desmond in an interview last September.

    The settlement, reached late Friday, does not mean this story is over. As WSB's Pete Combs has reported, Narconon is appealing the Georgia Department of Community Health decision to yank its license. Narconon is now also the subject of an insurance fraud investigation.


  47. Legislation affecting Narconon Arrowhead passes Senate

    By Jeanne LeFloreStaff Writer Mcalester News Capital February 24, 2013

    McALESTER — Legislation allowing Oklahoma’s mental health agency to certify recovery centers such as Narconon Arrowhead was unanimously passed by the Oklahoma Senate this week.

    Narconon Arrowhead is a non-profit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Canadian.

    Last August, after several deaths and lawsuits at Narconon Arrowhead, Sen. Tom Ivester, D-Elk City, said he would work with officials at Oklahoma’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to author legislation aimed at “regulating questionable practices” at the facility.

    An investigation of the Narconon Arrowhead organization was prompted by the July 19 death of Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso, by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office and the mental health department. The investigation later expanded to include three other deaths, those of Hillary Holten, 21, who was found dead at Narconon Arrowhead in April; Gabriel Graves, 32, who died at the facility in October, and Kaysie Dianne Werninck, 28, who died in 2009 while she was a patient of the facility. Werninck was not at the Arrowhead facility a the time of her death.

    District 7 State Sen. Larry Boggs said he voted for the bill Tuesday.

    “I think over all the bill is a good one, but it will need some oversight,” said the legislator, whose district includes McAlester and the area in which Narconon Arrowhead is located, near Canadian.

    “I think we came as close as we can for the people it will affect.”

    In November, Murphy’s autopsy report revealed that she had died of an accidental overdose.

    With that information, the investigation was handed over to District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward who has said he will a make the decision about whether criminal charges would be filed in connection the deaths. Several phone calls to Ward’s cell phone Friday and Saturday were not returned.

    Meanwhile, in January, Sen. Ivester introduced Senate Bill 295 which broadens the scope of what the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services can do. Currently Narconon Arrowhead does not have to be certified under the agency. If it becomes law, Sen. Ivester’s bill would amend the current law so that the ODMHSSA could also certify recovery centers such as Narconon.

    Meanwhile, back in August soon after Murphy was found dead at the facility, Ivester said he believed the state could impose strict regulations of “unorthodox drug treatment programs, like the one being run at Narconon Arrowhead that requires patients to endure five hours of extreme heat in a sauna and taking questionable doses of the vitamin Niacin.”

    Ivester said, “There are proven treatment regimens to help people deal with the illness of addiction and we have a duty to ensure that programs being offered within the borders of Oklahoma are strongly regulated to ensure the utmost safety for these vulnerable patients and their families.”

    The legislation must now be passed by the House of Representative before it becomes law.

    Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, said he hasn’t read the legislation yet and couldn’t say how he will vote on it. He did said Narconon is going through the process of certification to become approved by the state mental health board.

    “I have talked to Sen. Ivester about the bill and I feel (the bill) would be redundant,” Renegar said. “By the time it becomes law, Narconon will be approved by the board.”

    He also said he felt that Narconon was taking steps to change its policies. And, since the deaths at the facility, he said a close family member of his has used the Narconon program.

    District 18 State Rep. Donnie Condit. D-McAlester, said he is all for making drug rehab facilities safer.

    “If I had to vote on the bill today,” Condit said, “I would vote for it.”


  48. Narconon Trois-Rivieres Charitable Status Revoked

    By David Love, Canadian Free Press Release & Media Distribution Service March 10, 2013

    Documents received today, confirm that Narconon Trois-Rivieres in Quebec, Canada, has had their charitable status revoked by the Canada Revenue Agency. A 5 page formal complaint, with attached evidence documents, was filed on January 17, 2012 against Narconon Incorporated and Narconon Trois-Rivieres with the Ottawa Agency.

    Documents submitted, referred to: "Narconon is operated as a commercial business venture, with huge sums ending up in Scientology bank accounts. These files confirm to the Charities Commission that Narconon does NOT benefit the community in a way the law regards as charitable. Quite notably, this organization causes far more harm than good as will be evident to the Commission when applying the "Public Benefit Test" as prescribed under the Income Tax Act."

    It's been a rough road for Scientology's drug rehabs in Canada since September 2010, when Narconon Canada Continental, dissolved in disgrace following negative media PR.

    On July 27, 2011, a devastating blow to operations at Narconon Trois-Rivieres was delivered by the Quebec College of Physicians. Following a formal complaint and several months of investigations, Dr. Pierre Labonte, Narconon's medical manager, was found guilty of breach of ethical obligations by associating himself with a drug rehab not recognized in current medical literature. Dr. Labonte and all Quebec physicians were put on notice, forbidden to associate with Narconon or face discipline by the College.

    The ultimate blow to Scientology in Canada was announced on April 17, 2012, from Marc Lacour, Director of Social Services for the Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec Health and Social Services Agency.

    After a thorough investigation, he announced that the 100 bed Narconon Trois-Rivieres be closed - - citing that "fifty-five criteria required for certification, forty-six were found to require various types of corrections and twenty-six of these criteria were deemed high-risk factors." The center was closed and patients transferred to other facilities.

    Narconon Trois-Rivieres, ABLE Canada, Scientology Montreal et al. and Executives, still face 5 cases under investigation for nearly 2 years, by the Quebec Human Rights Commission. All 5 cases are now in the hands of the Commission lawyers.

    The recent revocation of Narconon Trois-Rivieres charitable status is deemed "voluntary" and falls under one or more of the following criteria:

    --a lack of available resources;
    --dissolution of the organization;
    --a merger or consolidation; or
    --no further need for organization's services (for example, the project or program it was established to undertake is complete).

    Credible sources indicate that another Scientology drug rehab will be opening soon in a more favourable Province, Ontario, with a "Canadian Medical Detox" website posted on October 14, 2012, by President P. Dubreuil, an Ex-Narconon Trois-Rivieres staff member.

    The drug rehab industry is indeed very lucrative and attracts many unscrupulous business minded entrepreneurs for quick and easy money. Upload a "drug rehab" website for desperate addicts to find with a Google search and the phones begin to ring.

    However, with the numerous patient deaths in Georgia and Oklahoma, USA, and the troubles in Canada, health agencies and government authorities are keeping a close watch.


  49. Attorney For Families Who Died At Narconon Speaks Out About Latest Controversy

    By Heather Hope, News 9 OKLAHOMA CITY March 10, 2013

    Narconon Arrowhead is back in the headlines Sunday night.

    News 9 has been closely following the drug treatment facility's recent troubles, including three patient deaths and the lawsuits that followed. Now, Narconon's CEO and several employees have lost their counseling certifications.

    Narconon has been embedded in controversy from its rehab methods to its ties to Scientology.

    I talked with the attorney representing families for three of Narconon's most recent deaths..

    And he had some insight into why the counseling certifications may have been revoked.

    "I couldn't begin to tell you the stories I've heard of what goes on down there," said attorney, Gary Richardson.

    And Richardson says he's heard plenty of them.

    "They say 76 percent success rate, when there is no way, and when they get into the way they calculate that, then you get to see how ridiculous that is," Richardson said.

    Richardson represents families of Narconon's three most recent deaths. All three filed wrongful death lawsuits against the Narconon Arrowhead rehab facility near McAlester. The families blame the staff.

    "It was joke to even think they had counselors to begin with. So when I started seeing that their certifications had been pulled, it wasn't a surprise at all," said Richardson.

    The National Association of Forensic Counselors says drug counseling certifications for Narconon's CEO Gary Smith and several employees were all revoked earlier this month.

    While the association won't give details, Richardson says he was told Smith did not report the three deaths. He lied about education and background information for some employees and he says there were not nearly as many staff members as Smith claimed.

    "What they have are students who went to bed one night as a student and woke up the next morning as a staff member. They're still drug addicts," said Richardson. "But I think all this helps prove the point that we've been making now for some time."

    News 9 called the Narconon facility, but no one who could directly comment on the certification was available. The Narconon center in Quebec, Canada had its charitable status revoked last month.


  50. 5 More Lawsuits Filed Against Narconon Arrowhead Rehab Facility

    By: Tami Beyersdoerfer, NewsOn6.com and Tess Maune, News On 6 PITTSBURG COUNTY, Oklahoma March 21, 2013

    Five lawsuits were filed against the Narconon Arrowhead rehab facility Thursday.

    The lawsuits each allege false representation on behalf of the Pittsburg County facility, non-disclosure or concealment, fraud and deceit, breach of contract, and civil conspiracy.

    Claims made in the lawsuits are similar to the ones made in previous filings. They each allege that the facility claimed to have a success rate over 70 percent and claimed to offer round-the-clock medical services and one-on-one counseling. One plaintiff alleges the facility told her they had the ability to diagnose mental illnesses, though there was no psychologist or psychiatrist on the staff.

    Narconon does advertise a 70 percent success rate—a number CEO Gary Smith said comes from a series of survey calls, following program completion.

    They allege that residents at the rehab center are cared for by "students," who were unqualified for that purpose.

    Smith has defended that practice.

    "Ex-users helping users has always had its value. A person who's on drugs will trust an individual who they know has been on drugs, and they will be more honest with that person then," Smith said.

    Nearly 75 percent of the staff is made up of Narconon graduates, according to Smith.

    The suits filed Thursday allege that drugs were readily available to the students and that counselors would provide drugs and alcohol to students in exchange for "sex and other improper consideration."

    In the suit filed by former student Sue Ann Newman and her sister, Dena Shobe, they claim Narconon offered them a no-interest loan to pay the $15,000 tuition. Two months after Newman was admitted to the facility, they allegedly told her that deal was never approved. Shobe then claims to have received credit cards in the mail, she claims were applied for in her name by Narconon, without her permission. The cards, with an interest rate of 23 percent, had $14,500 charged to them; the exact amount Narconon had billed her for her sister's treatment, the suit says.

    Another plaintiff, Vicki White, alleges the facility got her phone number from a website that was advertised as a help line for parents of people with addiction problems. She alleges to have received several calls from Narconon, urging her to enroll her son in treatment.

    Her son was enrolled in January 2011, according to the lawsuit, without any discussion of the cost. She claims she later received a call from a representative, saying that her son was in serious condition and they needed payment to treat him, so she paid $1,000.

    The suit claims the facility failed to provide medical supervision during her son's withdrawal and kept him in a room where smoking was allowed, denying him his inhaler. White alleges she called numerous times, requesting her son be given the inhaler for his asthma, and her requests were ignored.

    White claims Narconon called her son's father, asking for payment and received $9,000 from him, and then called his grandmother, who borrowed $7,000 to pay them.

    Then, White alleges, when her son graduated from the program, she was told there would be a series of phone calls from the facility, as part of an "After Care Program." She claims, in the suit, that no calls ever came.

    continued in next comment...

  51. Smith has said in the past that Narconon has no religious affiliation, but does acknowledge that the Church of Scientology is a supporter of the facility.

    "It's not accurate to say to say it's Scientology-based, because Scientology is a religion," Smith said. "We are not a religion. You can look at all our materials—there is no religious philosophies or anything in any of the materials that the individuals study here. It's life-skills. We'll never be the Church of Scientology. We never were."

    In her lawsuit, Mary Cantu, alleges the facility attempted to take away her Catholic son's Rosary while he was in treatment there.

    Cantu claims her son was enrolled in July 27, 2011 and left in August 12, 2011, after his roommate had a seizure. She claims, in her suit, to have paid $13,000.

    One plaintiff, Gina Nelson, alleges her son was suspended from the program and transported to the Tulsa Salvation Army, with nothing but the clothes on his back, after she questioned the facility's treatments. Nelson claims her son was subjected to interrogation and told he was a "suppressive person."

    Nelson's lawsuit also mentions the controversial sauna treatment Narconon employs, which involves a specific vitamin regimen, including Niacin. The suits claim the dosage levels are toxic and potentially fatal.

    Gabriel Graves, Hillary Holten and Stacy Dawn Murphy all died while in the care of Narconon Arrowhead in a nine-month span.

    Earlier this month, the center's employees' drug counseling certifications were revoked by the National Association of Forensic Counselors.

    Narconon Arrowhead is being investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

    In each of the lawsuits filed Thursday, the plaintiffs ask for no less than $75,000 in damages.

    John Bitinas, spokesperson for Narconon Arrowhead issued the following statement in response to the lawsuits:

    "It is pretty clear that these lawsuits are financially motivated and have no foundation of truth contained in them. As in any lawsuit that is filed allegations are made which contain gossip and information that often times is not factual. It is in the courtroom where the truth will prevail. The Narconon organization has been helping people overcome drug and alcohol addiction in the United States for 47 years and in Oklahoma for 23 years. Narconon's mission has always been to help people overcome addiction and prevent kids from becoming addicts through our drug education and prevention programs. We are confident that justice will be served in these matters and Narconon will continue to achieve its purpose."

    Read Sue Ann Newman and Dena Shobe Vs. Narconon Of Oklahoma, Inc., et al. http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/griffin/NEWSon6/PDF/1207/newman_shobe_lawsuit.pdf

    Read Vicki White Vs. Narconon Of Oklahoma, Inc., et al. http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/griffin/NEWSon6/PDF/1207/white_lawsuit.pdf

    Read Lisa Gray Vs. Narconon Of Oklahoma, Inc., et al. http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/griffin/NEWSon6/PDF/1207/gray_lawsuit.pdf

    Read Mary Cantu Vs. Narconon Of Oklahoma, Inc, et al. http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/griffin/NEWSon6/PDF/1207/cantu_lawsuit.pdf

    Read Gina Nelson Vs. Narconon Of Oklahoma, Inc., et al. http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/griffin/NEWSon6/PDF/1207/nelson_lawsuit.pdf


  52. If Scientology was a Country it would probably be North Korea

    BY: DAVID LOVE examiner.com February 16, 2013

    The three hour radio broadcast on the God Discussion radio show last night, revealed an “extremely disturbing” story of the death of 20-year-old Kyle Brennan who was denied his anti-depressant medication because of his father's religious beliefs. Kyle was found at his father's apartment, shot in the head with his father's .357 Magnum - - the gun was lying near his body. http://tinyurl.com/audoabp

    The hosts and guests examined and discussed how Scientology abhors the use of psychiatric medication and the trail of devastation and death attributed to this cult enforced dogma.

    Link to podcast of God Discussion - “Justice for Kyle Brennan”:


    Speaking publicly for the first time was Victoria Britton, Kyle’s mom, who shared with radio host Deborah Beeksma about her 20-year-old son's death. Victoria spoke about how Kyle, a non-Scientologist, felt about the Church of Scientology; and how he became a victim of the church's dictatorial "handling" mandate and its well-known war against psychiatry and psychotropic medications. http://www.kylebrennan.com/

    Ex-Scientologist Lance Marcor discussed the Scientology "handling" and "disconnection" policies, two of Scientology's most injurious policies. Lance joined Scientology’s “Sea Org”, the unit comprising the church’s most dedicated members in 1978 and left in 2007. His unique experience as a former Scientology insider, qualified him to speak on the show about the organization’s inner workings - - an eye-opener for listeners.

    Court Exhibit 1 – Declaration of Lance Marcor: http://tinyurl.com/cets5v4

    Dr. Stephen Wiseman, from Vancouver, Canada, spoke about Scientology from a psychiatrist's point of view; and David Love talked about Narconon - how the facility treats illegal drugs and medically approved medications as being one and the same.

    Dr. Stephen Wiseman: “Suppressive Person” website: http://tinyurl.com/cu9tpjv

    Dr. Wiseman is a proponent of evidence-based medicine, and believes that the fear and mis-information presented by Scientology about psychiatry over the years has perpetuated the stigma against patients and their families and has been very destructive to the cause of rational mental health treatment for all who require it.

    Foremost on last night’s broadcast, was Victoria Britton, a grieving mom, who has been seeking the truth about Kyle’s death—and fighting for justice for her son, despite tremendous adversity—since his death in 2006. She believes that Kyle’s story is an important one that must be told. “It can serve as a warning to others. It can save lives” she said.

    Victoria filed a lawsuit in 2009 in Tampa federal court on behalf of her son's estate and in September 2012, a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of an aggressively contested wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Church of Scientology and three parishioners after the apparent suicide of Kyle.

    Thomas Brennan, told police he found his son dead after returning from work, but many, including Lance Marcor on last night’s show, question whether it was murder?

    As per Scientology policy, a church ethics officer then told Thomas Brennan to direct his son to leave the apartment and to "handle'' him according to church policy. Kyle’s father locked his son's Lexapro in the trunk of his car. Kyle Brennan was dead within 24 hours.

    continued in next comment...

  53. The lawsuit, which named Thomas Brennan as one of the defendants, alleged he acted without regard to Kyle's safety and that Brennan wrongfully withdrew medically necessary Lexapro.

    Reams of Court documents can be viewed at: http://tinyurl.com/c6g2m8p

    Notable is the following Blog post:

    “The rotten foundation of the decision of Judge Merryday to dismiss the case, which has now been affirmed by the appellate judges, is the travesty of the investigation into Kyle's death by Clearwater Police Detective Stephen Bohling with his cover up and massive lying about Kyle's diagnosis and every important aspect of the case.”

    “The affair cries out for an independent investigation and re-opening of the case.”

    Victoria Britton was welcomed on the first hour of the God Discussion show and expressed her feelings about scientology “practicing medicine without a licence.” Listening to Victoria indeed raised many questions surrounding her son’s death - - dispelling the suicide assumption.

    Kyle, making a bank deposit into his savings account prior to his death, does not create an image of “someone with thoughts of suicide” commented Al, a show host.

    This horrific ordeal had Victoria commenting she was living a "House of Horrors, without exit doors." The media wrangling “was like a three-ringed circus”, she said.

    There was so many absurd contradictions in the lawsuit depositions, that Victoria said although not experiencing any harassment from Scientology, she said “I felt like I had been sucked up in an attic tube and deposited into this very dark, dark underworld that made little or no sense to me - - it’s been a horrific journey, and I don’t have any words…”

    The gracious show hosts, Deborah and Al, said before the show, when discussing details, they were fighting tears. “I can’t even imagine”, said Al.

    At one hour into the show, Victoria was given the floor and asked listeners: “To the people who may be thinking about leaving Scientology at this moment, or perhaps they’re confused if they should stay or leave, to ask themselves what kind of a belief system - - one that calls itself a church, is going to ask you to deny the strongest instinct and emotions that makes you human, and that is to love and protect your children. And that no organization; especially one that calls itself a church should ever ask a parent to throw their child away or to disconnect from them - - and to think about that and when you do, don’t walk away from this organization, RUN as fast as you can because your life or your child’s life may depend on that.”

    In the second half of the broadcast, Dr. Stephen Wiseman discussed how one must remember that “Scientology is the brain-child of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology is a reflection of Hubbard’s personality and own issues. So, it’s quite clear, certainly to my understanding and my reading, that this gentleman, quite likely with a severe narcissistic personality disorder or something quite similar… is a man of paranoia.”

    “If there were 50 million Scientologist’s in America right now, it would be a pretty scary place”, said Dr. Wiseman, responding to Lance Marcor’s comment about “L. Ron Hubbard being against democracy and clearing the planet of all people except Scientologists.”

    Al jumped in, saying “it’s obvious that the cheese had ‘slidden-off’ of Hubbard’s cracker a long time back.”

    continued in next comment...

  54. Dr. Wiseman expressed how one must be careful in life because “once Scientology gets their hooks into you, it can be too late - - we all have vulnerable moments”, he said.

    Referring back to the early 1990’s, Dr. Wiseman tells his story of “walking the streets of Sydney, Australia” and was invited into a church of Scientology for a Personality Test. He was tired after a long flight, and without much thought agreed.

    However, after the test, he told the staff person that he “just finished working at a psychiatric hospital and was about to start a residency in psychiatry. Basically, they said we’re not interested - - in other words, get the hell out of our room!” His point was, “we all have moments when we’re vulnerable and we’ll say yes to something, as opposed to saying no.”

    In ending the show with comments about how to inform the public and expose Scientology’s destructive practices, the guests concurred that this organization is soon in for a reckoning.

    Dr. Stephen Wiseman concluded the show with “I think that if Scientology was a country, it would probably be North Korea - - I do think they’re heading for an ending and it’s going to be an apocalypse ending - - I think it’s going to be pretty grim, with tens of thousands of psychiatrists across the globe who are going to be quite happy about that.”

    This God Discussion broadcast was an emotional experience for many, and Victoria Britton was commended by all - - with mention of another show in the near future.

    Kyle's mom posted a wonderful tribute in this video description:


    "A tribute to my twenty-year-old son, Kyle Brennan, who died tragically on February 17th, 2007 in Clearwater, Florida...It is in the early morning that I often make the journey to where my youngest son now sleeps--beneath the shadow of Monticello Mountain. There--in the day's new beginning--the mountain light is crisper, the birdsongs are clearer, and the dew on the grass is still cool. On my way to the cemetery, I pass the college he once attended, and past Carter's Mountain where Kyle-the little storyteller-once entertained his young classmates. On the empty passenger seat beside me sits a bouquet of wildflowers and red roses. The backyard gardens of his youth now supply the flowers for his final resting place. When I tend to his grave I find myself singing him soft lullabies, the very same I sang him long ago. It is then that I feel the full weight of my loss. Though life seems as constant as the moon and the stars, and sunshine seems but a day away, I now reside in a sadder place. It is a world filled with memories and reminders of what will never be...a world without my Kyle.”


  55. Scientology-linked rehab Narconon under fire from two former executives

    By Anna Schecter NBC News Rock Center April 4, 2013

    In the wake of a Rock Center with Brian Williams report on three deaths at a Scientology-linked drug treatment center in Oklahoma, the former president of the facility, and a former executive at a Narconon facility in Michigan have come forward to expose what they call deceitful marketing techniques and underqualified staff.

    "Narconon preys on vulnerable people. That's part of the sales techniques," said Lucas Catton, who stepped down as President of Narconon's Arrowhead facility in Oklahoma in 2004.

    In an interview to be broadcast Friday, April 5, on Rock Center, Catton and his former colleague, Eric Tenorio, alleged that Narconon advertises a bogus success rate of 75 percent to lure in desperate families of addicts and hires recent graduates to be counselors without any traditional drug treatment training.

    Tenorio, the former executive director of Narconon's Freedom Center in Michigan, showedRock Center official-looking certificates he received as a "Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor.” He said he purchased them for himself and his staff for several thousand dollars from an organization called the Pita Group, Inc., which was created by Kent McGregor, a contractor for Narconon’s Arrowhead facility located in Canadian, Oklahoma.

    "No course. No tests. No oversight,” Tenorio said. “It’s absolutely fraud."

    McGregor denied Tenorio’s assertions and said the Pita Group requires 20 hours of training and two years’ experience to obtain a CADC certificate.

    Tenorio said he believes the deaths at Narconon Arrowhead could have been prevented if qualified addiction counselors had been on staff. Beyond the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, he said, staff members do not receive instruction on how to treat people addicted to drugs or alcohol.

    "Part of what I have to do to right the wrong is just be honest about it. If it gets me in trouble, that's the risk I'm willing to take. Any quote, unquote, ‘punishment’ that may come of it is better than someone dying," he said.

    Both Tenorio and Catton describe Narconon's methods of treatment as "pseudo-science."

    Narconon promotes itself as a non-medical rehabilitation program. Its methods include five hours a day in a sauna for 30 straight days and mega doses of the vitamin Niacin.

    Narconon’s patients are called "students" and they study a series of eight books based on the writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, part of a larger life-skills program that Narconon said has helped tens of thousands of people around the world lead drug-free lives.

    The three-to-six-month program costs about $30,000 per patient, which is comparable to other addiction treatment programs.

    Both Catton and Tenorio first arrived at Narconon in Oklahoma as patients in their early 20s, Tenorio in 1996, and Catton in 1998.

    They said at the time and for years after they thought the program helped them, though they now say it was more of a change of geography than Hubbard’s teachings that helped them get sober.

    Another striking similarity in their experiences -- both men became Scientologists while at Narconon.

    "I dedicated all of my time, life, money; everything was dedicated toward the purpose of advancing Scientology's aims. That is what you're doing at Narconon, is you're advancing the aims of Scientology," said Catton.

    Catton alleged the Church of Scientology uses Narconon as a way to recruit new members, an assertion which both the Church of Scientology and Narconon deny.

    continued in next comment...

  56. Catton also said one of the main focuses at the management level was to bring in as much revenue as possible. In 2011, Narconon Arrowhead alone brought in $10.88 million in revenue.

    "You're willing to either lie to [prospective clients] or misrepresent who you are or take people who aren't really qualified; anything to bring in the money to keep the facility going, week after week after week," said Catton.

    Catton claims the success rate when he was at Narconon was closer to 25 percent. Narconon stands by its 75 percent statistic.

    "It's all based on deception," Catton said. "Everything from the success rate to their counseling certifications, to their general requirements of what it takes to be a staff member to their connection to the Church of Scientology-- every single one of those things is deceptively portrayed to the general public versus what really goes on behind the closed doors," he said.

    Catton said as president of Narconon Arrowhead, he helped Narconon take advantage of loopholes in Oklahoma state law to avoid any kind of meaningful regulation by the state.

    "The state, unfortunately, has not done their job," he said.

    The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services said Narconon Arrowhead is currently certified to provide non-medical detoxification services, and that an investigation is ongoing into the into the deaths of Stacy Murphy, Hilary Holten, and Gabriel Graves, all of whom died inside the facility within a nine-month period in 2011 and 2012.

    Catton stepped down as president in 2004 because he said he was tiring of the contradictory orders he was getting from the Church of Scientology, a non-profit affiliated with the church called A.B.L.E., and Narconon International.

    From 2004-2009 Catton worked as a contractor selling Narconon to relatives of drug addicts from around the country who were looking for help on the internet.

    "I had a series of websites that were non-branded--generic websites for people to look for drug treatment and rehab help," Catton said.

    Catton said he referred most of those who could afford it to Narconon. The rest he referred elsewhere. He said he would earn a 10 percent commission, or roughly $3,000, on each new patient he sent to Narconon, but would never disclose to the families his financial connection to the program. He said he made up to $200,000 annually in commissions.

    Catton said he started to question Narconon and Scientology after he began to look into unfavorable reports about the Church online around 2010. He said when he started to question church authorities he was excommunicated in 2011.

    Tenorio stopped working for Narconon in 2010 after tiring of what he called fraud and poor management. Leaving Narconon essentially ended his connection with the church.

    Both men said they are ashamed of their involvement with Narconon and Scientology.

    "It's definitely embarrassing. I don’t go around telling people that I meet that, ‘Yeah, I used to be in a cult,’" said Tenorio.

    continued in next comment...

  57. Catton echoed him saying, “To think I had fallen for such a scam…and sold it to others. It’s not something I would wish on anybody else,” he said.

    Catton said distancing himself from the Church of Scientology has been a process over the past three years. As part of that process, he wrote a book called Have You Told All? Inside my time with Narconon and Scientology which he self-published this year.

    “I felt that it was the only way that I could actually get past all this, was to be able to help tell my side of the story. It needed to be done. I wouldn't be able to let it go, consciously, otherwise,” he said.

    The families of the three deceased are all suing Narconon Arrowhead for negligence and wrongful death. Narconon has denied wrongdoing in any the deaths at the facility.

    In the days leading up to the publication of this article, dozens of people wrote emails to NBC News saying either their lives or the lives of a loved one were saved by Narconon.

    In statements to NBC News, Narconon and Church of Scientology officials said only a very small percentage of patients join Scientology.

    In an email to NBC News, Narconon Arrowhead CEO Gary Smith said approximately 25 percent of his staff are Scientologists.

    "Narconon's chief concern is to salvage people from the ravages of drug addiction… Nothing in the procedures puts money before helping the person who is suffering,” said Smith in the email.

    In statements both the Church of Scientology and Narconon said that Catton and Tenorio benefitted from Narconon's treatment.

    Narconon Arrowhead CEO Smith provided a statement from Catton thanking the program for saving his life. Smith stressed that the statement was from as recent as 2011. He also said Catton is connected to individuals who “have been engaged in a public anti-Scientology campaign for years.”

    The Church of Scientology provided video statements made by Tenorio in 2008 and Catton in 2009 thanking Narconon for turning their lives around.

    “Doing the Narconon program is what got me to where I am right now," Tenorio said on camera in a 2008 testimonial given to the Church of Scientology.

    In Catton’s 2009 video testimonial given to the Church of Scientology he said, “There is not a more comprehensive rehabilitation program available than Narconon."

    Catton said his sole reason for speaking out is to help save lives in the future.

    "Why would I incriminate myself? Why would I give up my certifications? Why would I do all these things? It's purely so that the truth can come out, so that people can stop hurting, so that people can stop dying, and so that there can be full transparency,” he said.

    Rock Center's Sabrina Esposito contributed to this report.

    Editor's Note: Harry Smith's full report airs Friday, April 5 at 10pm/9CDT on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams.


  58. Vietnamese Hopeful of Unproven Scientology Detox

    By CHRIS BRUMMITT Associated Press ABC News April 4, 2013 (AP)

    THAI BINH, Vietnam

    North Vietnamese army veteran Nguyen Anh Quoc grimaces as he forces down the last of the 35 vitamins he takes each morning. After decades of suffering from illnesses he believes were caused by exposure to Agent Orange, he is putting his faith in a regime advocated by the Church of Scientology.

    "I have to take them," the 62-year-old said at a treatment center established with the help of a Scientology-funded group. "They will clean up my body."

    The center, a converted mushroom farm in northern Vietnam, owes as much to Scientology's desire to expand around the world, away from scandal in the United States, as it does to pressure in Vietnam to try to help aging veterans still suffering from the effects of war.

    Many medical experts regard the treatment — a 25-day vitamin and sauna regime — as junk medicine or even dangerous. But for now at least, it has found fertile ground here.

    The Vietnamese advocacy group overseeing the program in Thai Binh province wants to offer it to all 20,000 people suffering from ailments blamed on dioxins in Agent Orange. U.S. airplanes sprayed up to 12 million gallons of the defoliant over the country during the Vietnam War to strip away vegetation used as cover by Vietnamese soldiers.

    The advocacy group, which has the implicit support of the government, has almost completed a two-story accommodation block for patients and is raising funds for a much larger complex, with 15 more saunas than the five it currently has.

    "I have seen so many desperate families that their tears have dried up," said Nguyen Duc Hanh, the head of local branch of the Vietnam Association of Agent Orange Victims in Thai Binh. "I don't know what the scientists say about its effectiveness, but the patients say it improves their health. They should be able to experience it before they die."

    Scientologists believe the regime, which includes massive consumption of vitamins, four-hour sauna sessions and morning runs, can "sweat out" toxins stored in body fat. There are no peer-reviewed studies to back this claim.

    The center was established in 2010 by five foreign members of a Scientology-funded sister organization, The Association of Better Living and Education. They gave local staff two months of training. The group is devoted to spreading church founder L. Ron Hubbard's social welfare programs and health treatments around the world.

    The center makes no reference to its links to the church, and the volunteers have long departed. But having its "Purification Rundown" treatment accepted by authorities here adds legitimacy to it, and gives the church a foothold from which to grow.

    The church sent volunteers to Asia to administer another of its treatments, a massage called a "touch assist," in the aftermath of disasters including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and 2008 Myanmar cyclone.

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  59. Since its emergence in the 1950s, Scientology has battled accusations, legal challenges and government scrutiny around the world over accusations it is a secretive cult that preys on vulnerable people. Its leaders deny those accusations.

    Scientologists market the "rundown" treatment simultaneously as a spiritual treatment for followers and as a secular one for those needing "detox," either from drug addiction or chemical exposure. Two affiliated Scientology groups use the treatment in drug rehabilitation centers that have drawn wrongful death lawsuits and investigations.

    In 1991, Scientology offered "rundown" treatments in Russia to people suffering symptoms related to radiation exposure following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The church still refers to the mission in its online literature, claiming numerous successes, but Russia banned it from performing medical treatment in the country in 1996.

    Last year, a French court upheld fraud charges and fined the church $791,000 for its efforts to persuade people to take the "rundown."

    Rubina Qureshi, vice president of ABLE International, said the detox has helped thousands of people exposed to chemical contamination, alleviating symptoms such as sleep difficulties, memory problems, pain and mood swings.

    "Whatever the long-term health status of these individuals may be, reducing symptoms that have persisted for decades can have profoundly beneficial effects and this is a worthwhile goal in itself," Qureshi said via email.

    The Thai Binh province group said it selects patients based on the severity of their symptoms, and that about 600 people have gone through the course.

    Fourteen days into the program, Quoc, who suffers from diabetes, nervous system complaints and memory loss, said he was sleeping better, has a better appetite and felt better overall. A reporter questioned four other patients, all of whom made similar statements.

    All patients get daily care and attention from nurses, as well as pulse and blood pressure checks by doctors. Those who live outside of town also receive food and board during the course.

    "It is an excellent program. I feel my health is much improved," said Quoc, who spent much of the war fighting along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was heavily sprayed with Agent Orange.

    It is unclear if those feelings of better health endure. Hanh said it was too expensive to monitor patients once they leave the center.

    Many people exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam can't work, or have family members that need full-time care. The Vietnamese government provides them a stipend of between $50 and $90 a month, but there are few residential centers for people with severe disabilities.

    None of those taking the course when an Associated Press reporting team visited recently appeared to be suffering from life-threatening or debilitating illnesses. All were able to comfortably jog slowly for half an hour.

    Pham Ngoc Tan, a 29-year-old patient, said he was on the course after his father offered his place to him. He said he needed it because he and his wife had been having trouble conceiving.

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  60. In the U.S., the Board on the Health of Select Populations, part of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, said in 2010 that there is an association between herbicide exposure and some forms of cancer, including Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It said there was more limited evidence of possible associations with several other diseases.

    Washington has for years questioned whether Agent Orange is responsible for sickening Americans or Vietnamese, though it has spent billions on health care and other programs for U.S. veterans who were exposed. It denies any legal liability in Vietnam.

    While it gives money to Vietnamese health and disability programs in general, it ignores Vietnamese requests for compensation or direct assistance to victims, saying all help is "regardless of cause."

    Vietnam attributes more illness and conditions to exposure then America does, including, for example, reproductive abnormalities and congenital deformities. Very few people in Vietnam have been tested for levels of dioxins.

    Hanh says the treatment costs around $350 per person, which the victims association pays for. It gets some funds from individual donors, both at home and abroad, and Vietnamese companies, often state-run ones. The center's expansion is being financed by a joint venture company owned by state-owned PetroVietnam and a Russian company.

    Last year, the military began a second "rundown" course at a military hospital in the capital, Hanoi, according to the head of the national victims support group, Nguyen Van Rinh. Blood samples taken from patients before and after the treatment are being sent to Germany, where a lab has been contracted to check whether dioxin levels have changed, he said. The hospital declined to answer questions about the program.

    Many medical experts are troubled by the large amount of vitamins "rundown" patients are instructed to take, especially niacin, which far exceed the daily recommended doses by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA warns that taking too much niacin can lead to "liver problems, gout, ulcers of the digestive tract, loss of vision, high blood sugar, irregular heartbeat, and other serious problems."

    "It's bad enough that the treatment is ineffective ... and that people's expectations get raised. Another thing that it is a potentially dangerous undertaking," said Stephen Kent, a sociology professor at the University of Alberta in Canada who has studied Scientology.

    Still, patients including Nguyen Thi Be are hopeful. She worked along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, repairing bridges and roads damaged by U.S. bombs. Since the war ended, she has suffered two miscarriages, has a daughter diagnosed with Down syndrome and suffers from uterine fibroids, cysts and other ailments.

    "The veterans here may look not very ill, but many of us are rotten from inside with illnesses," she said, her face red after emerging from a sauna session. "After 13 days, I haven't seen a drastic improvement but I think I will be better with time. Other people who have finished the treatment highly recommended it. They looked very healthy when I saw them."


  61. Scientology-run Center Could Face Inspections

    By Nathan Baca, Investigative Reporter and Alex Brauer, Photojournalist KLAS-TV Nevada April 09, 2013

    LAS VEGAS -- Nevada state health agencies want to open up a Scientology-run drug rehabilitation center for inspections.

    The move comes after an I-Team investigation highlighting years of patient complaints and allegations of dangerous conditions.

    Narconon is a drug rehab center in Lincoln County, 150 miles north of Las Vegas.

    State health officials said they want to open up Narconon for inspections for the first time.

    From sweating out alien spirits, to lifting objects with their mind, what happens at the drug rehab center is far from scientifically accepted.

    Justin Vandergriend went to Narconon for opiate addiction.

    "There was times they would throw an ashtray up there and they would say, try to levitate this with your mind," he said. "Control this ashtray."

    Narconon course material was written by Scientology religion founder L. Ron Hubbard.

    According to Hubbard's 1968 writings, Scientology aims to rid people of infesting alien spirits left behind after a 75 million year old galactic civil war.

    The Vandergriend family and many others claim nobody told them Narconon was controlled by Scientology.

    "They don't even have a certified doctor, a certified nurse, they don't have anybody," said Dave Vandergriend, Justin Vandergriend's father.

    John Anchondo, a former Narconon salesman, said, potential patients weren't aware the rehab center was tied to Scientology.

    "I'd tell them, ‘Look, either they're going to die or, you know, send them to us,'" he said. "I'm not going to lie to you. I did save a lot of people. The thing was, they didn't understand it was Scientology. You couldn't tell them that. I was like, why?"

    State databases show none of the Narconon employees the I-Team has identified have any Nevada medical licenses or certification for drug counseling.

    When attempting to ask them in person, the I-Team's interview requests were repeatedly denied.

    Narconon did, however, send the I-Team a promotional packet.

    It attempted to justify their nearly $40,000 non-refundable charge by claiming a 76 percent success rate.

    Because Narconon accepts no state money, current law prevents state inspectors from verifying Narconon's claims.

    After the I-Team alerted lawmakers to the growing number of Narconon complaints, state health agencies now aim to close the legal loophole.

    "That is what this bill is intended to do, is to allow us to have oversight over those facilities now we don't have currently licensed," said Marla McDade Williams of the Nevada Health Division.

    The state Senate Health Committee plans to vote Thursday on Senate Bill 501, which would give state inspectors power to inspect all drug and alcohol rehab centers, Narconon included.

    The bill would then need to pass the Assembly before a signature from the governor.


  62. Gov. Fallin signs bill regulating Narconon Arrowhead

    By Jeanne LeFlore, Staff Writer Mcalester News Capital May 7, 2013

    McALESTER — A bill giving the state oversight of Narconon Arrowhead and other drug rehabs according to legislation signed today by Gov. Mary Fallin.

    Senate Bill 295 co-authored by a Senate Democrat Tom Ivester D- Sayer and House Republican Jason Murphey R-Guthrie was signed today at the Capitol after passing the Senate unopposed last week.

    The legislation was written after an investigation into a string of deaths that happened within months of each other at Narconon Arrowhead.

    Narconon Arrowhead is a non-profit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Canadian that uses the teachings of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.The bill originally passed the Senate unopposed in February. Then in April the legislation passed the House Public Health Committee 9 to 1 with an amendment, the amended legislation went on to pass the House 80 to 13. The final Senate vote was Wednesday. It is now headed to Gov. Mary Fallins desk.

    Last week Ivester said he wrote the bill because of the deaths at Narconon Arrowhead.

    “It was the repeated deaths, that’s what did it for me,” Ivester said.

    “That, and that nothing was being done legislatively about it.”

    He said the legislation will force drug rehabs such as Narconon Arrowhead to be certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Heath and Substance Abuse, giving the state oversight over such facilities.

    Narconon Arrowhead under a multi-agency investigation since the July death of Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso. Her father, Robert Murphy said he calls the bill Stacy's Bill in memory of his daughter. After Stacy Murphy was found dead at Narconon Arrowhead in July 21, the case was investigated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Mental Health.

    The investigation expanded into the 2012 deaths of two others found dead at the facility. All three deaths occurred within months of each other.

    In 2012, two months before Stacy Murphy was found dead, Hillary Holten, 21, was found dead in April, and Gabriel Graves, 32, was found dead at the facility in October of 2011.

    Also under investigation was the 2009 death of Kaysie Dianne Werninck, 28.

    Werninck died at a local hospital while a patient of Narconon Arrowhead.In April Narconon Arrowhead CEO Gary Smith issued a statement regarding the legislation.

    “We have no problem with SB295."

    However, we do not understand the amount of legislative attention that has been spent on (the bill) when you consider the number of critical issues facing Oklahomans that require legislative solutions,” Smith said in the statement.

    Meanwhile SB295 is now aw and will it take effect in November.


  63. Narconon under investigation again

    By Pete Combs, WSB Radio April 26, 2013

    The Scientology-linked drug rehabilitation program known as Narconon of Georgia is again in trouble with the law. This time, agents from the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s office and Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter are looking for evidence of insurance fraud.

    Armed with a search warrant, half a dozen agents, accompanied by two Gwinnett County Police officers, searched the Narconon offices in Norcross, questioning employees as they showed up for work and hauling away more than a dozen computers and boxes full of documents.

    “We have credible information that indicates that insurance fraud is taking place with Narconon,” said Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

    Much of that information was supplied by the family of 19-year old Emily Morton of Rome, who said Narconon tried to bill United Health Care $166,000 for her treatment after they were told they had paid the bill in full - $15,000 cash.

    “They were billing for doctor visits – one amount was for $58,000.00. And she never even saw the doctor,” Morton said.

    The doctor visits were billed under two names: Dr. Casey Locarnini at the Dunwoody Urgent Care Clinic and Dr. Lisa Robbins at the Robbins Health Care Alliance in Stone Mountain.
    When asked about billings for treatment of Emily Morton, Dawn Warner, an employee of Robbins Health Care Alliance, emailed the following statement:

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have NEVER authorized Narcanon or anyone associated with Narcanon to bill ANY insurance under Dr. Robbins. We have NOT seen any of Narcanon's students in several years. Since this does not effect the privacy of our patients, I can tell you we have never seen a patient named Emily Morton. If they indeed did bill under Dr. Robbins this is insurance fraud. I would like to find out how many times they have done this sort of thing. I simply cannot believe that Narcanon would have the gall to try something like this again. Thank you for your assistance.

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  64. Similarly, News-Talk WSB received a statement from Douglas Chalmers, Jr., an attorney who represents Dr. Locarnini:

    “A number of weeks ago, Dr. Locarnini provided notice that he was terminating his contract with Narconon. This past week, he retained our law firm to fully investigate the billing issues that have been brought to his attention…. For a variety of reasons, including protecting the privacy and confidentiality of his patients, he is not able to comment further at this time.”

    Hudgens said both Warner and Locarnini were cooperating with his office.

    “From talking to some of the physicians,” Hudgens told WSB’s Pete Combs, “They have not performed the services that have been billed for.”

    Georgia law states that only a person, not a corporation, can be charged with insurance fraud.

    Investigators hauling away computers and documents said they were looking for who might have been responsible for any false billings to insurance companies. Not only will they analyze the documents for that information, but they will also analyze the computers themselves.

    “Each individual normally has passwords. So if we can tie down the password to the person, then we will be able to determine who it was that submitted the claims,” said Insurance Commission Fraud Unit Lead Investigator Sherry Mowell.


    Friday’s raid was the latest in a series of legal challenges confronting Narconon, which critics have claimed is controlled by the Church of Scientology.

    In February, Narconon of Georgia and its parent company, Narconon International, settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the death of patient Patrick Desmond in 2008. That investigation led to the initiation of licensure revocation proceedings by the Georgia Department of Community Health.

    Narconon’s flagship facility, Arrowhead in southeastern Oklahoma, is embroiled in several lawsuits over the deaths of four patients. In all, Narconon facilities nationwide face approximately 20 lawsuits.

    An attorney for former Narconon of Georgia Executive Director Mary Reiser said he was withholding comment on Friday’s raid until he could get a look at the search warrant.


  65. Civil action suit filed against Narconon

    By Pete Combs, WSB Radio June 4, 2013

    Besieged by allegations of credit card and insurance fraud, negligence and even a wrongful death, Narconon of Georgia is now the focus of a class action lawsuit filed by families of patients who say they were bamboozled and left heartbroken by the Scientology-based drug rehab program.

    “They’re [a total scam],” said attorney Jeff Harris, who filed the suit Tuesday on behalf of seven people and their families – eleven victims in all – who claim they were defrauded by Narconon of Georgia.

    The 41-page lawsuit accuses Narconon of Georgia of fraud, deceptive practices and negligence. It also names the Religious Technology Center, Inc. (RTC); the Association for Better Living and Education International (ABLE); and Narconon International as defendants.

    “These are organizations that lead from the Church of Scientology to Narconon of Georgia. Through these organizations, the church controls every action of Narconon of Georgia and other facilities like it around the country,” Harris said.

    “The lawsuit has not been served,” said Narconon of Georgia attorney Brian McEvoy in a statement to WSB Radio News. “However, from what we understand, this case lacks merit and is simply an attempt to obtain money from a non-profit dedicated to helping address this nation’s drug epidemic.”


    The suit contains many of the complaints that WSB’s Pete Combs has reported from families of patients (Narconon calls them “students”) since he first broke this story last year. According to the complaint, they were promised:

    -- Narconon of Georgia (NNGA) was a properly licensed, "in-patient," residential facility;

    --NNGA had a success rate of over 70%;

    -- the Narconon ''New Life Detoxification Program" would remove drug residues and other toxic substances from the patient's body;

    --NNGA provided a drug-free environment;

    --NNGA provided drug and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment; and

    --NNGA had properly trained staff.

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  66. In every case, the plaintiffs said they were desperate to get help for their addicted loved ones and that they turned to what they thought were independent drug referral agencies they had found on the internet.

    “I was calling all these places on the internet only to find they’re all associated with Narconon,” said Teri Dacy, whose son, Jonathan, died months after enrolling at Narconon of Georgia.

    When she finally talked with someone at the Norcross rehab facility, “They told us they had a complete medical staff, inpatient program, 24/7 counseling. They said they work with different organizations and financial institutions and they would try to get us a medical loan and grants.”

    Instead, the Dacy’s and at least one other family listed as plaintiffs in the class action suit said Narconon obtained credit cards in their names without prior consent, and then charged those cards to the limit.

    “I never authorized my name to nothing,” said Athens-Clarke County firefighter Ben Burgess, who said Narconon of Georgia acquired credit cards in his name and in his wife’s name as well.

    “I thought I was going to have a stinking heart attack! I said, ‘No! I don’t do this! Not credit cards!’ I know what that leads to. I’d never pay it off.”

    Indeed, Burgess said he lost his house as a result of the Narconon debt and wound up moving his family into a mobile home.


    In the complaint, attorney Harris outlines the corporate structure that he alleges the Church of Scientology uses to control Narconon treatment centers around the world.

    “Our contention is that from the top down, everyone involved knows there is no basis for this program in science. It’s the equivalent of a pharmaceutical manufacturer erroneously claiming that they have some magic pill that will cure cancer,” he said.

    The suit, filed in Gwinnett County State Court, asks for restitution from Narconon – demanding that the organization pay back all money received from them, as well as punitive damages and attorney fees.

    Harris said the suit is expanding to add more plaintiffs in Georgia and other states. For more information, check out a website set up by his law firm, Harris, Penn, Lowry, LLP: http://www.hpllegal.com/narconon-class-action.


  67. 2 Investigates: Narconon Georgia

    WSB Atlanta July 4, 2013

    ATLANTA — This Channel 2 Action News investigation exposed a local drug rehabilitation program for allegedly misrepresenting itself to thousands of vulnerable clients, probation officers, and courts around the country.

    It began with our story of one patient’s death, and has already resulted in two ongoing criminal investigations, a search warrant, the program director's resignation, and the state taking action to revoke the program’s license to operate.

    Narconon of Georgia held itself out to the public as a residential inpatient facility, though it is only licensed for outpatient care.

    During our initial series, we interviewed the family of a patient who died after being court ordered into residential treatment. A former employee, who worked there at the time of the death, admitted altering the program’s letterhead to aid in the misrepresentation.

    We filed numerous open records requests, and reviewed complaints and state inspection reports going back a decade. We questioned the state commissioner about deficiencies in the oversight process.
    Channel 2 Action News also spoke with former Church of Scientology insiders about the church’s role in managing the program; one even told us the entire program was a scam to make millions of dollars and recruit vulnerable people into the church.

    As a result of this reporting, the state opened a new investigation into the program. Inspectors utilized records we provided and ultimately cited the program for life threatening violations.
    In December, the state filed notice of intent to revoke the facility's license.

    In January, the program’s executive director and medical director both resigned, as we prepared our follow-up report alleging insurance fraud.

    A patient’s insurance company was billed $166,000, even after her parents had already paid-in-full for the program. The doctors whose license numbers were on the bills told us they never provided drug treatment or therapy, and never authorized Narconon to bill for those services.

    Georgia's Insurance Commissioner launched a separate criminal investigation as a result of our story.

    In April, state fraud investigators and a local district attorney executed search warrants at the facility, hauling away all of its computers and financial and medical records. The search warrant application cited much of what we exposed in our reports, but expanded to include a sampling of four dozen families and three million dollars in alleged fraudulent billing.

    In May, Channel 2 Action News exposed allegations from three additional families who allege Narconon opened unauthorized credit cards in their names to pay for the program. The District Attorney has already announced he will include those allegations in his pending criminal case.

    In June, five families filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all current and former patients, alleging the whole program is a fraud, including its treatment methods, success rate, and business practices.
    Our research has been utilized by news outlets in other media markets around the country, where branches of the Narconon program are now under similar scrutiny. News organizations in England and Germany have also reported on our findings, as there is an international component to the Narconon program as well.

    Several dozen families of current and former patients have reached out via email and calls to share their personal experiences with this program, and to offer additional leads for our investigation. We continue to pursue those leads to this day.

    Narconon of Georgia is scheduled for its license revocation hearing in July.


  68. Narconon Arrowhead loses state certification

    By Jeanne LeFlore, Photo Editor The McAlester News-Capital, Oklahoma August 7, 2013

    McALESTER — Narconon Arrowhead’s medical detox facility in McAlester has lost its state certification, officials say.

    “Their temporary permit has expired and Arrowhead Medical Detox is not certified for medical detox,” said Jeff Desmukes of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health Substance Abuse Services.

    The permit expired May 16 after Narconon Arrowhead failed to correct deficiencies found by the state during earlier inspections, according to Desmukes.

    He said the facility at 1500 S. George Nigh Expressway has been open since 2011.

    Narconon Arrowhead has two facilities; one is the medical-detox facility in McAlester and the other is a non-medical drug rehab in Canadian.

    Both Narconon facilities are non-profit and use the teachings of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

    Narconon has faced investigations, lost certifications and state legislation has been passed after four deaths at the Canadian facility.

    Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, was found dead in a detox room at Narconon Arrowhead in 2012, the third reported death at the facility within a year. The circumstances of her death opened the door for an multi-agency investigation.

    Two months before Murphy was found dead, Hillary Holten, 21, was found dead in her bed April 2012, and Gabriel Graves, 32, was found dead in his bed at the facility in October 2011.

    Also under investigation is the 2009 death of Kaysie Dianne Werninck, 28. Werninck died at a local hospital while she was a client of Narconon Arrowhead’s rehab program.

    The deaths are still under investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office and the District 18 District Attorney’s office. District Attorney Farley Ward told the News-Capital in July that the case remains open.

    The deaths and investigation prompted legislators to cross party lines to pass a law called Senate Bill 295, also known as “Stacy’s Law” for Stacy Murphy. Co-authored by Sen. Tom Ivester D- Sayer and Rep. Jason Murphey R-Guthrie, Stacy’s Law will force drug rehabs such as Narconon Arrowhead to be certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Heath and Substance Abuse, giving the state oversight over such facilities.

    Also since the deaths, numerous lawsuits have been filed against Narconon Arrowhead with allegations such as credit card fraud, wrongful death and employees trading drugs for sex with patients.

    Tulsa Attorney Gary Richardson represents the family of Murphy along with several families suing Narconon Arrowhead.

    And earlier this year, Narconon executives lost a counseling certification when the National Association of Forensic Counselors permanently revoked the Certified Chemical Dependency Counseling certification of Narconon CEO Gary Smith and several Narconon Arrowhead employees.

    A call to Narconon for comment was not returned by presstime Wednesday.


  69. Narconon meets fierce opposition in Hockley Valley

    Hockley is up in arms over Narconon's bid to convert a picturesque estate into an addictions recovery centre. Narconon says its well-studied program has produced 35,000 graduates since 1995.

    By Rachel Mendleson News reporter, Toronto Star September 2, 2013

    In Hockley Village, a sleepy slice of country about an hour’s drive northwest of Toronto, residents are friendly but private, keeping mainly to themselves.

    But that changed when Narconon came to town in late July, with a proposal to buy the sprawling estate of late Conservative MP Donald Blenkarn, and turn it into a private drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.

    During the three-hour-long meeting, residents peppered Clark Carr, president of California-based Narconon International, with questions about the controversial rehab program that is based on teachings of the (even more controversial) Church of Scientology.

    Carr tried to dispel the notion that rehab facilities are an inherent risk to the community, and espoused the virtues of Narconon’s drug-free program, which he said “has been looked at very carefully in many countries.”

    But widespread opposition to the proposal has since made relative strangers into close allies. Petitions have been launched. Letters have been sent to high-placed government officials. A month after Carr’s visit, the village is plastered with red and black “No Narconon in Hockley” signs, on sale for $10 at the general store. (Proceeds go toward fighting the proposal.)

    “It’s the No. 1 topic of conversation,” said resident Lisa Caissie. “People stopping in the road, you know what they’re talking about.”

    Described online as an “exclusive country estate,” the Blenkarn property spans 150 picturesque acres, a short walk from the quiet village centre, just east of Orangeville. Listed at $2.9 million, it includes five cottages, a lake and an outdoor sauna.

    Narconon, which will require a zoning amendment to operate its program, has placed a conditional bid on the property through a holding company in Delaware. The site is one of several being considering “as part of Narconon’s ongoing expansion program,” Carr told the Star. It would be the first in Ontario.

    In Hockley, however, residents are readying for battle. Some, including Caissie, simply don’t believe a rehab facility belongs in the family-oriented village, which rarely sees police cruisers and has limited local medical services.

    Others have been gripped by an Internet-fuelled panic about Narconon itself. The program, which includes detoxifying sauna sessions and high doses of vitamins, is lauded by famous Scientologists Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley. But the methods have recently come under fire amid lawsuits filed by the families of three Narconon clients who died at a facility in Oklahoma.

    “People immediately go onto Wikipedia, and the minute they start reading about Narconon, it just gets really scary,” said resident Harvey Kolodny.

    After resident Jamie Thompson heard about the proposal, he went online, and was put off by Scientology techniques like the E-meter, a lie-detecting, thought-tracking device used, according to the church’s website, “to help . . . locate and confront areas of spiritual upset.”

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  70. Thompson manages the general store and lives with his young family in a rented house next to the Blenkarn property. He has a “No Narconon” sign at home, but said he is “nervous” about displaying it.

    To bolster their position, residents have enlisted the help of David Love, who has campaigned hard against the addictions recovery program since leaving a Narconon facility in Trois-Rivières, where he was a client and worked on staff before it closed last year.

    Before being admitted to the program, Love said he was asked to stare into the eyes of a counsellor for hours on end, and identify objects of various colours in a room.

    “It’s the most craziest stuff you’ve ever seen,” he said.

    Once admitted, Love, who was battling a morphine and cocaine addiction, said he witnessed other clients being taken away in ambulances. He was hired on staff upon graduation with “no training, no nothing,” he said.

    According to CBC, a regional health authority in Quebec shuttered the Narconon facility after the methods used at the centre landed at least four clients in hospital.

    The health authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Carr tells a much different story. In an email response to questions from the Star, he said the Trois-Rivières facility closed after the province “fundamentally changed its posture toward what kind of drug rehabilitation it would tolerate” to “strictly medical, drug substitution, and so forth.”

    Narconon was told it had to reapply for its licence under these new conditions, and the province “made it clear that they would never approve Narconon unless we irreversibly changed our method of treatment,” he said.

    Carr disputes the allegation that four clients were taken to hospital due to the techniques used as the centre.

    “It is true and appropriate that occasionally someone would be referred to a proper medical authority when and as needed,” he said. “This is what any and all drug rehabs do and are supposed to do. That this was ‘because of Narconon methods’ is a fabrication.”

    As part of Narconon’s communication skills course, Carr said, clients “practise the ability to confront another person,” but do not “stare into the eyes of a counsellor for hours at a time.”

    Regarding Love being hired without training, Carr said Narconon Trois-Rivières hired its own staff, not Narconon International.

    When Narconon accepts recent graduates onto “trainee programs,” they are always put onto a series of staff training steps, he said.

    He said the investigations into the deaths at Narconon’s Oklahoma facility are ongoing, but that “there is no evidence whatsoever to support the allegations in the media that vitamins or sauna played any role whatsoever in these incidents.” No charges have been laid.

    Narconon staff is trained in emergency medical protocol, and the Hockley facility would have a “properly trained” nurse on site, as well as a consulting medical doctor on the premises, “as needed,” Carr said.

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  71. To gain admission to Narconon, clients must be approved by a medical physician “as physically and mentally capable of doing” the program, which is substantiated by scientific evidence, and has produced more than 35,000 graduates since 1995, he said.

    “There are certain persons with their own colored histories and agendas who have taken on a campaign against Narconon and also Scientology,” said Carr.

    “If there is someone who has a grudge or fixed opinion about Scientology, I sincerely recommend he or she take it up with Church personnel . . . Why anyone would express that he or she is ‘fearful’ is beyond me. We all couldn’t be more open to questions.”

    Rev. Yvette Shank, a spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology, said in an email that Narconon “has its origins” in the religious writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, but is a “secular” program that “teaches no belief system.”

    “Since Narconon’s inception, members of the Church of Scientology world over have supported the organization,” she said. “We are proud of our association with Narconon.”

    Shank said the Narconon facility is “completely separate” and “not related” to a future Scientology retreat, envisioned on a nearby property the church purchased in 2009.

    The church intends to convert the former Hockley Highlands Inn and Conference Centre into a sprawling retreat with a top-notch café, conference centre and lodge accommodations, with 200 staff members.

    A promotional video on the church’s website describes the retreat as “exactly what is required to assist Canadian Scientologists through the ultimate frontier at the top of the bridge to total freedom.”

    However, Narconon’s Hockley proposal is hardly a done deal.

    Jacquie Tschekalin, director of planning for the township of Adjala-Tosorontio, which includes Hockley Village, said the township has received an application for a zoning amendment to allow a 24-bed residential addiction recovery centre.

    Although formal processing (which includes public meetings and ultimately a council vote) has yet to begin, Tschekalin said the township has received dozens of calls from concerned residents, “and lots and lots of email, too.”

    Tschekalin also has questions about traffic issues, and the potential strain on local services and the lack of oversight by the province, which does not license private addictions recovery centres.

    But the municipality, which currently has no such facilities, “can’t be discriminatory,” she said.

    “If we’re going to change the zoning it has to work for everybody regardless of who owns the property.”

    Bill Schoenhardt, who is handling the sale on behalf of his sister-in-law, Marguerite Blenkarn, said she decided to sell the property after her husband, “the major patriarch in the family,” passed away last year.

    He knows many local residents have questions about the proposal, but said it is not his role “to present or defend a Narconon centre.”

    A good portion of the opposition, he suspects, stems from the fact that some people “don’t like anything that’s different.”

    “They have their concerns . . . and whether they’re valid concerns, exaggerated concerns or fictitious concerns, they have their right to express them,” he said. “Thank goodness we live in a free country.”

    With files for Torstar News Services


  72. Opposition mounting to proposed rehab centre

    By Brad Pritchard, Alliston Herald September 4, 2013

    HOCKLEY - Hockley Valley residents are ramping up efforts to stop a controversial rehab centre with Scientology ties from setting up in their community.

    At the end of July, the Canadian branch of Narconon International, a Scientology-based organization that operates non-medical drug rehab centres around the world, announced plans to bring a treatment centre to a 150-acre rural property along the Mono-Adjala Townline just north of Highway 9.

    The announcement was met with overwhelming opposition by the community and since then residents have banded together to do what they can to stop the proposal.

    In recent weeks “No Narconon" signs have sprouted around the village and an online petition has nearly 300 signatures.

    Claire Morris is one of the local residents trying to spread the word to stop the proposal. She lives within a five-minute drive of property currently up for sale for $2.9 million.

    “If people are interested in supporting it, it will make it possible for them to track it down and sign,” she wrote. “There is also a paper version at the Hockley General Store. A Facebook group has also been formed.”

    Morris and other residents are against the centre for several reasons, including concerns it will devalue properties, its potential security risks and its association with the controversial religion.

    The proposal isn’t being received well by local politicians either.

    “I would have to say there was very little mention of the Scientology aspect until questions from the audience raised it,” said Coun. Sam Keenan, who attended the public meeting. “I would have to say the majority of residents were against it and were quite vocal about it too.”

    Clark Carr, the corporate president of Narconon International who travelled from California to speak at the meeting, said the organization is moving ahead with its proposal despite the local opposition.

    “Of course, we understand that many people have a strong concern about any kind of alcohol and other drug rehab in their neighbourhood vicinity, whether Narconon or another,” he said in a written statement.

    Carr said nothing new on the proposal has been submitted to the township since the public meeting. The proposal hasn’t been brought before council yet either.

    In an earlier interview, Carr stated several reasons for choosing the Hockley property for the rehab centre, with the main factors being the characteristics of the site and its proximity to Toronto. Being relatively close to the Church of Scientology retreat in the neighbouring Town of Mono was also a factor.

    “We wouldn’t be bothering anybody, nor would anybody be bother us,” he said. “Since they (the rehab patients) don’t leave campus without somebody with them, we are quite certain, because we’ve been in rural communities for 10, 20 and 30 years, that we can be good neighbours once we are there.”

    continued in next comment...

  73. Carr said the rehab program, which was established in 1966 by William Benitez who at the time was a prisoner at the Arizona state jail, is based on the self-help teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

    While the church and Narconon support each other, he said they are separated both corporately and financially.

    “We very openly acknowledge on all of our materials and all our website, that L. Ron Hubbard, the materials are based on his research,” he said.

    Over the years Carr said the program has grown and expanded to many countries. While its effectiveness has been called in to question, he calls it “very successful” with about a 75 per cent patient success rate.

    “Narconon has produced 35,000 graduates in 30 countries since 1995,” he said. “It’s been operating in good faith and we are dealing with a tremendously challenging field and getting very good results.”

    Last April, Narconon was forced to close one of its rehab centres in Trois-Rivières, Que., after four patients were hospitalized.

    Carr maintains this had nothing to do with the treatment methods, saying the province changed its licensing rules requiring all rehab programs to follow a medical model.

    He said patients of the Narconon program undergo a more “holistic approach”, using sauna sessions and vitamin supplements to break their addictions.

    Narconon is also facing tough questions over one of its rehab centres in Oklahoma after four young people died at the site in recent years.

    “Narconon cannot comment on the on-going investigations,” he said. “The center has of course continued to deliver its drug rehabilitation services and is working closely with the state agencies on the matter.”

    If the Hockley site is established, Carr said they would work within the existing provincial regulations, including whatever level of medical supervision is required.

    “Our program is an educational model, but whatever the law requires in terms of the training the personnel and the kind of personnel, we always comply with that,” he said.

    Carr said the program would accept patients or “students” 18 years and over and the site would be able to accommodate 24 people at a time, with the average stay lasting three to four months. Roughly speaking, he said the treatment would cost a person around $25,000.

    To view the community’s petition against the treatment centre visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-drug-rehab-in-hockley.


  74. Narconon loses bid to buy property in Hockley Village

    Amid mounting concerns over Narconon’s proposal, the sellers chose a “white knight” offer.

    By: Rachel Mendleson News reporter, TORONTO STAR September 9, 2013

    Narconon has lost its controversial bid to buy the picturesque estate of late Conservative MP Donald Blenkarn and turn it into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.

    The Blenkarn family has chosen to sell the Hockley Village property to an area resident, according to Bill Schoenhardt, who is handling the sale on behalf of his sister-in-law, Marguerite Blenkarn.

    Schoenhardt said the family received a counter-offer from Narconon, but opted instead for a so-called “white knight” bid from within the community, which is located just east of Orangeville.

    “You look at the finances, you look at the closing date, you look at the conditions and you look at the total environment — the social footprint — and the offer we accepted won out on every account,” he said.

    The deal was finalized amid mounting concern among residents about Narconon’s drug-free withdrawal program and its ties to the Church of Scientology.

    In an email to the Star, Narconon International president Clark Carr said it would “not be appropriate to comment” on the sale, as it “is presently being handled by our real estate professionals.”

    “Narconon is very interested in opening a facility in Canada and we are continuing to explore opportunities to do so,” Carr said.

    Carr has previously lauded the benefits of Narconon’s methods, and denied allegations that the program, which includes detoxifying sauna sessions and high doses of vitamins, is unsafe.

    Narconon is rooted in the religious writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, but is a “secular” program, according to a spokeswoman for the church. She said the Narconon proposal and the church’s plans to open a retreat nearby, at the former Hockley Highlands Inn and Conference Centre were “not related.”

    Resident Lisa Caissie, who helped organize against the proposal, said she was overcome with emotion when she heard about the sale.

    “I started crying, because it’s such a relief,” she said.

    Schoenhardt declined to name the buyer or the selling price, but said it was below the $2.9 million asking price for the 150-acre property, which includes five cottages and an outdoor sauna.

    Narconon had placed a conditional bid on the property through a holding company in Delaware. It would have needed a zoning amendment to open a rehab facility on the residential property.

    Schoenhardt would not comment on the buyer’s vision for the land, but said “a zoning amendment was not conditional on the sale of the property, so it appears he does not need a zoning change for what he plans on doing.”

    With files from Mariana Ionova


  75. Attorney in Narconon Arrowhead lawsuit calls ruling a "Big Win"

    By Jeanne LeFlore Staff Writer, Mcalester News Capital January 7, 2014

    McALESTER — A judge ruled Tuesday that hundreds of records of Narconon Arrowhead clients, trainees and employees related to incidents of drug or alcohol must be released in connection with an ongoing lawsuit.

    “Its a big win for the family and for the state of Oklahoma,” said attorney Donald Smollen.

    Smollen represents the family of Heather Landmeier, a Narconon graduate who has been in a vegetative state since she overdosed on heroin and OxyContin.

    Narconon Arrowhead is a drug rehabilitation facility in Canadian that uses Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings.

    Three clients of the facility — Hillary Holten, 21, Gabriel Graves, 33, and Stacy Murphy, 20 — were found dead there within a nine-month span. A fourth, Kaycie Werninck, 28, died in 2009 at a local hospital.

    The most recent death, the July 2012 death of Murphy, spurred an multi-agency investigation, which is still ongoing, according to Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns.

    Tuesday’s ruling in the Pittsburg County courtroom of Associate District Judge James Bland followed another ruling made in December stating that attorney Jeff Contreras must provide the court and Narconon a list of his clients.

    Contreras told the News-Capital that he is representing “respondents” in the case.

    The respondents are former Narconon Arrowhead students, trainees or employees who were selected to produce documents related to alleged incidents of drug and alcohol use by its staff, trainees and students, according to Contreras.

    Contreras said he had no comment about Tuesday’s ruling as he walked out of the courtroom after the ruling was made.

    The ruling in the most recent in series of lawsuits filed against Narconon Arrowhead and Narconon International alleging wrongful death, credit card and insurance fraud and employees trading drugs for sex, according to court documents.

    Landmeier remains permanently disabled and requires 24-hour care with lifetime medical costs estimated at more than $30 million, according to Smollen.

    “But this isn’t about the money. This is about putting an end to what goes on at the facility,” the attorney said.

    “Families members like the Landmeiers give Narconon Arrowhead $40,000 to $50,000 to help their children.

    “They don’t expect their children to come out permanently disabled or worse.”

    Smollen said the judge in the case meticulously reviewed several hundred records regarding sexual misconduct and drug use at the Narconon Arrowhead facility.

    “It was a tedious process,” he said.

    Of the hundreds of cases, there were 19 objections filed from respondents who did not wish to have their names disclosed, Smollen said.

    “(Narconon Arrowhead) has really tried hard to prevent the public from knowing what’s going on inside their facility,” Smollen.

    continued below

  76. Tuesday’s ruling follows a string of actions involving the Narconon facility.

    Last year, the Senate passed Senate Bill 295, nicknamed “Stacy’s Law” after Stacy Murphy, to regulate facilities such as Narconon Arrowhead.

    And, Narconon Arrowhead’s top executive Gary Smith and several of his employees had their counseling certification revoked by the National Association of Forensic Counselors.

    Then last year, Narconon Arrowhead’s medical detox facility in McAlester lost its state certification after a temporary permit expired.

    Meanwhile, Tuesday’s ruling was part of pre-trial proceedings in the Landmeier lawsuit originally filed in March 2010. The suit alleges drugs were given to her by Narconon staff while she was in the program.

    After graduating from the program, Landmeier relapsed, was readmitted and then kicked out two different times for allegedly violating rules by using drugs and alcohol, according to allegations

    The suit alleges those violations occurred after drugs were provided to her by Narconon staff.

    The suit alleges that the day after she was removed for the last time, she overdosed in a Tulsa motel room, leaving her in a permanent vegetative state, paralyzed from the neck down.

    The lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 and alleges breach of duty of care.

    Narconon Arrowhead Executive Director Gary Smith did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment about the case.

    In a September statement from Narconon Arrowhead, representatives said they couldn’t can’t comment on the case but that drugs and alcohol are “strictly prohibited” at the facility.

    “We cannot comment on the Landmeier case or any individual student’s case because of federal laws which prohibit disclosure of such information, as we have previously explained,” Narconon said in the statement. “We can tell you generally, without reference to any particular student, that to our knowledge no member of our staff has given drugs or alcohol to any of our students, and that we have zero tolerance for anything like that because it is contrary to everything we stand for.

    “The same is true for our policy regarding drugs or alcohol on our premises. Both are strictly prohibited.

    “We work constantly to protect our students every way we can, yet, as with any program such as ours, there will be some students who don’t always follow the rules. When that does occur, we deal with it within our treatment approach, and continue to work with the student unless that student’s conduct presents unacceptable risk to others. The safety and welfare of every student in the program is of paramount importance to us, as has been demonstrated by our long history of offering successful drug and alcohol abuse treatment services.”


  77. Scientology under fire for drug crime claim

    by SAM GRIFFIN – Irish Independent JANUARY 16, 2014

    THE Church of Scientology has been criticised after a propaganda video suggested it helped reduce Irish drug crime by 85pc.

    Several businesses in Dublin have also hit out at the church for filming their premises as part of a video shown at a New Year's Eve celebration in Clearwater, Florida.

    The video, which is a presentation by Scientology leader David Miscavige, claims to show the work done by the controversial group around the world and includes a special feature on its efforts in Ireland.

    It refers to Ireland as a country of "enduring beauty and beautiful sadness" but one that has "not been immune to decaying values of the 21st Century".

    The group, whose most famous member is Tom Cruise, has premises on Abbey Street in Dublin's city centre where it has been 'testing' the public and also holding life-improvement classes.

    In the video, the group says it has distributed more than 110,000 information booklets in various businesses around Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland and that this has resulted in an 85pc drop in drug-related crime.

    Latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show a decline in drug crime -- about 7pc in the past 12 months -- but nothing like the 85pc drop claimed in the video.

    Among the businesses mentioned is a well-known and reputable pub in Temple Bar.

    Last night a spokesman for the pub said he had "no knowledge" of the group distributing information from the bar.

    A popular hair studio said it allowed Scientologists to film on its premises on the promise that the company's name would not be included and that the video would not appear online.


    The video also portrays interviews done by the group on BBC Radio Foyle in the north and Ocean FM in the north-west as well as pieces in a number of regional newspapers.

    Both radio stations said the interviews had been faked.

    "The BBC is an independent, impartial organisation. Any misuse of its brand is considered a serious matter and will be investigated," a spokesperson for BBC Radio Foyle said.

    Niall Delaney from Ocean FM described the interview and the depiction of the station's studio as "bogus".

    Despite several attempts to make contact with the group, nobody from theChurch of Scientology spoke to the Irish Independent last night.

    When taken to task by Ocean FM about the "interview" in the video, Scientologist Zabrina Shortt claimed the group had "re-enacted" an earlier interview with the station.


  78. Scientologys drug rehab facility in Nevada sued over the usual litany of deceptions

    by Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker February 2, 2014

    Last year, as Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon, was sinking deeper and deeper into trouble, we noticed that an attorney in Las Vegas, Ryan Hamilton, had begun advertising online for Narconon victims. It was another sign of just how bad things were getting for Scientology’s rehab facilities, which were being sued and investigated in several states.

    Well, Hamilton’s ad apparently paid off, because this week he filed a federal lawsuit against Scientology’s Narconon facility in Nevada, and the lawsuit’s complaint is one of the best written and most thorough that we’ve ever read.

    David, Stacy, and Jack Welch of Texas are suing Narconon Fresh Start, doing business as the Rainbow Canyon Retreat in Caliente, Nevada, for breach of contract, fraud, and negligence.

    According to the complaint, in August Stacy Welch and her husband David began searching on the Internet for a rehab facility for their son Jack, who was 19. Like so many others before her, Stacy found a site that purported to be an independent dispenser of advice about such facilities. She was strongly persuaded by a consultant from the website to send Jack to a Nevada center called “Fresh Start.”

    “The consultant never referred to the facility as Narconon, but only as ‘Fresh Start,’” the complaint says.

    Stacey and David were then told that they had to hurry, or their son “would wind up dead.”

    That certainly sounds familiar. Last year, we reported that some scripts used by Narconon referrers had been leaked to the Internet, and one of the things that consultants are told to do is get a family worked up into a frenzy, telling them that if they don’t hurry, it could have dire consequences.

    The consultant then set up an interview with Narconon Fresh Start’s intake director, Josh Penn, who told the Welches that Narconon has a 76 percent success rate.

    That’s another thing that comes right out of the scripts, but as we’ve pointed out before, even Narconon’s own legal affairs officer has admitted that there’s no science for the ludicrous success rates the program claims. (Reputable drug rehab programs claim success rates of about 25 percent.)

    The Welches told Penn that they had spotted a reference to L. Ron Hubbard on the the Fresh Start website, but when they asked whether Scientology was involved, Penn assured them that it wasn’t.

    The Welches were told they’d have to pay $33,000 up front, and that before Jack could enter the program in Nevada, he’d first have to go through a medical detox in Murrieta, California.

    The Welches signed a contract, and the complaint points out that the contract describes Narconon’s origin — it was started in 1966 by a man named William Benitez, who had been inspired by Hubbard’s book, The Fundamentals of Thought.

    The complaint points out that the actual name of the book is Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought, The Basic Book of the Theory and Practice of Scientology for Beginners. The Welches believe that the full name is left out of the Narconon contract in order to hide the program’s connection to Scientology.

    The contract also refers to the Narconon program as a secular one. But as we’ve pointed out many times, the Narconon program is virtually identical to the introductory levels of Scientology itself, as the Welches learned…

    “Despite Narconon’s representation that it is a secular program, the Narconon Program has patients unwittingly practicing and studying Scientology in place of counseling for substance abuse.”

    The first indication that the Welches had made a mistake was when they learned they’d have to pay an additional $3,250 for Jack’s medical detox.

    They also figured out that the supposedly independent referrer was in fact “affiliated with Narconon,” and received a bounty for sending patients there. (In fact, Luke Catton has told us that this is definitely the case. continued below

  79. Catton, who was president of Narconon’s flagship operation in Oklahoma, operated numerous referral websites, and received a 10 percent commission for each person convinced to sign up for Narconon.)

    After the detox facility (which they suspect was part of the Narconon network, even though they had been told it was “independent”), Jack was flown to Las Vegas, where he was picked up for the long drive to Caliente, Nevada “by a convicted felon who was the boyfriend of one of the Narconon staff members.”

    When he got there, he was told he had to sign “a statement attesting that he is not a journalist and that he would not sue Narconon for anything that happens in the facility.”

    Jack was housed in an area known as the “Treehouse,” where he began to go through Scientology training. He was later moved to the main housing area. But during his time there, he was not allowed to talk to his parents very often.

    “In the initial calls to his family, Jack was always on a speakerphone with a staff member present. Jack and other students were afraid to criticize Narconon over the phone for fear of repurcussions from staff members,” the complaint says.

    It also alleges that staff members were using drugs. As others have pointed out, staff workers at Narconon are former patients, and there are no medical personnel on hand.

    Another confirmation of what Lucas Catton and others have told us: at Narconon drug rehab centers, there is no drug counseling going on. “Despite Narconon’s representations that Jack would receive counseling, at no point did Narconon staff ever speak to Jack about the specifics of his life or his drug use and its causes. In fact, no one at Narconon ever spoke to Jack about substance abuse at all,” the complaint says.

    Instead, Jack received more Scientology training. Including the notorious exercise TR 8, which includes shouting instructions at an ashtray.

    “Jack, like other students in the Narconon facility there at the time, was made to perform TR 8, and many other TRs that have no apparent connection to the treatment of substance abuse, for several hours each day,” the complaint says. “Jack felt very uneasy to be in a room filled with students screaming commands at ashtrays at the top of their lungs.”

    The complaint then goes into a detailed description of the Scientology concepts and procedures that students are expected to absorb. They are also expected to sit in a sauna for several hours a day as part of Scientology’s “Purification Rundown,” which includes doses of Niacin up to 5,000 mg a day. Jack spent 24 to 26 days in the sauna.

    “Jack experienced severe dehydration, headaches, and persistent diarrhea during the sauna program. The Niacin made his skin feel as if he had a bad, lasting sunburn. He observed many of his fellow students likewise becoming ill during the sauna program. Each time Jack complained to the staff supervisor on duty about his severe headaches and feeling ill, he was told to get back in the ‘Box’ and, ‘What turns it on, turns it off’.”

    The complaint alleges that Jack continues to have health problems related to his time in the Purification Rundown.

    To be eligible for federal district court, the Welches allege that they have suffered more than $75,000 in losses. But no dollar amount of damages sought is listed.

    In November 2012, Las Vegas reporter Nathan Baca did a two-part investigative series about the facility at Caliente. He later reported that Nevada’s oversight is so weak, the facility is essentially unregulated. After his story, a bill was proposed to regulate the rehab center, but the bill failed to become law.

    Read the court filing in Welch v Narconon Fresh Start at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/203989086/Welch-v-Narconon-Fresh-Start


  80. Narconon Rehab Called a Scientology Come-on

    By MEGAN GALLEGOS, Courthouse News Service February 26, 2014

    LAS VEGAS (CN) - A mother calls Narconon's $33,000 rehab treatment for her son a fraudulent and dangerous recruitment tool for Scientology, which, though mentioned throughout the 20-page lawsuit, is not named as a defendant.

    Cathy Tarr and her son Michael Tarr sued Narconon Fresh Start dba Rainbow Canyon Retreat in Federal Court, alleging fraud, breach of contract and negligence.

    Narconon and its dba are the only named defendants, other than Does 1-100 and Roe Corporations I - X. The lengthy complaint, however, names plenty of names.

    Cathy Tarr claims she borrowed money to pay $33,000 for Narconon's treatment for her 24-year-old son, "who was struggling with a heroin addiction."

    She says she found a 1-800 number on the Internet, and "an 'independent contractor' referred Cathy to Narconon. Soon after, Cathy received a call from Fresh Start Intake Director, John Penn."

    The complaint continues: "Mr. Penn represented to Cathy that the Narconon program was so effective because its sauna and vitamin program, the New Life Detoxification Program, makes patients sweat out residual drug toxins in the cells. These residual drug toxins, Penn claimed, are a large part of what cause drug cravings.

    "Penn represented that the New Life Detoxification Program had been scientifically and medically proven as effective.

    "Penn further represented: (1) Narconon would provide extensive drug and counseling for Michael; (2) that Narconon would safely detox Michael off of heroin; and (3) that Narconon staff are properly trained to care for and treat persons with heroin addiction.

    "Mr. Penn also provided Cathy pamphlets about the Narconon program that represent that the Narconon program as secular and as having a 76 percent success rate. The pamphlet is attached hereto as Exhibit A.

    "The pamphlet describes the founding of the Narconon program as follows: 'The very first Narconon (meaning "no drugs") program was founded in 1966 by William Benitez, after being inspired by the practical betterment philosophy of author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard in the book, 'The Fundamentals of Thought.'

    "To hide Narconon's origin in Scientology, Narconon misrepresented the title of the L. Ron Hubbard book that inspired its creation. The actual title of the L. Ron Hubbard Book is 'Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought, The Basic Book of the Theory and Practice of Scientology for Beginners,' (hereafter 'Scientology: Fundamentals of Thought')."

    Tarr claims that Penn told her she had to pay the $33,000 up front, and "urged her to admit her son immediately into 'Fresh Start' for treatment because if she did not, Michael would wind up dead.""

    Tarr says she borrowed the money from her retirement savings plan and sent him to the Narconon facility near Caliente, Nev.

    continued below

  81. For the first eight days, Michael spent time in Narconon's "Treehouse facility" going through detox for his heroin addiction. For this, the Tarrs claim, "There were no medical professionals in the Treehouse, but only Narconon interns and staff who do not have medical training."

    After this "detox," he entered Narconon's two other "components: (1) course materials consisting of eight books by L. Ron Hubbard and (2) a sauna and vitamin program known as the 'New Detoxification Program."

    The Tarrs add: "Narconon courses are self-taught by the patients and overseen by counselors. Narconon students and Scientology practitioners perform these TRs [Training Routines] in pairs known as twins. The counselors have little to no training beyond the training they received from Narconon and/or the Church of Scientology."

    The program included 6-hour saunas and massive doses of niacin, the Tarrs say.

    According to the lawsuit, the rehab program is difficult to distinguish, if it can be distinguished at all, from indoctrination into Scientology.

    The complaint states: "Narconon's 'New Life Detoxification' program is identical to the Scientology ritual known as 'Purification Rundown,' or the 'Purif.' The Purification Rundown is a required component of Scientology training and is part of Scientology's 'Bridge to Total Freedom.' The Bridge to Total Freedom is the path a practicing Scientologist moves up to attain the state of 'Clear.' Attaining the state of Clear is often regarded as the highest goal for a Scientologist.

    "Narconon's rationale for the sauna program is that residue of many different types of drug remain [in] the body's fatty tissue long after use. The drug residue is released from the fatty tissue from time to time into the bloodstream causing the individual to crave the drug, and, ultimately, relapse. Narconon and Scientology assert that the sauna program flushes these residual drug toxins out of the addict's system thereby reducing the cravings the residue causes.

    "Under the New Life Detoxification program, students first exercise vigorously before entering the sauna each day. On entering the sauna, Narconon requires each student to ingest increasing doses of Niacin and a 'vitamin bomb.' Narconon increased Michael's dosages of Niacin up to 5,000 mg/day - well beyond the recommended daily allowance. [In fact, about 300 times the recommended daily dose.]
    "Narconon requires students to spend six hours per day for five weeks in a sauna at temperatures between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

    "There are no medical personnel overseeing Narconon students undergoing the sauna program. There is only a "sauna supervisor" who sits outside the sauna while the students are inside. The sauna supervisor does not have any special training to deal with medical issues, but serves primarily to police the students for compliance with the sauna regimen."

    The Tarrs claims Michael received no education about substance abuse but only about Scientology.

    Michael stayed on as an unpaid intern at Narconon for a month after completing the program. But when he came home, he started using drugs again, overdosed and nearly died within two weeks and is now in another drug treatment program, according to the complaint.

    The Tarrs want their $33,000 back, punitive damages and attorney's fees.

    They are represented by Ryan A. Hamilton in Las Vegas.


  82. Lawsuit requests evidence in Narconon investigation

    By Kandra Wells, Mcalester News Capital Editor April 8, 2014

    McALESTER — A lawsuit filed after three people were found dead at Narconon Arrowhead, asks a state agency to turn over evidence from it’s investigation into the deaths.

    Stacy Murphy, 20, of Owasso, Hillary Holten, 21, of Carrollton, Texas, and Gabriel Graves, 32, Kingfisher, all died at Narconon Arrowhead within a 9-month period.

    Since July 2012 the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Pittsburg County Sheriff, District Attorney Farley Ward and the Oklahoma Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services have been investigating the deaths.

    And all three families have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the Church of Scientology based facility in Canadian.

    The latest motion filed Thursday in Pittsburg County Court by the three families against Narconon of Oklahoma d.b.a. Narconon Arrowhead, Narconon International, the Association for Better Living and Education International and Gerald Wootan, DO, asks court to order ODMHSAS and its investigator at the time former ODMHSAS director Kimberly Poff to produce information linked to the investigation.

    The lawsuit states the disclosure is necessary for the “protection of a legitimate public interest.”

    Murphy and Holten died while in Narconon’s withdrawal unit and the facility was operating under ODMHSAS the information contained in their investigation would “shed light on Arrowhead’s performance or lack there of ...,” the lawsuit states.

    According to the lawsuit information requested would include results of the ODMHSAS investigation of allegations that “Arrowhead committed abuse, neglect and mistreatment.”

    Meanwhile, on Friday, the attorney for the families, Gary Richardson said he’s just searching for the truth.

    “It’s all about the search for the truth, whatever that might be,” Richardson said.

    Calls to Narconon Arrowhead were not returned by presstime Friday.


  83. Rights of drug addiction patients violated: ruling

    Scientology-linked Narconon exploited and abused those it purported to be treating: Human Rights Commission


    Four years after he left Narconon Trois-Rivières, and two years after the so-called drug rehabilitation centre was shut down by the public health agency, David Love has been vindicated by the Quebec Human Rights Commission, which concluded the centre exploited and abused him — financially, physically and mentally — along with two other complainants.

    Love, who was first a patient then an employee at Narconon until he realized it was closely linked to the Church of Scientology, said the commission’s recent decision was a “global win” against Narconon, which continues to run drug rehabilitation centres in several countries — putting patients’ lives at risk.

    “Some say I’m in it for the money, but it’s not true — I want to help the addicts,” said Love, a native of B.C. who has stayed in Montreal to fight Narconon, first before the Quebec Labour Tribunal, then before the Human Rights Commission.

    Both agencies mediated in his favour and against Narconon, an organization vaunted by Scientologists like actors Kirstie Alley and John Travolta.

    “This isn’t just about criticizing Narconon and Scientology,” Love said. “It’s about saving lives. Drug addiction is an epidemic and I want to help addicts avoid the pitfalls of these pseudo treatment centres.”

    Love wouldn’t disclose the amount the commission has proposed Narconon pay Love and the two other plaintiffs, also former patients, in moral and punitive damages. But he confirmed the total amount is in the “six figures.”

    Michel Ménard, a lawyer for Narconon Trois-Rivières, said he couldn’t comment on the decision other than to say it was merely a recommendation — and not binding.

    Citing confidentiality, Patricia Poirier, a spokesperson for the commission, said she couldn’t comment, either. The commission is still studying the case and has not yet decided whether to take the matter further and present it before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, she said.

    Based on a three-year investigation of the facility in Trois-Rivières, the written document obtained by the Gazette says Narconon submitted Love to “degrading and humiliating practices,” “controversial teaching methods not based on any scientific study,” “poor living and food conditions” and “coercion and forcible confinement.”

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  84. Following the lead of the Supreme Court of Canada, the commission categorized drug addiction as a disability, and concluded that Love and others were discriminated against and financially exploited because of their disability.

    Narconon patients — considered “students” by the facility — were charged $23,000 for the treatment, which typically lasted three to five months and included high doses of vitamins such as niacin combined with four- to five-hour sessions in a sauna — known as the “Purification Rundown.”

    Following the teachings of Scientology founder and science fiction writer Ron L. Hubbard, patients were also deprived of any prescribed medication for mental illness, and had to undergo personality and IQ tests as well as training routines, which Love said were designed to make them accept to be under someone else’s control — and teach them how to control others.

    Sitting in a restaurant near his workplace in Montreal, Love said it is this mind control that has left him suffering so many years later.

    He is drug-free, but traumatized by his experience. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he often has nightmares and can’t sleep. Sometimes he bursts into tears sitting at his desk at work.

    The decision feels good, he said, but it’s not over.

    Narconon Trois-Rivières, which was told to pay the plaintiffs by March 21, has refused. It offered Love 20 per cent of the recommended amount, but only if he signed a non-disclosure agreement that would prevent him from speaking publicly about the case or his experience with Narconon.

    He refused.

    “It’s more important for me to get Narconon exposed as one of the most dangerous, quasi rehab centres in the world,” said Love, who believes Narconon funnels millions of dollars into the Church of Scientology. “Fourteen people have died inside Narconon centres, how many have died outside?”

    In the book he is writing about his experience, which he hopes to publish with donations from the public — Roller Coaster Ride Out of Hell — Love refers to several suicide attempts by patients, like one at Narconon Trois-Rivières who jumped from a second-storey window after staff allegedly took away his anti-depressants.

    When Narconon Trois- Rivières was closed in April 2012, the head of the Mauricie public health agency, Marc Lacour, said that at least four of the centre’s patients had been taken to a hospital in the previous few months, but for reasons of patient confidentiality, the agency could not provide details.

    Narconon has since tried to open a new centre in Hockley, Ont., north of Toronto, but has been refused the necessary zoning changes after residents mounted a concerted campaign against it. It still operates about 50 centres around the world, mostly in the United States and Western Europe.

    Calls for comment made Tuesday to the Montreal office of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a “mental health watchdog” co-founded by the Church of Scientology, were not returned.


  85. Scientologist bid for drug rehab centre rejected

    by Damien Murphy, Sydney Morning Herald May 11, 2014

    Wyong Shire Council has rejected a Church of Scientology proposal for a controversial drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in the Yarramalong Valley in the central coast hinterland.

    A church offshoot, the Association for Better Living and Education, lodged a development application last year but did not bother to await Wyong's decision, outlaying $3.8 million on February 7 to buy the 30-hectare Yarramalong property owned by Albert Bertini, a financially-troubled millionaire who left Sydney two years ago.

    ABLE planned to use the property to house 20 participants in a controversial substance abuse treatment program, Narconon, that has been associated with deaths in the US and Europe with some governments forcing the closure of its centres.

    Yarramalong has been an upmarket weekender spot for generations of the rich and powerful. John Laws, John Singleton and the late Neville and Jill Wran have called it a home away from home and local residents were alarmed when word of the drug rehab centre became public.

    Wyong Shire Council rejected the application after it was found to be incompatible with local land zonings and regulations.

    Mayor Doug Eaton said in a statement that council staff had considered the proposal in accordance with the Wyong Local Environmental Plan and determined that it represented unacceptable risks to both life and property, given the flood affected nature of the site.

    Councillor Eaton said that while he recognised the value of providing a range of treatment options for drug and alcohol addictions, this particular development was not in the public interest.

    “I’m pleased with the outcome given the strong community opposition to the proposal”, he said.

    “Having seen the matter considered in accordance with our planning regulations, I think it’s clear their opposition was well-founded. “It simply isn’t an appropriate use for this site”.

    The chairman of the Yarramalong Community Action Group, Ron Lee, said locals were pleased with the outcome the centre but it did not necessarily mean the matter was closed.

    In its determination, the council appeared to leave a door open, noting that ABLE had submitted insufficient information with the application, ‘‘making it difficult to fully assess the social impact, the likely effect on the drinking water catchment, or satisfy how water and sewerage would be treated’’.

    ‘‘We should not be complacent that this is the end of the matter,’’ Mr Lee said.

    ‘‘Incredibly the Church of Scientology purchased the property before the Council was able to make a ruling on their development application and they are therefore not going to go away. It is very difficult to imagine what sort of alternative use the scientology organisation might be able to make of the property and remain within the very tight planning guidelines.’’

    ABLE spokesman Ralph Harris had not replied to requests for an interview at the time of going to press.

    It was the second time in les than two months that ABLE proposals for a rehab centre has been rejected.

    In Victoria on March 11, amid massive local opposition fanned by the police reports, Yarra Ranges Shire councillors voted unanimously 8-0 to reject ABLE's planning application to open a rehab centre in the township of Warburton.


  86. Lawsuits target Scientology rehab center in Nev.

    By Nathan Baca, Investigative Reporter, KLAS-TV May 12, 2014

    LAS VEGAS -- Several federal lawsuits now target an unlicensed Nevada drug and alcohol rehab center first exposed by the I-Team. Patients and the families say the rehab center isn't curing addictions; it's trying to recruit people into Scientology.

    Patients at Narconon have told the I-Team they were exposed to mold, lice and treatments forcing them to try and lift objects with their mind. State lawmakers tried and failed to write a new law allowing inspectors to check out Narconon. Instead, one Las Vegas attorney gathered families nationwide and is taking Narconon to federal court.

    Narconon is the last hope for some families. Its Caliente, Nevada location, 150 miles north of Las Vegas, promises a 76 percent success rate to get addicts off drugs. Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton filed a series of federal lawsuits from multiple families.

    “The fraud claim being that we were promised drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment, but instead the patient received Scientology,” Hamilton said.

    So far, none of the families suing Narconon live in Nevada. They're from Massachusetts, Texas, Florida and Virginia.

    The I-Team first reported in Nov. 2012 that former patients at Narconon's Caliente facility said they underwent ineffective treatments.

    “There were times they would throw an ashtray up there and they would say, ‘try to levitate this with your mind. Control this ashtray,’” Justin VanderGriend told the I-Team in 2012 interview.

    Narconon's own videos show a welcoming, clean and safe rehab center. The videos can’t be verified because the last time the I-Team visited Narconon, they would not allow the I-Team inside the center.

    Narconon recently changed its name adding "Fresh Start" or simply calling itself Rainbow Canyon Retreat. Families claim, in the federal lawsuits, the word Narconon was never mentioned by recruiters. Narconon's advertisements mention nothing about Scientology, only saying that books patients use were written by L. Ron Hubbard. He is Scientology's founder. Even Scientology's own guidebook devotes an entire chapter to its controlling role in Narconon.

    Hamilton tells the I-Team he's collecting a library of Narconon course work given to him by former patients. It shows lessons and techniques not used by licensed therapists. There is no state record of any licensed therapists or medical professionals at Narconon's Nevada facility.

    One of Hamilton's clients went through Narconon's drug detox program.

    "And began to experience tremors while undergoing the sauna program," Hamilton said.

    Other documents obtained by Hamilton show Scientology calls Narconon its "bridge" to moving patients into religious activities.

    "Of importance in that document, at the end, the patient is to be routed to the nearest org if the patient so desires," Hamilton said.

    An org is Scientology religious center, including one in Las Vegas.

    The Las Vegas law firm representing Narconon Fresh Start declined an on camera interview and refused to answer any of the I-Team’s questions. In legal filings, it claims the federal lawsuits should be dismissed. Narconon's attorney's say the complaints against Narconon were not "simple" and "direct" enough.

    Nevada's health department asked state lawmakers to close what they called a loophole in the law. Senate Bill 501 would have allowed state inspectors to check inside Narconon. Currently, the law considers a private facility exempt from inspection. The bill did not pass because lawmakers ran out of time before the session ended.

    Hamilton filed two new federal lawsuits against Narconon Fresh Start Monday. These lawsuits focus on their facilities in Colorado.


  87. Narconon faces federal lawsuit

    By Jeanne LeFlore, Mcalester News Capital May 22, 2014

    McALESTER — A federal lawsuit against Narconon and the Church of Scientology seeks an immediate injunction to prevent the unauthorized use of counseling certifications, trademarks and logos along with compensatory, statutory and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees.

    Narconon’s flagship center Narconon Arrowhead is a non-profit drug and alcohol rehab in Canadian affiliated with the Church of Scientology.

    The facility has been under investigation following the deaths of three Narconon clients all found dead at the facility within a nine-month-span. A fourth died while at a local hospital. The deaths spurred legislation that was signed into law into 2013.

    Since then, several wrongful death lawsuits along with a number of other lawsuits alleging Narconon’s counselors traded drug for sex and other allegations have been filed in Pittsburg County District Court.

    Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the District 18 District Attorneys continue to investigate the four deaths, according to Sheriff Joel Kerns.

    In July 2012 Stacy Murphy, 20, was found dead at the facility, Hillary Holten, 21, was found dead in her bed April 2012, and Gabriel Graves, 32, was found dead in his bed at the facility in October of 201.

    Also under investigation is the 2009 death of Kaysie Dianne Werninck, 28.

    Werninck died at a local hospital while she was in Narconon Arrowhead’s rehab program.

    Meanwhile, the lawsuit filed Wednesday by the National Association of Forensic Counselors, Inc. at the Eastern District Court of Oklahoma in Muskogee names Narconon International, the Church of Scientology International and 80 other Narconon-related defendants.

    The suit states NAFC is seeking an immediate injunction to prevent the unauthorized use of NAFC certifications, trademarks and logos along with compensatory, statutory and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees.

    The suit alleges more than “400 Narconon associated websites contained the purported certifications of staff members that, in reality, have had certifications that have been suspended, revoked or never existed.”

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  88. The lawsuit also alleges that a Narconon facility advertised affiliation with an NAFC board that is no longer in existence.

    “As recently as March 2013 Narconon Arrowhead falsely advertised that the National Board of Addiction Examiners recognized Narconon Arrowhead for their facility location and for their world class staff,” the lawsuit alleges.

    The suit alleges the defendants conspired to “willfully misuse the NAFC logos and trademarks and falsified certifications supposedly obtained through the NAFC or the ACCFC to misrepresent the credentials of their employees and volunteers to promote the Narconon Network.”

    The National Association of Forensic Counselors provides nationally accredited certifications to individuals who have met specific requirements and received specialized training to provide services to people with addictions, mental health issues, criminal justice problems and corrections needs.

    NAFC is the only organization to offer an accredited Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor certification on a national level and has never delegated the authority to provide such certifications to any of the named defendants, according to the lawsuit.

    “The Narconon Network allegedly “willfully misused (and continues to misuse) Plaintiff NAFC’s logos, trademarks and false certifications to further the goals and purposes of the Church of Scientology International. Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that the misuse was calculated to increase the credibility of the Narconon Treatment Centers and the affiliated counselors, and to expand the reach and profitability of the Church of Scientology International to Plaintiffs’ detriment,” according to the lawsuit.

    The suit alleges NAFC has suffered by the “repeated abuse and misuse of the NAFC logos, trademarks and certifications.”

    The lawsuit alleges NAFC suffered “devaluation of the NAFC certifications in the eyes of the public, the state registration boards, the national boards and the national authorities, significant financial loss, and substantial reputational damages.”

    “The misrepresentations allegedly lead the public to believe the defendants are approved by or affiliated with NAFC,” the lawsuit states.

    Meanwhile the plaintiff’s attorney Gary Richardson said his clients are seeking justice in filing the lawsuit.

    A call to Narconon Arrowhead Executive Director Gary Smith was not returned by press-time today.


  89. Narconon: Misleading antidrug program back in public schools

    by Nanette Asimov, SFGate.com May 25, 2014

    Narconon is back in California public schools.

    The Scientology-linked antidrug program visited classrooms freely for years until 2005, when medical experts and the state Department of Education determined it was promoting bogus science. The alarm went up a decade ago after The Chronicle revealed that Narconon's antidrug messages to students were based not on medical evidence, according to the experts, but on the practices of Scientology.

    Narconon officials say the program is secular and that a firewall exists between it and the Church of Scientology. In fact, the connection to the religion was not readily apparent, a public school teacher told The Chronicle.

    "I'm not in the business of miseducation, so if I know something is wrong, I'm not going to keep teaching it," said Heather Rottenborn, who teaches biology and anatomy at Ann Sobrato High in Morgan Hill and was surprised to learn of Narconon's connection to Scientology. Her school has hosted a Narconon lecturer in several classes since at least 2011.

    Narconon is based on concepts developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the late science-fiction writer who created the Church of Scientology and Dianetics in the 1950s. The religion opposes drugs and alcohol, which practitioners believe interfere with achieving a state of mental purity that Scientology calls "Clear."

    The antidrug message and its related notions of how drugs work in the body - including the idea, rejected by medical experts, that drugs reside in body fat for years and can cause people to feel high during times of stress - are part of the Narconon program and drug education materials the group currently makes available online.

    Teacher confusion

    One science teacher from a Bay Area school that has hosted Narconon told The Chronicle that she believed what the lecturers taught her students about drugs residing in body fat.

    "I learned that in my training," the teacher said firmly. "I'm very familiar with that concept."

    She began to have doubts, however, after learning that the state's review had rejected the notion as pseudoscience and that it was an idea from Scientology.

    "I would never have guessed. I need to double-check now," the teacher said, and asked that her name not be used.

    The California Department of Education spent up to $30,000 to review Narconon's claims in 2005 before issuing a strong warning to schools about Narconon.

    "Narconon's drug prevention program does not reflect accurate, widely-accepted medical and scientific evidence," Jack O'Connell, then the state superintendent of public instruction, told schools in a letter posted on the department's website Feb. 24, 2005. Department officials said they stand by those findings today.

    The department lacks the authority to oust programs, but some school districts banned Narconon outright, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, which had its own medical experts review the curriculum.

    Yet Narconon has given free presentations in at least 28 California public schools in other districts since 2007, The Chronicle found.

    Thirteen are in the Bay Area, in Fremont, Los Altos, Morgan Hill, San Jose, San Ramon, Santa Clara and Santa Rosa.

    Narconon officials say the curriculum has been "carefully revised" over the past decade. But they declined to explain how and would not allow a Chronicle reporter to sit in on a lecture. One school that had invited a reporter to sit in on a Narconon presentation canceled it when told of the state's findings.

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  90. Narconon curriculum

    However, The Chronicle examined two sets of Narconon curriculum, copyrighted in 2008 and 2005, that are currently offered to public schools. Both share concepts with Scientology. The "tone scale," for example, is a Scientology doctrine dealing with emotions that is explained on the church's website and featured in student exercises in the Narconon curriculum.

    Narconon officials proudly attest to their presence in the schools.

    "Drug education specialists from Narconon Vista Bay travel from Monterey to South Lake Tahoe, and from Santa Rosa to Sacramento, visiting middle schools and high schools," Clark Carr, president of Narconon International and a Scientologist, wrote in August in promotional materials for an annual golf tournament in Berkeley's Tilden Park to raise funds for Narconon's free school visits.

    "In the last couple of years, the number of youth who heard the anti-drug message have increased from 11,000 to 22,000," Carr claimed in the promotion.

    Narconon International, in Los Angeles County, is the headquarters of the organization, which has centers around the world, including Narconon Vista Bay in Watsonville, that offer drug rehabilitation services. Carr, who spoke extensively with The Chronicle a decade ago, declined new requests for an interview. But he sent a statement saying that Narconon's revised curriculum "is getting terrific response from the students and teachers. ... Drug abuse prevention services are an important part of Narconon's approach to handling drug addiction."

    He added: "Narconon has been responding to increasing demand from schools in Northern California. Narconon provides this program as a public service at no charge, funded entirely by Narconon centers."

    Scientology, created in 1951, won tax-exempt church status from the Internal Revenue Service in 1993. Hubbard died in 1986. Soon afterward, his followers legally grouped his many enterprises into religious and secular divisions.

    The Scientologists created the nonprofit Association for Better Living and Education in 1988 to oversee four secular programs for delivering Hubbard's ideas to the public: The Way to Happiness Foundation to promote his 21 "moral precepts"; Applied Scholastics, an education program; Criminon, a "life improvement" course for prison inmates; and Narconon.

    Narconon International has an income of nearly $16 million, IRS records show. Another 22 Narconon centers, many of them also identified in the records as Narconon International, exist across the country, from Florida to Hawaii.

    A center at 262 Gaffey Road in Watsonville is called Narconon International on the IRS records, but is named Narconon Vista Bay or Narconon Redwood Cliffs on websites. The site collected revenue of more than $12 million in 2011, IRS records show. The documents also show that the job title for Juan Carlos R. Ubillus, who does Narconon school lectures, is "senior director of expansion."

    Negative review

    The Vista Bay website features dozens of appreciative letters from teachers across California thanking Narconon or Ubillus for school lectures. All were written since the state's negative review of Narconon's curriculum in 2005.

    The review was conducted for the state Department of Education by 14 independent experts in substance abuse and health education - including medical doctors and university faculty - under the auspices of the California Healthy Kids Resource Center, a state-funded branch of the Alameda County Office of Education that maintains a lending library of approved health education materials for educators.

    Among the inaccuracies the agency found:

    -- Drugs are stored in fat and later released, causing the person to feel high again and want to use again.

    -- Drugs burn up vitamins and nutrients, resulting in pain and relapse.

    -- Marijuana-induced loss of vitamins and nutrients causes the "munchies."

  91. Researchers also found misleading statements in Narconon's materials, including the idea that drugs are "poison" and that they "ruin creativity and dull senses." And they criticized the use of ex-addicts as presenters because it "may tacitly reinforce student perceptions that drug use really isn't risky."

    Despite the inaccuracies the California review found in Narconon's curriculum, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists seven Narconon treatment centers on its National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs, including one California site, Vista Bay. Inclusion means the programs are licensed in their states and have filled out a federal survey for statistical purposes.

    The state agency that licenses such facilities, the California Department of Health Care Services, said it is investigating four complaints against the Vista Bay facility, but would not release information until the inquiries are concluded.

    Scientology similarities

    Narconon operates on Hubbard's idea that drugs nestle in body fat but leak out and cause people to feel high all over again, even years later.

    "One does not need to run a marathon to have them re-released. It could be as simple as walking to the mailbox or getting in an argument with a family member where stress and increased heart rate and blood pressure occurs," according to one Narconon website. "Once these toxins are re-released the person will get a craving, thought, urge, sometimes can taste [sic] or smell the drug or feel the effects of it and they then go and use the drug or alcohol and relapse occurs."

    Narconon centers rely on saunas, which participants believe sweat out drugs from fat.

    "Our program utilizes vitamin and mineral therapy, nutrition and a dry sauna in a process that removes the residual drugs lodged in the body, greatly decreasing the chance of relapse," according to the Narconon Vista Bay website.

    It's a belief shared by the Church of Scientology.

    "In the secular setting, it's Narconon. In the church, it's the Purification handling," a church spokeswoman told The Chronicle in 2004.

    According to Hubbard's Scientology text "Clear Body, Clear Mind," drugs create negative "mental image pictures" that interfere with the ability to achieve "mental and spiritual gain."

    The church's website explains that "such pictures are actually three-dimensional, containing color, sound and smell, as well as other perceptions."

    Narconon encourages its lecturers to introduce similar concepts to students.

    'Drugs are ... poison'

    "Our take-home message is that drugs are essentially poison," Narconon's Carr told The Chronicle in 2004. "This is how we basically explain it to them. Drugs scramble pictures. When people take drugs, they affect the mental pictures."

    Mental pictures are the subject of Lesson 5 in Narconon's 2008 "Drug Education High School Curriculum," available free on the Web. It doesn't mention Scientology. But the book guides the presenter to tell students to think of "pictures" of good things they've experienced and illustrates the concept as rectangles emanating from a person's head. The book has the presenter explain that drug use eliminates certain pictures, leaving "blank spots in the memory."

    A thicker, 2005 version of the curriculum called "Drug Education Presentation Scripts" currently for sale on the Narconon website includes ideas discredited by medical experts and addiction specialists for the state and for San Francisco Unified School District. The curriculum says drugs cause vitamin deficiency and nestle in fat for long periods.

    The book tells the instructor to point to an illustration of "drugs stored in the fat" and tell students about what happened five years after he last smoked marijuana, drank alcohol and took cocaine.

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  92. In the story the instructor is in a Narconon sauna to "flush the old drugs out" and tells students: "Whoa, I start feeling kind of weird ... the next thing I know, there's purple frogs and 'Mickey Mouses' doing somersaults through the middle of the sauna."

    The script has the instructor tell students that after a month of daily saunas, drugs were "pouring out of my body." And once the saunas were done, "I did an IQ test and my score shot up 22 points."

    The 2008 version for high school students simply tells students that drugs "stuck in the body" affect health "negatively."

    Despite the state's warning in 2005, dozens of California public schools have welcomed Narconon into their classrooms.

    "Students now have a broad understanding of drug addiction, its consequences, and the path they would need to take if they had to go to rehabilitation," one teacher from Irvington High in Fremont wrote in a thank-you letter to Narconon on May 2, 2012.

    The teacher declined to talk about Narconon.

    At Santa Rosa High, a teacher wrote Narconon in 2011 that the lecture to her Life Skills class was "poignant and powerful ... awe inspiring."

    The school did not return calls.

    Appreciated free lecture

    The health department chair at Mount Pleasant High in San Jose told Narconon in 2009 that her health budget was only $150, so she appreciated the free "message of what drugs can do to your body, brain & lives."

    But other educators, like Rottenborn, were appalled to learn from The Chronicle that they had been relying on a program the state had rejected.

    One school, Santa Clara High, abruptly canceled a Narconon lecture booked for Feb. 27 after Principal Greg Shelby learned of the state's review.

    "Santa Clara Unified teachers teach the science of drug effects on the human body using district and state aligned, research-based science standards," spokeswoman Jennifer Dericco said, explaining the cancellation.

    Steve Heilig of the San Francisco Medical Society, one of five experts who evaluated Narconon for the San Francisco Unified School District in 2004, is now urging school districts to check with the state when searching for drug education programs.

    "There has been no valid, peer-reviewed publications or other scientific advances supporting Narconon's theories since our initial evaluation," Heilig said. "One imperative of drug education is that we not deceive students, as once they discover that you are not telling them factual information, they are likely to disbelieve everything you say."

    Yet in his statement, Carr said the Narconon curriculum "has been carefully revised and empirically tested and validated through a peer-reviewed study."

    He did not identify the study or respond to questions from The Chronicle about how the curriculum had changed. But an evaluation endorsing Narconon's methods appeared in the online journal "Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy" in March 2008.

    Critics say that study is a self-funded paper co-authored by a former Narconon official, Marie Cecchini. The paper contains a disclosure that Cecchini spent two years running a Narconon center.

    'A flawed study'

    "Overall, my impression is that this is a flawed study with modest results that at best say that the Narconon program seems to be better than nothing - but maybe only a little better. And even that isn't certain," said David Touretzky, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a leading critic of Scientology.

    Among the problems cited is that the study compares a largely female group of students (those receiving Narconon) with a group of largely male students (non-Narconon).

    "Since young males have greater risk-taking behavior, that alone invalidates the study in my opinion," Touretzky said. "This discrepancy is not even acknowledged in the article, much less explained."

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  93. Tom Herman, administrator of the Coordinated School Health and Safety Office at the California Department of Education, said state officials stand by their 2005 findings about Narconon.

    Online resources

    -- California Department of Education's cover letter and review of Narconon:http://bit.ly/N92TfN
    -- California Healthy Kids Resource Center, a free lending library of state-approved health education materials: http://bit.ly/1pA4w7A
    -- State-authorized programs: http://bit.ly/1gomS58 and http://bit.ly/1r0LLFY
    -- Previous Chronicle stories about Narconon: http://www.sfchronicle.com/ narconon/
    -- Read a statement from Clark Carr, president of Narconon International, athttp://bit.ly/Sf9hoK

    Narconon in public schools

    At least 28 California public schools have hosted Narconon lectures since 2007.

    Alameda County
    Fremont Unified School District:
    -- Mission San Jose High
    -- Irvington High

    Contra Costa County
    San Ramon Valley Unified:
    -- California High
    El Dorado County
    Lake Tahoe Unified:
    -- South Tahoe High
    Monterey County
    Gonzales Unified School District:
    -- Gonzales High
    North Monterey County Unified School District:
    -- North Monterey County High
    Salinas Union High School District:
    -- Alisal High
    -- El Sausal Middle School

    -- Harden Middle School

    -- La Paz Middle School

    -- North Salinas High

    -- Salinas High

    -- Washington Middle School

    Soledad Unified School District:
    -- Soledad Community Education Center
    Sacramento County
    Galt Joint Union High School District:
    -- Galt High
    San Benito County
    Aromas/San Juan Unified School District:
    -- Anzar High
    Santa Clara County
    Campbell Union School District:
    -- Monroe Middle School
    East Side Union High School District:
    -- Andrew P. Hill High
    -- Escuela Popular Charter High

    -- Mount Pleasant High

    Morgan Hill Unified School District:
    -- Ann Sobrato High
    Santa Clara Unified:
    -- Santa Clara High
    San Jose Unified:
    -- Gunderson Plus Continuation High
    -- Willow Glen High

    Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District:
    -- Los Altos High
    Santa Cruz County
    Santa Cruz City High School District:
    -- Santa Cruz High
    -- Harbor High

    -- Sonoma County

    Santa Rosa High School District:
    -- Santa Rosa High

    Nanette Asimov is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:nasimov@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @NanetteAsimov


  94. Narconon Lawsuits - A Financial and PTSD Nightmare

    by David Love, Wire Service July 6, 2014

    A Registered letter received earlier today from a Quebec legal entity, claims, according to a computerized court records search, that judgements against Narconon Trois-Rivieres have been rendered against this company for close to $700,000.00.

    Earlier this year, a Quebec Human Rights Commission lawyer stated that Narconon Trois-Rivieres was approximately $500,000.00 in debt for unpaid taxes and for Labour Board judgements concerning unpaid wages following the Quebec government forcing the unsafe center to close. After a closer examination, court records indicate a much higher debt load.

    Once a thriving, 100 bed Scientology drug rehab center in Quebec, Canada, with close to half a million dollars in reserves, Narconon Trois-Rivieres is now facing a Scientology disgrace - close to bankruptcy. Narconon lawyers indicated to the 3 Narconon victims who won a stunning, and unprecedented victory from the Quebec's Human Rights Commission, that the entity would file for bankruptcy should the cases proceed to a Quebec Court.

    Narconon Trois-Rivieres had until early April 2014 to pay the victims for incomprehensible human rights abuses and threatened to file bankruptcy if all 3 victims did not sign a non-disclosure agreement - often called "gag orders" have been the subject of well-deserved scrutiny.

    Some plaintiffs' lawyers have also spoken out strongly against such clauses, especially when it relates to information being kept secret or alleged to have been involved in serious misconduct like human rights abuses, fraud, slave labour, and failing to prevent it and/or covering it up.

    In the 3 cases before the Quebec Human Rights Commission, the lawyers representing the victims encouraged and pressured (to a lessor or greater degree) that the victims sign the "gag order" - thus avoiding a lengthy court hearing before the Commission Tribunal. It was suggested by Commission lawyers, that these proceedings could take 2-3 years, and that the plaintiff would probably declare bankruptcy to avoid evidence being heard in Court.

    David Miscavige's Scientology drug rehab centers, Narconon, are now riddled with countless lawsuits in the United States and Canada - at least 20 or more at last count, and climbing as more victims reach out for help. Plaintiff's lawyers and media have alleged horrific human rights abuses, fraud, misrepresentation, sexual abuse, civil conspiracy, and fraudulently misrepresenting Narconon's success rate. Moreover, addicts and family members were lured to Narconon by promises of professional medical care and doctors waiting to treat them when this was not the case whatsoever.

    Numerous Narconon victims were traumatized by pseudoscientific and quackery practices. Scientology beliefs were forced upon the vulnerable patients without their knowledge - further confusing and degrading the addicts. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not uncommon for patients after these experiences.

    PTSD causes intrusive symptoms such as re-experiencing the traumatic event. Many people have vivid nightmares, flashbacks, or thoughts of the event that seem to come from nowhere. They often avoid things that remind them of the event. Many people feel a lot of guilt or shame around PTSD because they're often told that they should just get over difficult experiences.

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  95. Some attempt suicide while at Narconon and shortly thereafter. Some are now dead after leaving, and at least 14 deaths occurred while patients were inside Narconon.

    For treating PTSD, 'The Canadian Mental Health Association' suggests a type of counselling called cognitive-behavioural therapy and exposure therapy, which can help you talk about your experience and reduce avoidance. It may be included in CBT or used on its own.

    Talking about their traumatic experiences while at Narconon is a taboo sin for Scientology-Narconon, thus demands for non-disclosure, "gag orders" - preventing the victim from ever telling someone about what happened to them while in a Cult.

    According to one lawyer, settling defendants effectively are "buying" plaintiffs' silence through confidentiality clauses in the formal release documents they require plaintiffs to sign as part of an out-of-court and private settlement.

    For survivors of human rights abuses, where secrecy and shame are part of their injury, having to maintain silence in return for payment can have very negative consequences. It is often the case that little consideration is given to the terms of these "gag orders" and that they are ambiguous or hard to interpret and follow - especially when the cult of Scientology is directing the legal affairs.

    The Law Society of Upper Canada that regulates lawyers practicing in Ontario offers some general words of advice regarding settlements:

    "Where there are settlement negotiations, one should be careful not to further isolate claimants or to leave claimants without supports, or deny appropriate healing opportunities as a result of a settlement, if this can be avoided. As much as possible, claimants should also not be left with the sense that what happened to them is shameful and secret and/or that they are influenced into remaining silent, as this may be experienced as degrading and cause further distress. Claimants' freedom of expression and choice as to whether to speak about their abuse and/or the harms flowing from the abuse should be respected to the fullest extent possible."

    Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a form of PTSD, but it occurs when someone is continually exposed to trauma, especially entrapment or captivity - such as in a cult. A history of subjection to totalitarian control over a prolonged period - having an almost complete control over members - not allowed to question since that is seen as an act of rebellion.

    The control that Scientology-Narconon has over their 'subjects' can even continue long after a person has left the cult. Most cults are well known to have control over a person's thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

    More importantly, Scientology members and Narconon victims who escape may face years of harassment and intimidation - especially when they speak out about the abuses and trauma they experienced.

    In Scientology Founder, L. Ron Hubbard's own words, he states:

    "People attack Scientology, I never forget it, always even the score. People attack auditors, or staff, or organisations, or me. I never forget until the slate is clear." - L. Ron Hubbard, MANUAL OF JUSTICE, 1959


  96. State officials called to testify before grand jury on Narconon Arrowhead

    By ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Enterprise Editor, Tulsa World August 17, 2014

    State officials and a former Narconon Arrowhead executive have been called to testify before a multicounty grand jury that is investigating the drug rehabilitation facility, where three patients have died since 2011, the Tulsa World has learned.

    Meanwhile, a national association that certifies drug addiction counselors has sued Narconon Arrowhead, the Church of Scientology and 80 related defendants in federal court. The lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma’s Eastern U.S. District Court in Muskogee, alleges that Narconon employees falsely claimed to be accredited by the National Association of Forensic Counselors “in order to bait vulnerable victims into the Scientology religion.”

    Tulsa attorney David Keesling, who represents the National Association of Forensic Counselors, said the lawsuit is the first to “connect the dots” linking the Church of Scientology, its leader, David Miscavige, and a host of related entities to Narconon’s programs.

    Narconon claims that it operates 100 drug rehabilitation and treatment centers in 30 countries, and that its Oklahoma facility is the largest.

    In addition to the federal suit, 10 lawsuits have been filed in Pittsburg County District Court alleging wrongful deaths of Narconon patients, negligence, fraud and other claims against the drug rehabilitation facility.

    Narconon Arrowhead is located on the shores of Lake Eufaula near Canadian, northeast of McAlester. The facility can house up to 200 patients, known in the program as students.

    Narconon Arrowhead is the flagship branch of an international drug-rehabilitation organization rooted in the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The program’s unorthodox treatment includes five-hour daily sauna sessions and large doses of niacin — vitamin B3. Additionally, patients go through training based on Hubbard’s teachings.

    A multiagency investigation of Narconon Arrowhead began after Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, died from a drug overdose at the facility in July 2012. Her death followed the deaths of patients Gabriel Graves in 2011 and Hillary Holten in 2012.

    Attorney David Riggs, representing Narconon Arrowhead, said he is aware of the grand jury investigation and that “we provided the information that they wanted.”

    Riggs said Narconon was never told the outcome of the law enforcement investigation into patient deaths.

    He said Narconon could not comment on the lawsuit's claims and patient deaths due to privacy laws.

    “It’s really hard to protect people from themselves. … I would just like people to understand there is another side to this story,” he said.

    Eric Tenorio, a supervisor at Narconon Arrowhead and other locations for 12 years, said the centers operate as a recruiting tool for the Church of Scientology. He said he eventually left his job and began filing complaints about Narconon, including that employees falsely claimed to be certified drug counselors.

    “Those deaths were, in my opinion, completely avoidable if they just would have paid attention and did what they were supposed to do,” Tenorio said.

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  97. Like most people who work in Narconon facilities Tenorio was a patient first.

    Tenorio, who now lives in New York, said he testified before the multicounty grand jury in Oklahoma City about five weeks ago regarding Narconon’s practices. The investigation involves allegations that include insurance fraud, which Tenorio said he reported to the state Attorney General’s Office and other agencies.

    “None of the stuff that Narconon is doing is considered medical treatment. Basically what you are doing is trying to get people to become Scientologists,” he said.

    “Part of Narconon’s license with the state of Oklahoma states that the clients are supposed to be directed to the proper level of care after detox by a licensed counselor. Not one person is directed to anything except Narconon.”
    The Oklahoma Insurance Department confirmed to the World that officials there had received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury investigating Narconon. Insurance Department Deputy Commissioner Paul Wilkening said he is among the officials who have been called to testify.

    Deputy Commissioner Mike Rhodes said: “This is an active investigation, and we can’t talk to you about it at this time.”

    Following a raid on its Georgia office last year, Narconon agreed to surrender its license there to avoid criminal prosecution. State investigators uncovered nearly $3 million in alleged insurance fraud by Narconon of Georgia, according to news reports.

    Following the deaths at Arrowhead, state lawmakers passed legislation touted as giving the state more authority to regulate the facility. Tenorio and other critics say the state has failed to act against Narconon despite repeated, documented complaints.

    In July, the World asked the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to provide any public records related to Narconon Arrowhead, including inspection and investigative reports, generated during the past year.

    The department responded last week, saying there were no public records it is allowed by law to release.

    In an email, Jeff Dismukes, a department spokesman, said: “There is not a continuing active investigation. All related information for previous investigative activity has been provided to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office for review and guidance.”

    Dismukes said that during the past year, a facility that Narconon Arrowhead operated in McAlester was closed after the state rejected its application to provide medical detoxification services. Dismukes said that request was rejected “due to outstanding deficiencies.”

    “The organization is currently only certified to deliver nonmedical detoxification services at their location in Canadian,” he stated.

    Narconon Arrowhead then sought certification as a residential substance abuse treatment center but withdrew its application before Department of Mental Health site visits, Dismukes said.

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  98. The facility has now applied for certification as a substance abuse halfway house, defined by state law as one that provides “low intensity substance abuse treatment in a supportive living environment to facilitate the individual’s reintegration into the community.”

    “This application is currently being processed to determine whether they meet all applicable standards,” Dismukes said.

    Riggs said Narconon Arrowhead is “changing their mission” to comply with the new state law. He said he believes criticism of Narconon and the Church of Scientology is coming from shadowy groups such as “Anonymous.”

    “I know how controversial Scientology is and how people say they’re down there proselytizing,” he said.

    Riggs said that while “undisputably the theories are based on the writings of L. Ron Hubbard,” those in the Narconon program are free to attend any church they wish.

    “There are always going to be a lot of critics, especially among the medical community,” he said.

    The federal lawsuit claims that Narconon and its employees use hundreds of websites nationwide to recruit people with drug and substance abuse problems into its programs. The suit names 12 people in Oklahoma, including Narconon Arrowhead’s executive director, Gary Smith.

    The lawsuit alleging trademark infringement and civil conspiracy seeks relief including an injunction ordering the defendants to stop claiming NAFC accreditation and using its logos.

    The defendants “operate over 400 websites containing purported certifications of staff members that, in reality, have been suspended, revoked, or never existed or otherwise have improperly used the NAFC credentials,” the lawsuit states.

    “Ultimately, the promotion of the Narconon Network is done to further the goals and purposes of the Church of Scientology to ‘clear’ the world and for a planetary dissemination of Scientology ideals,” it states.

    A Scientology flier, filed as an exhibit in the lawsuit, describes “clear” as “a state achieved through auditing or an individual who has achieved this state. A clear is a being who no longer has his own reactive mind.”

    Another exhibit contains a memo from a Scientology affiliate to the Narconon Network. The memo describes the “only reason” for Narconon’s existence is “to sell LRH’s (L. Ron Hubbard’s) tech to the society and get it used as the tech to handle criminality, drug rehabilitation and education. Anyone not actively supporting or doing this will receive no mercy.”



    Read the subpoena sent to Eric Tenorio, a former Narconon executive director, to testify before an Oklahoma multicounty grand jury investigation Narconon Arrowhead.

    Read the federal lawsuit against Narconon and 81 other defendants by the National Association of Forensic Counselors.

    Read the affidavit filed in a Texas lawsuit against the Church of Scientology by a former top executive, David Rathbun.

  99. Lawsuits allege state suppressed Narconon report, fired investigators

    By ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Enterprise Editor| Tulsa World August 20, 2014

    The state Department of Mental Health “buried” an inspector general’s report recommending that Narconon Arrowhead be shut down after three patients died there, two lawsuits against the agency claim.

    The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services fired its inspector general, Kim Poff, and an investigator, Michael DeLong, last year after they objected to the agency’s withholding of the Narconon report, the lawsuits state.

    Agency leaders, including Commissioner Terri White, “buried the report, recommendations and findings of Ms. Poff and Mr. DeLong because the Department did not want to get involved with litigation involving the Church of Scientology,” the lawsuit alleges.

    It notes that Narconon Arrowhead has “significant financial backing” from the Church of Scientology.

    Poff sued the agency for wrongful termination, civil conspiracy and other claims in Oklahoma County District Court on Aug. 4. DeLong filed a similar suit on July 30.

    Both lawsuits name White, the department’s chief executive officer; Durand Crosby, chief operating officer; Cratus Dewayne Moore, general counsel; and Ellen Buettner, director of human resources for the agency. They also name the state and the board of directors for the Department of Mental Health.

    The department did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment on the lawsuits’ allegations.

    Rachel Bussett, an attorney representing Poff and DeLong, said their investigative report recommending that Narconon be closed was submitted to the Department of Mental Health in the fall of 2012. She said the two “were told to make changes (in the report) by top leadership” but refused to do so.

    “They wouldn’t fall in line and do what they were told. … They didn’t toe the company line. They were retaliated against for speaking out about wrongdoing.”

    Bussett said Poff has since been hired by another state agency, the Department of Human Services, where she formerly worked.

    “I don’t believe DHS would have hired her back if they thought there was merit” to her firing by the Department of Mental Health, Bussett said.

    Narconon Arrowhead is located on the shores of Lake Eufaula near Canadian, northeast of McAlester. The facility can house up to 200 patients, known in the program as students.

    Narconon Arrowhead is the flagship branch of an international drug-rehabilitation organization rooted in the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The program’s unorthodox treatment includes five-hour daily sauna sessions and large doses of niacin — vitamin B3. Additionally, patients go through training based on Hubbard’s teachings.

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  100. A multiagency investigation of Narconon Arrowhead began after Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, died from a drug overdose at the facility in July 2012. Her death followed the deaths of patients Gabriel Graves in 2011 and Hillary Holten in 2012.

    “Ms. Poff and her investigators determined that Narconon violated numerous state laws and recommended that the facility be shut down by ODMHSAS,” Poff’s lawsuit states. “Despite this recommendation and the finalization of the reports, leadership at ODMHSAS … had Ms. Poff repeatedly advise the board of directors for ODMHSAS that the investigation was still pending.

    “Ms. Poff believed that by not releasing the report, the ODMHSAS failed to protect the interest of Oklahomans at the facilities in the past, present and future. We believe this position played significantly into the decision of the department to terminate her employment along with the employment of one of her investigators,” the lawsuit states.

    The Tulsa World has requested a copy of Poff’s final report on Narconon Arrowhead.

    A spokesman for the Department of Mental Health has said the agency turned over its findings related to the investigation to state Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office.

    Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for Pruitt, said in an email that “the AG’s office doesn’t typically confirm investigations.”

    The World reported Sunday that a multicounty grand jury is investigating the facility and has called state officials and at least one former Narconon Arrowhead executive, Eric Tenorio, to testify. The investigation reportedly revolves around insurance fraud.

    Following a raid on its Georgia office last year, Narconon agreed to surrender its license there to avoid criminal prosecution. State investigators uncovered nearly $3 million in alleged insurance fraud by Narconon of Georgia, according to news reports.

    In Oklahoma, 10 lawsuits have been filed in Pittsburg County District Court alleging wrongful deaths of Narconon patients, negligence, fraud and other claims against the drug rehabilitation facility. Claims include that staff members were trading drugs for sex with patients and that the facility failed to provide medical treatment and oversight, leading to patient deaths.

    Following the deaths at Arrowhead, state lawmakers passed legislation touted as giving the state more authority to regulate the facility.

    After the law changed, Narconon Arrowhead sought certification as a residential substance abuse treatment center but withdrew its application before Department of Mental Health site visits. The facility has now applied for certification as a substance abuse halfway house, defined by state law as one that provides “low intensity substance abuse treatment in a supportive living environment to facilitate the individual’s reintegration into the community.”


  101. State Senator Speaks Out After Latest Narconon Lawsuit

    By Dana Hertneky, News 9 Oklahoma August 20, 2014

    OKLAHOMA CITY - A state Senator is speaking out after two former investigators with the State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse say the agency hid the results of the high profile investigation into Narconon Arrowhead.

    The agency launched the investigation in July 2012 after three people died at the Scientology based drug treatment facility. More than a year later, the agency claimed it was still investigating. But two lawsuits filed by Kim Poff, the former Inspector general for the agency, and Michael DeLong, the other investigator in the case, say the report was finalized in the fall of 2012.

    The lawsuit says investigators on the case found the facility broke numerous state laws and they wanted to shut it down. But leadership at ODMHSAS "attempted to hide the findings" because they believe "the Department did not want to get involved with litigation involving the Church of Scientology."

    “That would be extremely concerning and disappointing in light of the legislation we passed giving them the authority to do something,” said Sen. Tom Ivester, (D) - Sayre.

    Ivester was behind a new law that took effect in 2013 giving the Department of Mental Health greater oversight into the facility.

    “They would be able to go in for inspections unannounced, announced,” he explained. “And if the allegations are true the Department of Mental Health hasn't done it, they just haven't done it. We gave them the authority and they haven't done it.”

    The Department of Mental Health has turned the results of the investigation over to the Oklahoma Attorney General and a spokesperson says the Attorney General's Office provided guidance throughout the process.

    Public Information Director Jeffrey Dismukes says state statute prohibits them from publicly sharing investigative records. But family members of those who died in the facility are asking a judge to release the report. Ivester agrees it should be made public.

    “Let's look at it and talk about it and see what the Department of Mental Health's Actions were, why they didn't act upon it,” he said. “We know there was something wrong because we've got three deaths. Who is responsible? Who knew what and when did they know it? That's what we need to know.”

    A judge is expected to make a decision late next month on releasing the results of the report.

    In regards to the lawsuits Dismukes said they were unable to speak to any specifics regarding pending litigation, but did release this statement:

    “These lawsuits are completely without merit, and the department plans to vigorously fight these frivolous claims. The plaintiff's attorneys are making claims that they know we can't respond to in the press due to confidentiality requirements and limits placed upon the department in accordance with state statute; however, the truth will come-out in court. We look forward to presenting all the facts before a judge and jury, and showing that the actions of the department were appropriate and just. It will be obvious that the two plaintiffs were terminated for cause.”


  102. Judge orders state to turn over investigative report on Narconon

    A judge says the state must turn it over to those suing the center

    By ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Enterprise Editor Tulsa World September 24, 2014

    McALESTER — Finding that a “compelling” interest exists, a Pittsburg County judge ordered the state to turn over an investigative report which allegedly recommends a shutdown of the Narconon drug rehabilitation center following three patient deaths.

    “The vast majority of records I reviewed are relevant, and there is a compelling private and, to a certain degree, public interest” in their release, Associate District Judge James Bland said Tuesday during a hearing in his courtroom.

    However Bland’s order requires that the report be provided only to attorneys for plaintiffs who are suing Narconon and to the rehab center, not to the public. The state Mental Health Department has objected to public release of the report, pointing to a state law that requires a court order for release of its investigative reports.

    That law appears to allow judges to order public release of the agency’s investigative reports if they find that release “is necessary for the protection of a legitimate public or private interest.”

    A multiagency investigation of Narconon Arrowhead began after Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso died from a drug overdose at the facility in July 2012. Her death followed the deaths of patients Gabriel Graves of Claremore in 2011 and Hillary Holten of Carrollton, Texas, in 2012.

    Shirley Gilliam, Graves’ mother, said she was pleased with Bland’s ruling. She said she hopes the report can eventually be released to the public, after the names of unrelated patients are redacted to protect their privacy.

    “People have a right to know what is going on at that place,” said Gilliam, who attended the hearing Tuesday and sat with Robert Murphy, Stacy Murphy’s father.

    Narconon Arrowhead is located on the shores of Lake Eufaula near Canadian, northeast of McAlester. The facility can house up to 200 patients, known in the program as students.

    Gilliam, wiping away tears, said she intends to continue fighting to uncover the truth about problems at Narconon.
    “I’m doing this for my son. It’s all I can do for him now,” she said.

    Robert Murphy said Bland’s order that the report be made available as evidence in the lawsuits “will work toward protecting the public, as the Department of Mental Health should be doing.”

    Attorney Gary Richardson represents relatives of the three patients who died and other plaintiffs in lawsuits against Narconon Arrowhead. He sought records from the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services related to an investigation by a former inspector general for the agency, Kim Poff, and an investigator, Michael DeLong.

    Poff and DeLong have sued the department in Oklahoma County District Court, alleging that its leaders, including Commissioner Terri White, withheld their final report recommending that Narconon Arrowhead be shut down after the patient deaths.

    Their lawsuit claims that the agency “buried the report, recommendations and findings of Ms. Poff and Mr. DeLong because the Department did not want to get involved with litigation involving the Church of Scientology.”

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  103. It notes that Narconon Arrowhead has “significant financial backing” from the Church of Scientology.

    The facility is the flagship branch of an international drug-rehabilitation organization rooted in the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The program’s unorthodox treatment includes five-hour daily sauna sessions and large doses of niacin — vitamin B3. Additionally, patients go through training based on Hubbard’s teachings.

    Narconon claims that it operates 100 drug rehabilitation and treatment centers in 30 countries and that its Oklahoma facility is the largest.

    Michael St. Amand, a board member of Narconon of Oklahoma, has said the dispute over the report involves privacy concerns.

    “Narconon’s interest is and has been to protect the privacy rights of its students and other nonparties,” he said. “The judge made it clear that he shared this concern when he ordered their names deleted and severely restricted the dissemination of whatever records the Department of Mental Health ultimately produces to the lawyers involved in the case.”

    At least 11 lawsuits have been filed in Pittsburg County alleging wrongful deaths of Narconon patients, negligence, fraud and other claims against the rehab facility. In court filings, Narconon has denied the allegations.

    Before Tuesday’s hearing, Narconon’s attorneys argued that Bland should close the courtroom to the public. Bland denied that motion, saying the hearing would not involve discussion of patients or other private issues.

    Attorneys also sparred over whether Richardson can take Poff’s deposition.

    “It’s clear that she (Poff) has some agenda,” said an attorney for Narconon. “There’s no telling what she’s going to answer, and you can’t unring a bell.”

    “Well, you can contain that ring,” Bland responded. “I’m not going to rule that she can’t be deposed.”

    Narconon’s attorney, James Secrest, asked for a 10-day delay before the Department of Mental Health surrenders the report, in case the defendants want to appeal. The lawsuits name a variety of entities related to Narconon, as well as Gerald Wootan, a physician who is alleged to have failed to provide oversight at the center.

    Claims in the civil suits include that staff members were trading drugs for sex with patients and that the facility failed to provide medical treatment, leading to patient deaths.

    The Mental Health Department refused to provide a copy of the Narconon Arrowhead investigative report following a request by the Tulsa World. A spokesman has said the agency turned over its findings related to the Narconon investigation to state Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office.

    Pruitt’s office has taken no action related to the patient deaths or other alleged problems at Narconon. A Pruitt spokesman refused to say whether the Attorney General’s Office is investigating.

    The state Insurance Department has confirmed that one of its officials testified before a state grand jury investigating allegations of insurance fraud at Narconon.

    Following the deaths at Arrowhead, state lawmakers passed legislation touted as giving the state more authority to regulate the facility. After the law changed, Narconon Arrowhead sought certification as a residential substance abuse treatment center but withdrew its application before Department of Mental Health site visits.

    The facility has now applied for certification as a substance abuse halfway house., defined by state law as one that provides “low intensity substance abuse treatment in a supportive living environment to facilitate the individual’s reintegration into the community.”


  104. Lawsuit claims Albion rehab center is a Scientology front, latest in long list of lawsuits since 2005

    By Will Forgrave | wforgrav@mlive.com January 15, 2015

    ALBION, MI – A former rehabilitation patient at Narconon Freedom Center in Albion has sued the company, claiming the center uses its program to introduce Scientology to unwitting patients seeking drug rehabilitation.

    In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, Jan. 14, former patient and Ohio resident Lauren Prevec claims the center charged $25,000 in upfront costs before skipping a medical assessment, taking her completely off her anti-depressant medication and attempting to indoctrinate her to Scientology over the course of two months.

    She is requesting $75,000 in damages.

    Officials at Narconon Freedom Center declined to comment on the lawsuit when called and approached in person Thursday, Jan. 15.

    Among other allegations, Prevec claims in her lawsuit that Narconon Freedom Center officials:

    Engaged in "romantic relationships" with patients.

    Supplied patients with the same eight course books based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology religion.

    Had patients perform what they called a "new life detoxification program," which the suit alleges is strikingly similar to a Scientology ritual known as the "purification rundown."

    Allowed drugs to regularly be brought into the facility.

    "Narconon Freedom Center is using the program to introduce Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard's 'technology' to unwitting patients seeking drug rehabilitation," the lawsuit reads. "This is exactly as the Church of Scientology directed as part of its 'Social Coordination Strategy.'"

    Prevec was suspended from the center July 3, 2012, because she tested positive for marijuana, the report reads.

    Lansing-based Attorney Jeffrey Ray is representing the plaintiffs in the case, including Prevec's parents Frank and Jannette. His paralegal Catherine Villanueva said this isn't the first case the law office has brought against Narconon.

    "The first case came across my desk about two-and-a-half years ago, and I didn't think anything of it initially," Villanueva said. "It claimed some strange things about Narconon ... so I ended up searching the ties between Narconon and Scientology and it just opened up."

    In May 2012, former Narconon patient Richard Teague brought a lawsuit against the center in Calhoun County Circuit Court, after he claimed the center didn't assist him in his rehabilitation from benzodiazepine.

    On January 15, 2011, while at the Narconon Freedom Center in Albion, Teague, while exhibiting symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal, set himself on fire with the use of a cigarette lighter and a cologne bottle. With flames engulfing him, he ran outside and extinguished the fire by plunging into the snow.

    "On Jan. 15, 2011, Richard Teague was not supervised, monitored or cared-for properly by Narconon staff," the lawsuit reads. "The plaintiff was in delusional, paranoid state when he was severely and permanently burned."

    The Teague case was dismissed May 12, 2014, Calhoun County Circuit Court officials said.

    There have been 118 lawsuits brought against Narconon centers across the country since 1992, electronic court records indicate. Court records show there are have been 33 lawsuits brought in Calhoun County courts since 2005 against the Albion center and A Forever Recovery Center in Battle Creek, a Narconon affiliate.


  105. Lawsuit Denham Springs drug rehab clinic a recruiting tool for Scientology

    JOE GYAN JR.| The Advocate January 25, 2015

    Jeannette McHenry took out a bank loan and borrowed money from family to help come up with the $27,000 to send her son to Narconon Louisiana New Life Retreat, a residential drug rehabilitation program in Denham Springs.

    What her son got instead of substance abuse counseling, McHenry claims in a lawsuit filed in Baton Rouge federal court, is heavy indoctrination into the Church of Scientology.

    McHenry, of Washington state, alleges in the suit that the Narconon program is merely a Scientology recruiting tool.

    Narconon “used a ‘bait and switch’ scheme whereby (it) promised (McHenry) extensive substance abuse counseling for her son and then delivered only Scientology teaching and dangerous Scientology rituals,” McHenry alleges in the suit.

    One of the allegedly dangerous rituals, McHenry contends, is a sauna program that a New Life Retreat official told her had been scientifically shown to reduce or eliminate an addict’s drug cravings by flushing out residual drug toxins stored in the addict’s fatty tissues.

    “No such scientific evidence exists,” the suit maintains. “NLR’s claims about the benefits of its sauna program ... are false and do not withstand scientific scrutiny.”

    McHenry’s son spent up to five hours a day in the sauna at temperatures between 160 degrees and 180 degrees, the suit states, and no medical personnel oversaw him while he was undergoing the sauna program last year.

    Material on Narconon International’s website states that the detoxification program, which includes the sauna program, is carefully supervised. The online material says tens of thousands of people have successfully completed the full drug rehabilitation program.

    The McHenry suit’s defendants include Narconon Louisiana New Life Retreat and the nonprofit Narconon International.

    Narconon International, which is based in Los Angeles, and Narconon Louisiana New Life Retreat did not return messages seeking comment on McHenry’s allegations.

    Plaquemine lawyer Patrick Pendley, one of McHenry’s attorneys, said her suit is one of many that have been filed around the country against Narconon entities.

    “Narconon preys upon people experiencing Ms. McHenry’s desperation to do something, anything to pull a loved one out of destructive addictive behavior,” Pendley said Friday. “We are trying to shine the public spotlight on these fraudulent programs that do more harm than good to the patient.”

    The suit, filed Monday, seeks damages and a court order prohibiting the defendants “from further engaging in deceptive trade practices.” Those practices, McHenry alleges, are “immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous, and substantially injurious to consumers.”

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  106. Narconon is not part of the Church of Scientology, but the research of the late Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard does form the basis of the Narconon program, according to Narconon International’s website. In 1976, Hubbard gave Narconon the right to use his copyrighted works for drug rehabilitation purposes.

    Messages left at the Church of Scientology International in Los Angeles also were not returned.

    The Narconon program is secular, teaches no dogma and does not require a person to convert to a faith, the online material states.

    The drug rehabilitation program consists of a drug-free withdrawal, detoxification and a series of life-skills courses to help recovering addicts overcome their addiction and learn how to solve their problems without drugs. It generally takes three to five months to complete the program.

    The Narconon network consists of more than 120 rehabilitation and drug prevention centers around the world, including the Denham Springs facility.

    McHenry, who claims no one at NLR ever spoke to her son about the specifics of his life or substance abuse issues, says each patient undergoing the Narconon program receives the same eight course books based on Hubbard’s work.

    In place of “actual addiction treatment,” her suit alleges, NLR had her son study and practice Scientology.

    “NLR is using the Narconon program to introduce Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard’s ‘technology’ to unwitting patients seeking drug rehabilitation,” the suit charges.

    NLR had her son perform drills, known as “training routines,” which come straight from Scientology scripture and have no apparent connection to substance abuse treatment, McHenry contends.

    In one of those drills, she alleges, NLR had her son sit with another patient and repeatedly ask the other patient, “Do fish swim?” for hours on end.

    The Narconon New Life Retreat website says New Life Retreat utilizes a unique program designed to handle the underlying causes of addiction. The program uses licensed and certified medical and clinical personnel to deliver “one of the most successful programs in the country,” the site states.

    “The program begins with a drug-free withdrawal where our trained staff support this early phase of recovery with nutritional support and specialized hands-on techniques which alleviate the majority of withdrawal symptoms. Participants are supervised 24 hours a day until they have stabilized and are able to continue with the remainder of the program. The licensed medical director and nursing staff are always on call, and safety is a top priority.”

    Hubbard, a science fiction writer, founded Scientology in the 1950s. It teaches followers they are immortal spiritual beings, or thetans, who live on after death. The church says there is a supreme being, but its practices do not include the worship of a god.


  107. Scientology group offers anti drug programs at city schools

    The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, a group backed by the Scientology church, announced on its Facebook page that it’s offering ‘free drug education events’ in city schools. The group’s honcho said they don’t push religion on the kids. But some parents were still outraged. The group has also invited the NYPD to events to talk about drug prevention.


    Tom Cruise's controversial church has infiltrated dozens of city schools and the NYPD — by running anti-drug programs.

    A Scientology-backed group called the Foundation for a Drug-Free World boasts on its Facebook page that it has spread its anti-drug message — free of charge — to elementary, middle and high schools students in all five boroughs.

    Some parents were outraged.

    “We didn’t know anything about that, but Scientology, to me it’s a kind of ungodly thing that I don’t really support,” said Claude Baptiste, whose son is a sixth-grader at Junior High School 14 in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. “I wouldn’t want my kids to be a part of it, it’s not based on my fundamental religious beliefs.”

    The group claims on its website that there’s an urgent need for its services.

    “Young people today are exposed earlier than ever to drugs,” the website reads. “You probably know someone who has been affected by drugs, directly or indirectly.”

    In a Jan. 23 posting that linked to the Department of Education’s Web page, the group said it was providing “free drug education events” to mark something called “Respect for All Week.”

    The group’s page noted that it had spread the drugs-are-evil message to students at JHS 14, Public School 111 in Manhattan and Bronx Regional High School. The group claims some of the events were within the last several weeks.

    The foundation also boasted it has worked with NYPD youth programs and has even trained school safety agents.

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  108. A high ranking NYPD source said that the department has no direct relationship with the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, although the group has asked police to come to various dinners and events to speak about drug prevention programs.

    “We have in the past gone at the request of the foundation to talk to the group about our programs for preventing drug use by kids,” a high-ranking police source told the Daily News. “We’ve done that for many years and we do it for any group that asks for it. We limit our discussions to basic prevention, tips and Police Department programs.”

    The foundation posted photos from two months ago showing a workshop in an auditorium packed with uniformed school safety agents and two celebrity guests — current Miss New York Jillian Tapper and one of her predecessors, Amanda Mason.

    The school system insisted it was not in cahoots with the Scientologists, a religion founded by sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard that critics have labeled a cult. Scientology has gained a foothold in Hollywood, claiming Cruise and John Travolta as followers.

    “The Department of Education has no contracts or partnership with this organization and does not refer schools to them or recommend their services,” spokeswoman Devora Kaye said.

    But individual schools can partner with outside organizations as long as it does not violate any laws or department regulations, an official said. They’re in the clear, as long as there’s no religious instruction. Sources said the Scientologists were likely invited by the principals.

    Foundation honcho Meghan Fialkoff said they have nothing to hide and “any person can view or order our full curriculum online.”

    “The program is sponsored by many different organizations including the Church of Scientology,” she said. “We have been to more than 600 locations in the city including public schools, private schools, religious organizations and after-school programs.”

    Fialkoff, who says she is both Jewish and a Scientologist, said they don’t push religion on the kids.

    “It’s a secular, nonprofit program,” she said. “Anything that anyone says about it is just someone trying to make this into something that it’s not, and that’s just unfortunate.”

    Nayle Herrera, 27, whose daughters are in kindergarten and the first grade at Public School 111 in Chelsea, was clear.

    “They should not have been speaking to our kids,” she said.

    With Erik Badia, Kerry Burke, Keldy Ortiz, Thomas Tracy


  109. Scientology and DARE Are Coming for Your Kids

    by Abby Haglage THE DAILY BEAST, January 30 2015

    The organizations teaching American middle schoolers about drugs are doing it with lies and fear.

    The Scientology-backed nonprofit Foundation for a Drug-Free World teaches teens that marijuana triggers birth defects and heroin causes spontaneous abortion. With blatant falsities and wild exaggerations, it aims to terrify students into abstinence for life.

    But while the foundation—which claims to have reached more than 50 million worldwide—may have more resources, its curriculum of fear is not unique.

    Virtually all youth anti-drug programs in American operate under the zero-tolerance orthodoxy, and rely on lies to prove it. It’s a strategy that’s proven not only unrealistic, but harmful. Teaching teens to “just say no” only works until they say yes. And when they do, the abstinence-only plan leaves them no choice but to navigate the dangerous landscape of drug experimentation alone.

    Foundation for a Drug-Free World, which New Yorkers learned is taking place at schools citywide, has reached out to thousands of city schoolkids, touting vague assumptions about drugs that lack even basic scientific data. On its eerie interactive webpage, creepy voices erupt immediately, some from dark objects that appear like cages.

    While their connection to the church of Scientology (on IRS forms from 2009-2011, the five top positions are occupied by practicing Scientologists) presents obvious problems for the public schools viewing them, the message itself does not revolve around religion. Instead, it conforms to the zero-tolerance orthodoxy of drug policy, founded and fueled by fear.

    “It’s like if drivers education consisted simply of sitting down and showing kids pictures of crashes—and nothing else,” says Jerry Otero, youth policy leader at the Drug Policy Alliance. “No one would learn how to drive.”

    Megan Fialkoff, spokeswoman for the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, defended its validity in a statement to The Daily Beast. “[It’s] is a secular, nonprofit public benefit corporation that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free,” says Fialkoff. “No one, especially a young person, likes to be lectured about what he or she can or cannot do. Thus, we provide the facts that empower youth to choose not to take drugs in the first place.”

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  110. But instead of preparing kids for the likely inevitable encounters they will have with drugs, the education programs bombard them with videos and images of lives ruined by serious abuse. In doing so, they arm the students not with knowledge, but with terror.

    Formerly the supervisor of Brooklyn’s Drug Prevention Program, Otero found himself jobless when Department of Education budget cuts led to massive layoffs in 2009. Since then, he’s seen what was already a weak drug-education program nationwide dwindle.

    “It’s all built on fear, misstatements, and exaggerations,” he says. Otero says the other big player in the game, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), isn’t much better. In a major 2003 study, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the programs “have not consistently demonstrated positive results” in preventing or reducing substance abuse in teens.

    Since then, D.A.R.E. has implemented a new program, but it’s unclear whether or not the change has helped. As of last year, the organization was still spreading information about marijuana that has no scientific backing, claiming that the drug “poses a major proven risk of addiction or lung cancer, causes brain damage, a-motivational syndrome, suppression of the immune system, and the potential for premature death.”

    According to data from the U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Safe and Responsive Schools, 88 percent of schools practice a zero-tolerance policy for drugs. In a comprehensive report on the subject in 2007, Brenda Davis, a former president of the PTA in California, spoke out about the practice.

    “Suspension or expulsion of students who use alcohol and drugs, without behavioral intervention, mentoring, or rehabilitative referral, is ineffective and unsuccessful in curtailing substance abuse,” said Davis. “Parents and teachers can’t afford to ignore the realities of what their teens are doing.”

    No matter the organization, Otero says refusing to educate kids about both the benefits and harms drugs pose cuts off what needs to be an honest and open dialogue. “It’s reckless. It relies on scare tactics but doesn’t do anything to teach kids how to navigate through a world where they are going to have to make decisions about drugs.”

    Beyond the organizations themselves, he worries that the programs put teachers and parents in an uncomfortable place. “This paradigm leaves adults in the unenviable position of having nothing to say to these kids,” he says. “Because they’ve already done the deed, they’ve called the bluff.”

    After spending years in a leadership role with kids, Otero says these organizations need to give them the benefit of the doubt. “They are amazingly bright, kids. They are able to make decisions based on their own experience,” he says. “Drug prevention and education needs to respect their intelligence.”

    Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, has seen this sort of thing too many times, and says the harm it does is immeasurable. “Drug education should be guided by science, not religion. Rather than being honest and realistic, this program appears to rely on fear and misinformation,” he says. “It’s a combination of loosely interpreted facts, scary scenes, and implausible conclusions tied together with edgy graphics. It’s science fiction.”


  111. Scientology rehab facility roadblocked

    CHCH News, Hamilton, Ontario February 4, 2015

    A controversial drug rehabilitation company with links to scientology is looking to set up shop in rural Milton, but the town is fighting back. The town has denied the application, citing a zoning issue, and the application will now go before the Ontario Municipal Board at the end of next month. Narconon advertises itself as a non-medial rehabilitation program, using unconventional methods – like spending 5 hours a day ina a sauna and taking mega doses of vitamins.

    The company wants to open up shop in Milton, and have purchased a property on Milburough Line. The town says this type of facility doesn’t belong on an isolated country road. Councillor Cindy Lunau maintains the property is not zoned for for institutional use.

    In addition to the zoning concerns, there are other red flags. Narconon has made headlines in past years after 3 people died at one of it’s facilities in the U.S.

    Councillor Lunau says the main concern from residents in the area is that this privately owned facility would change their neighbourhood and be using municipal services at the expense of the taxpayer.


  112. Church of Scientology rehab centre rejected in Warburton

    Sydney Morning Herald February 9, 2015

    Fresh debate over a drug and rehabilitation centre linked to the Church of Scientology has emerged after the program lost a bid to operate in central Warburton in the face of more than a year of intense community opposition.

    A Church of Scientology offshoot, the Association for Better Living and Education, appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, after a unanimous Yarra Ranges Council decision to refuse it a permit to operate its drug treatment program from a central location in Warburton.

    The controversial international program, Narconon, has operated from a secluded site in East Warburton since 2002. The facility was set to move to a central site that abuts seven residential properties, and is 300 metres from a local primary school. The application drew almost 300 objections from local residents.

    ABLE applied for a permit after purchasing the $1.2 million site, but the council rejected it, arguing the program would threaten the community's safety.

    The Narconon program has been associated with deaths in the United States and Europe, and has been banned in Quebec. The program's non-medical practices are contentious in drug rehab circles, particularly the detoxification process, which involves weeks of five-hour-long sessions in a sauna and mega-doses of niacin and other vitamins.

    The Warburton case follows a similar dispute in NSW, where the Wyong Shire Council rejected a permit application for the same treatment facility in Yarramalong Valley due to risks associated with its flood-affected site.

    In a decision handed down on Thursday, VCAT members ruled the residential site was an inappropriate location for the centre, due to the program's insufficient security and management regime. It also ruled that the program was not an education centre, as ABLE proposed in the permit application, but fundamentally a drug and rehab centre.

    Information obtained through freedom of information data by local objectors shows 26 police callouts to the centre since 2005, including an incident in which a student threatened staff with an axe, a psychotic offender threatening to kill and an offender detoxing off heroin and ice harassing neighbours.

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  113. The dispute in Warburton has brought into question the controversial practices of Narconon.

    Local objectors, who formed the campaign "Say No to Narconon", raised concern about the lack of professionalism of the staff, the program's unscientific treatment practices, and they questioned its advertised 75 per cent success rate.

    The program's critics have called for increased accountability and performance reviews of the drug and rehabilitation sector. There is currently no requirement under Australian law to seek a licence to run a drug and rehabilitation centre.

    Local campaigner Lindy Schneider posed: "Beyond the planning scheme where is our cover? Our recourse? Our backstop?"

    Senator Nick Xenophon, the force behind a Senate committee investigation highlighting activities of the Church of Scientology in 2010, said drug rehabilitation programs must be subject to government oversight.

    "These are incredibly vulnerable people ... we need to make sure the base level of accreditation is sought and to start ensuring we have the world's best practice in drug rehab."

    The program costs about $30,000 for a six-to-nine-month stay – plus $260 weekly fees for board.

    Narconon staff are trained internally, learning from the program's own curriculum.

    Ninety per cent of the program involves intense study, based on the teachings of the Church of Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

    Executive director of the organisation running the program Andrew Cunningham said the drug treatment program was fundamentally educational.

    "Our program is 90 per cent educational as it addresses why the user took drugs in the first place and deals with this.

    "People who enter our program are off drugs and are there of their own free will and have paid for the program (no government funding received)."

    He said he was reviewing the tribunal's decision and remained "firmly committed to resolving the serious scourge of drugs on society".

    The program will continue to operate at the existing facility in East Warburton.


  114. Narconon rehab strikes out in second Ontario town

    Narconon’s rehab program, inspired by the religious teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, involves detoxifying sauna sessions and high doses of vitamins.

    By: Jacques Gallant, Toronto Star Staff Reporter February 09 2015

    When Narconon, a controversial rehab program rooted in Church of Scientology teachings, tried to set up shop in Hockley Village near Orangeville two years ago, it was met with angry residents, petitions and “No Narconon” lawn signs.

    In Milton, where Narconon is now trying to open a facility, it is staring down Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw 144-2003.

    The document may not be as attention-grabbing as furious townsfolk terrified by what they’ve read on the Internet, but it is just as powerful. Milton’s Committee of Adjustment and Consent denied a proposal last October from Social Betterment Properties International for a Narconon centre on a parcel of land it acquired on Milburough Line in an isolated, rural part of town. The committee found it did not fit the town’s definition of a group home.

    Social Betterment Properties is appealing that decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, with a hearing scheduled for March 30.

    Narconon’s rehab program, inspired by the religious teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, does not involve over-the-counter medication, but rather detoxifying sauna sessions and high doses of vitamins that is all the rage among famous Scientologists like Tom Cruise.

    It is also controversial, and the subject of lawsuits in the United States filed by the families of three Narconon clients who died at a facility in Oklahoma.
    Clark Carr, president of Los Angeles-based Narconon International, did not return requests for comment. Narconon has previously denied allegations that its practices are unsafe.

    “Narconons have always been strong members of the communities in which they operate,” said Tim Lomas, a spokesman for the Association of Better Living and Education, a Scientology-related entity. “We are moving forward to resolve all issues that have come up on the zoning process so that we can work together with the community to help those suffering from addiction.”

    Milton officials say that the controversy surrounding Narconon had nothing to do with the committee’s choice.

    “This is rural residential, not institutional . . . It’s intended to be agricultural and single-family units, not resorts,” said Councillor Cindy Lunau, whose ward includes the relevant part of Milburough Line. “(The controversy) is certainly another layer of concern, but that has no place in good planning. Good planning doesn’t judge the applicant . . . If we chose every one of our neighbours, we’d have very empty spaces.”

    The committee found that Narconon did not meet the town’s definition for “Group Home Type 2,” as the private facility does not fall under the province’s oversight.

    Health Ministry spokesman David Jensen said private organizations do not require the ministry’s permission to offer treatment and rehabilitation services for substance abuse, but said that the health professionals who work in them would be subject to legislation governing their profession and the oversight of professional colleges.

    College of Physicians and Surgeons spokeswoman Kathryn Clarke said that if a Narconon facility is opened “and we receive any complaints about physicians practising there, we would investigate, and take further action, if appropriate.”

    There is currently no Narconon program in Ontario. The organization lost its bid in 2013 to buy the estate of late Conservative MP Donald Blenkarn in Hockley Village amid furor from the locals. Blenkarn’s decided instead to sell the property to a village resident.

    Carr, Narconon’s president, told the Star at the time that “Narconon is very interested in opening a facility in Canada and we are continuing to explore opportunities to do so.”

    With files from Rachel Mendleson


  115. Scientology launches new legal action against rural NSW residents

    9News Australia March 5, 2015

    The Church of Scientology has launched a new legal challenge in a bid to set up a rehabilitation centre built in the rural town of Yarramalong Valley on the NSW Central Coast.

    Residents in the area have overwhelmingly rejected the development and the church's plan to implement their controversial Narconon program at the site.

    Locals managed to put a stop to the development after lodging complaints with Wyong Shire Council, which rejected the church's permit application for the treatment facility in April last year, citing risks associated with its flood-affected site.

    But the Scientologists have not given up the fight, launching a new challenge which is now before the courts.

    The church has bought a homestead in Yarramalonog, which they plan to convert into a drug rehabilitation centre.

    But former scientologist Paul Schofield, who used to work on the Narconon program says there is no scientific basis to it.

    "It doesn’t' work, pure as that," he told A Current Affair.

    "It's not a drug rehab program as much as it is a scientology indoctrination program."

    He says the program involves a strange and dangerous religious ritual, requiring students to spend up to five hours in a hot sauna, and taking high doses of vitamins.

    A person who goes through the Narconon program is then allegedly indoctrinated into Scientology, where they are encouraged to do continuous courses amounting to thousands of dollars, A Current Affair reports.

    "There is going to people in there who are in need of help, in need of professional help, who won't be getting it," local resident John told A Current Affair.

    Yarramalong Valley residents are looking to Warburton in Victoria for hope, where locals recently won a similar battle against the church.

    The rehabilitation program lost a bid to operate in Warburton in the face of community opposition.

    The church appealed the decision, which was later dismissed.

    "Residents have just had a win in Warburton, where I would have thought the objections weren't as strong as ours, and they've managed to have an eight-nil victory in the local council," local Ron told A Current Affair.

    Meanwhile, at Chatswood in Sydney's north, the church has reportedly paid $37 million for a former national acoustics laboratory, to now be used as the Australian headquarters for the religion.

    The church is seeking to expand with reports suggesting they are desperate for new recruits.


  116. Albion rehab center requests court dismisses lawsuit claiming the center is a Scientology front

    By Will Forgrave | MLive.com March 11, 2015

    ALBION, MI - Administrators at an Albion-based drug rehab center hope a U.S. District Court dismisses a lawsuit against the Narconon Freedom Center, two months after a former patient claimed the center uses its program to introduce Scientology to unwitting patients and sued the organization.

    In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in January, former patient and Ohio resident Lauren Prevec claims the center charged $25,000 in upfront costs before skipping a medical assessment, taking her completely off her anti-depressant medication and attempting to indoctrinate her to Scientology over the course of two months in the summer of 2012.

    (Related: Read the lawsuit brought against Narconon claiming the rehab facility is a Scientology front)

    Prevec is represented by Lansing-based attorney Jeffrey Ray. She is requesting $75,000 in damages.

    Narconon Freedom Center, represented by attorneys Harvey Heller and Kathleen Klaus, filed a motion to dismiss Friday, March 6. Heller and Klaus make up two of 43 lawyers on staff at Southfield-based firm Maddin, Hauser, Roth & Heller.

    "The bulk of (Prevec's) complaint consists of attacks on the Church of Scientology," the motion reads in part. "Plaintiffs hope their diatribe will inflame the court and distract it from (her) failure to state a viable claim under Michigan law ... the complaint must be dismissed."

    Among other allegations, Prevec claims in her lawsuit that Narconon Freedom Center officials:

    Engaged in "romantic relationships" with patients.

    Supplied patients with the same eight course books based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology religion.

    Had patients perform what they called a "new life detoxification program," which the suit alleges is strikingly similar to a Scientology ritual known as the "purification rundown."

    Allowed drugs to regularly be brought into the facility.

    "Narconon Freedom Center is using the program to introduce Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard's 'technology' to unwitting patients seeking drug rehabilitation," the lawsuit reads. "This is exactly as the Church of Scientology directed as part of its 'Social Coordination Strategy.'"

    Prevec was suspended from the center July 3, 2012, because she tested positive for marijuana, the report reads.

    Narconon lawyers cited the contract Prevec signed and initialed before she was admitted to the center, which read in part: "I understand that the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program is an education program not medical treatment," and "I hereby agree that I ... will not make claim against, sue, attack the property of, or prosecute Narconon."

    There have been 118 lawsuits brought against Narconon centers across the country since 1992, electronic court records indicate. Court records show there are have been 33 lawsuits brought in Calhoun County courts since 2005 against the Albion center.

    Court officials ordered a 4 p.m. conference April 3, to "explore methods of expediting the disposition" and "discouraging wasteful pretrial activities," among other matters, the order reads.

    The conference is set before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker in the Ford Federal Building, 110 Michigan N.W., Grand Rapids.

    Narconon officials said they will not comment on the lawsuit.


  117. Scientology-backed drug rehab triggers a furor near Camp David

    By Michael S. Rosenwald, Washington Post April 20, 2015

    When the producers of “The West Wing” needed a Camp David look-alike, they sent President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet to Trout Run, a peaceful array of stone lodges set along a stream near the real Camp David.

    Now a controversial drug rehab program affiliated with the Church of Scientology wants to use the Frederick County property to help treat Maryland’s surge of heroin addicts and other drug abusers with saunas, vitamins and the writings of L. Ron Hubbard. A Narconon official defended the program as a fresh start for “tens of thousands” of addicts, but the organization has also been sued for alleged fraud and wrongful death.

    In a county where political discourse can get a little weird — a council member recently declared that a reporter had no right to print his name in the local newspaper — the debate over Narconon is slipping into the surreal.

    Because of zoning restrictions, the only way Narconon can operate Trout Run as a rehab facility is to get it listed on the county historical register. The property’s current zoning designation, resource conservation, doesn’t permit a group home or medical use, while the historical designation does. So Narconon hired a consultant to write a history of the 40-acre site, noting that President Herbert Hoover visited in the late 1920s and “reeled in a fine one-and-one-half pound trout.”

    When the council votes on Tuesday, it’s only deciding whether the site should be labeled historic. That’s forced opponents, many of whom work in drug counseling and believe the program poses a danger to addicts, to become amateur historians in an effort to prove Trout Run is not significant.

    “No treaties were signed there,” Kristin L. Milne-Glasser, a local drug counselor, wrote to council members. “No President was born or died there. No epic battles were won or lost, no proclamations penned, no foreign dignitaries lodged and feted.”

    “At best,” she added, “Trout Run merits a roadside plaque, inscribed ‘On this site in 1930, Herbert Hoover bagged a big one.’ ”

    At a County Council hearing earlier this month, opponents oscillated from the past to the present, arguing that the long-term treatment program, which can cost upwards of $30,000, is unsafe and that going for the historical designation is a backdoor way for Narconon to get into the county.

    Bruce Dean, the attorney for the project, rebutted those arguments when it was his turn to speak.

    “There’s been some discussion about Scientology, and how that’s bad,” he said. “It’s interesting. I read an article last week in the Atlantic Monthly about how AA is bad and how the 12-step programs are a farce. I don’t know. I’m a land-use attorney. It was an interesting article. But that’s not what’s before you today.”


  118. Lawsuit blasts drug treatment at Narconon in South Santa Cruz County

    By Stephen Baxter, Santa Cruz Sentinel May 5, 20150

    SOUTH COUNTY >> A new lawsuit filed against Narconon of Northern California alleges that its drug treatment center near Mount Madonna gave participants a path to joining the Church of Scientology rather than a way out of drug and alcohol abuse.

    The class action suit, filed in federal district court in San Francisco, alleges breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, false advertising and unlawful business practices.

    Nathan Burgoon, a California resident, attended the program at Narconon at 262 Gaffey Road near Hecker Pass Road in November 2014. He paid $37,500 for drug rehabilitation, and spent 20 days learning about Scientology and six to eight hours of each day in a hot sauna with limited drinking water, according to the lawsuit. He eventually quit the program and asked for his money back.

    “Had Mr. Burgoon been informed that the ‘treatment’ at Narconon of Northern California consisted of the study of Scientology and participation in Scientology rituals, he would not have enrolled in a Narconon program,” wrote his attorney, Michael Ram of the San Francisco-based law firm Ram, Olson, Cereghino and Kopczynski LLP.

    Other features of the program included study from eight books “substantially identical to the path of induction into the Scientology religion,” Ram wrote. Participants were told to take up to 5,000 milligrams of niacin — a vitamin sometimes used to treat heart problems — as well as drink 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil daily as part of a New Life Detoxification Program. Plaintiffs’ attorneys say the regimen is identical to a Scientology religious practice called a Purification Rundown, which is described in the L. Ron Hubbard book “Clear Body, Clear Mind.”

    Hubbard founded Scientology, and its leaders describe it as “a religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the supreme being.”

    Burgoon is suing to get his $37,500 back. His attorneys believe there are many more plaintiffs who could join the lawsuit. The false advertising allegation stems in part from a Narconon claim that the program has a success rate of more than 70 percent. Narconon has been sued for similar claims in other states, such as Nevada.

    Dennis Howell, an attorney who represents Narconon of Northern California, said Tuesday that the rehab program is secular. If there were elements of Scientology in the program, Burgoon and other participants knew about them because they signed an agreement at the start that mentions Hubbard and Scientology, Howell said.

    “From all I’ve observed of this program, the people (at Narconon) really are trying to do their best to get people off drugs and alcohol. They’re trying to break this terrible habit of addiction,” Howell said Tuesday.


  119. Scientology-inspired drug rehabilitation clinic under fire over cure claims
    NEWS.com.au, Australia MAY 11, 2015
    A DRUG rehabilitation centre with links to the Church of Scientology has been fined and ordered to remove unsubstantiated claims made online about “curing” patients.

    Among claims that led Consumer Affairs Victoria to investigate the Get Off Drugs Naturally Foundation was a graph showing “cocaine metabolites being excreted in the sweat and urine of clients participating in the Detoxification program”.

    The foundation’s site in East Warburton is owned by Narconon, an international group inspired by the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
    Counted among its supporters are singer Kate Ceberano, who won the church’s Freedom Medal.

    An online testimonial from Ms Ceberano says the detox helps people “overcome their addiction using no drugs but a thorough Sauna Detox and a series of life skills courses”.

    But the CAV probe, triggered by complaints to the state’s Health Services Commissioner, found there was a “lack of scientific methodology” in the foundation’s claims. As a result, the foundation will remove claims from its websites, pay a fine of $3000, and publish information about the undertaking.
    Patients at the Get Off Drugs clinic pay thousands of dollars for rehab, which includes spending hours daily in a sauna and self-help classes.

    National policy manager at the Australian Drug Foundation, Geoff Munro, said people should be cautious about undertaking treatment.

    Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett said misleading health claims often made vulnerable people the target.

    “It gives people false hope that a complex health issue can be quickly and easily solved,” she said.

    Get Off Drugs’ executive ­director Andrew Cunningham said last night the foundation was working with Consumer Affairs to clarify its web content.
    “Anyone doing this program must have their healthcare professional’s advice as to their suitability for the program. This has also been a long-standing policy for our facility. We have been organising a scientific, peer-review study here in Australia,” Mr Cunningham said.

    “We have assisted hundreds of addicts and their families, over a decade, to become drug free and productive members of society.”

    He added that he had ten years experience in the field. Staff included a trained nurse, two naturopaths and paramedic and key staff members had also qualified for a certificate IV in disability for alcohol and other drugs, Mr Cunningham said.

    A spokesman for Ms Ceberano said she continued to support the centre.


  120. Group speaks out against Narconons plans for Trout Run

    By Sylvia Carignan, Frederick News Post May 13, 2015

    Local residents seeking information about Narconon’s plans for a drug rehabilitation center near Thurmont got more than they asked for at a public meeting Tuesday.

    A Facebook group, “No Narconon at Trout Run,” had 230 members as of Tuesday afternoon. Its local members organized a meeting Tuesday evening at Urbana’s public library, attended by about 20 people.

    Thurmont residents and group members Kai Hagen and Mark Long spoke about a drug rehab center planned for a 40-acre site named Trout Run, off Catoctin Hollow Road near Thurmont, that Narconon wants to open.

    Narconon, an organization that provides drug rehabilitation programs, uses methods developed by the Church of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

    “We do not want Narconon in our community, or any community, for that matter,” Long said.

    To establish a “residential drug rehabilitation center” at Trout Run, Narconon will need the site to be added to the county’s historic register. The County Council has closed the public record and is not accepting further comments, although it has yet to make a decision on the historic designation.

    “The one big issue we have is ... the community is clamoring to have an impact,” Hagen said.
    Members of the “No Narconon” group invited former Narconon student and former staff member David E. Love to speak about his experience at a Narconon center in Quebec.

    “It’s all deceit and a lie, it really is,” Love said.

    The “pseudoscience” used to treat Narconon clients does not rely on doctors, nurses, therapists or counselors, he said.

    “It’s not going to help Frederick at all,” he said. If the Trout Run center is approved, he said, people who are treated there are more likely to come from outside the state of Maryland than the Frederick County area.

    Karl Bickel, a former candidate for Frederick County sheriff who lives in Monrovia, attended the meeting. He was concerned that Narconon and the Church of Scientology are an unusual threat to those suffering from drug addiction because the organizations have been accused of being involved in human trafficking, but there was little talk of those accusations during the Tuesday meeting.

    “I didn’t learn a whole lot here,” Bickel said.

    continued below

  121. According to Sylvia Stanard deputy director of the Church of Scientology’s National Affairs Office, Scientology “supports” Narconon, but the only connection between the church and Narconon is that church members can donate to help buy property for Narconon.

    Her husband, John Stanard, the church’s national director of social betterment programs and policy, said the Narconon program uses some literature that “could be found in materials in the Church of Scientology,” but spiritual and religious references are removed from them for Narconon students’ use.

    Love said that the literature used in Narconon is taken “verbatim” from Scientology teachings.

    Social Betterment Properties International, which owns the Trout Run site, is the real estate arm of the church. The company and Narconon have requested that their Trout Run property be added to the county’s historic registry.

    The Frederick County Council last discussed the proposal April 21, when it voted for the second time to postpone its decision on a historical designation for Trout Run.

    Under the site’s current zoning restrictions, Narconon’s plans for a group home for 12 live-in clients — referred to as “students” in their proposal — would not be allowed. Instead, the Board of Zoning Appeals decided to allow the organization to make changes to the site through a special exception: The County Council must add the site to the Frederick County register of historic places.

    If Trout Run is designated historic, changes made to the structures will need Historic Preservation Commission approval.

    The commission “will expect architecturally-sensitive and historically-appropriate responses to any handicap accessibility or life safety modifications to the site or structures,” county planner Denis Superczynski wrote to the Board of Zoning Appeals in 2013.

    Kimberly Mellon, a Cascade resident and community activist, is a member of the “No Narconon” group who attended the meeting. She said that County Council members should still listen to residents’ concerns, even though the record has been closed.

    “It’s my hope that they are learning about it,” Mellon said.


  122. Unhappy drug detox clinic patients demand their money back

    by MATT JOHNSTON AND ALEX WHITE, Herald Sun MAY 23, 2015

    RELATIVES of former patients at a drug detox clinic linked to the Church of Scientology have complained of being duped and ripped off.

    The Sunday Herald Sun has spoken to family members who paid about $30,000 for loved ones to attend the Warburton East Get Off Drugs clinic, which is backed by singer Kate Ceberano.

    Two alleged victims said they later learnt of harrowing experiences.

    Earlier the family had signed up for $30,000 after they were shown information about the site including an endorsement video from Ms Ceberano.

    After about a week the patient was allegedly sent packing from the centre for showing “no interest” in completing the Narconon program.

    It allegedly took legal threats to get a little more than half of the $30,000 back, with an invoice seen by the Sunday Herald Sun showing the patient was charged about $10,000 — or $66 an hour for 24 hours a day — for “treatment”.

    This included one session where a picture book of Alice in Wonderland was provided to read.

    “It was a nightmare,” one family member said.

    Another relative of a patient who also paid almost $30,000, said: “There were books of Scientology everywhere. They say it is not ­Scientology but it is done ­very subtly.”

    Family members of victims say that aside from massive fees to join the program, which includes readings by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Centrelink payments are deducted for “food and board”.

    The worrying allegations come after the Sunday Herald Sun revealed the Get Off Drugs centre, which runs the Narconon program inspired by L. Ron Hubbard, was fined after a Consumer Affairs Victoria probe for misleading claims about curing patients.

    Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett said the Get Off Drugs Naturally Foundation was “on notice”.

    Consumer Affairs Victoria would continue to scrutinise the centre’s marketing activities. TheSunday Herald Sun sent a series of questions to executive director of Get Off Drugs Naturally, Andrew Cunningham, on Friday but did not receive a response.

    Previously, Mr Cunningham said the Narconon ­program was run across 40 countries and there were “countless testimonials from our clients that show the efficacy of our drug free program”.

    “People who enter our program are already off drugs, participate of their own free will and have paid for the program,” he said at the time.


  123. Maryland: Vote Is a Setback for Scientology-Linked Rehab Center

    By ANDREW SIDDONS, New York Times JUNE 2, 2015

    The Frederick County Council on Tuesday voted 6 to 1 against placing a fishing retreat on a local register of historic places, making it very unlikely that a drug rehabilitation program with ties to the Church of Scientology will be opened. The retreat, near Camp David, has been visited by several presidents. The vote against adding the property, known as Trout Run, to the historic list will deny the retreat the zoning it would need for a Narconon facility. The Council was urged by its lawyer to consider only Trout Run’s historic character and not the practices of Narconon. Narconon is likely to appeal.


  124. Ready, willing and not ABLE to set up a drug, alcohol rehab centre at Yarramalong

    by Therese Murray, Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate November 25, 2015

    AN OFFSHOOT arm of the Church of Scientology has lost its Land and Environment Court bid to build a super drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre at Yarramalong­.

    Residents and Wyong Council are celebrating the “landmark” decision by the court.

    In 2013, Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) lodged the application to build the first Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in NSW at the Rose Hill Lane property.

    The Narconon program uses the methods and principles of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and has attracted criticism by medical authorities for its “cold turkey” methods.

    Wyong Council knocked it back in April last year following uproar by residents and ABLE lodged an appeal with the Land and Environment Court.

    On Tuesday, Acting Senior Commissioner Graham Brown dismissed the appeal on the grounds of a failure by the applicant to address resident concerns about social impacts as well as the site not being suitable because of bushfire risk.

    The court cited a lack of information about sewage disposal, flooding risks, adequate water supply and traffic impact while the works required to develop buildings on the site were never approved.

    Yarramalong Community Action Group spokesman Ron Lee said residents were ecstatic over the decision.

    “It’s an early Christmas present for Yarramalong,’’ Mr Lee said.

    “Commissioner Brown had a number of valid concerns about the proposal.

    “We feel justified and the council staff do, too. We are so grateful to the council staff for fighting this and helping us to get this result.’’

    Wyong Mayor Doug Eaton said the landmark decision was a major win for residents and “testament to the resolve of the council to continue the fight against inappropriate development”.

    “Right from the start the residents raised genuine concerns about the impact this facility would have on the local community and didn’t rest in their resolve to fight it,” Councillor Eaton said.

    Earlier this year, ABLE president Kaye Conley said her association was the owner of the Yarramalong property, and not the Church of Scientology. She said Narconon programs operated around the world.

    Ms Conley said ABLE was reviewing the decision and will not be commenting in detail until it has properly considered the findings.

    “We remain firmly committed to resolving the serious scourge of drugs on society. There is an urgent need in the community for further drug rehabilitation services to help individuals in their recovery from drug and alcohol problems,’’ she said.