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Media Articles - 1990s

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3 December 2002
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Late Narconon Pay, Tie to Scientology Hit

By Michael McNutt, Enid Bureau

Daily Oklahoman,
Thursday, October 29, 1992

NEWKIRK - Several former employees of Narconon Chilocco New Life Center criticized the facility Wednesday for failing to promptly pay their salaries and overtime, and claimed that the recently licensed drug and alcohol abuse facility is a front for the Church of Scientology.

Gene McCormick, who quit as Narconon Chilocco's chief of security on Monday, and Edith Clark, whose duties included head of international training, had the harshest words for the 75 bed facility when the group met with reporters Wednesday in a downtown Newkirk building.

Clark said Narconon Chilocco owed her an undetermined amount of back wages because she said the facility refused to pay her overtime even though she says she worked 60 to 70 hours a week.

Clark, who worked at Narconon Chilocco for 19 months, said she has complained to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Most employees are paid minimum wage and have to sign contracts, Clark said. Many are required to read material that comes from the Church of Scientology.

"It's a front for Scientology," McCormick said.

More Scientologists are scheduled to arrive at the facility shortly, he said.

Narconon Chilocco president Gary Smith called comments from his former employees unfortunate.

"In the last 2 1/2 years we have employed over 300 people and now there a few that are complaining," Smith said in a statement. "It's unfortunate that anyone would continue to oppose our efforts to get people off drugs. "We are a licensed facility and have passed all tests and inspections, I can find 1,000 supporters of Narconon Chilocco for each detractor," he said. "We are open and we will continue to get people off drugs."

Bruce Pyle, a public information officer at the facility confirmed McCormick and Clark worked at the facility.

Smith has denied any ties with the Church of Scientology.

However, Narconon Chilocco staff members said during public hearings last year that some materials from the late L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, are used in some drug and alcohol rehabilitation courses.

McCormick said he never was approached to join the Church of Scientology, but he has seen Scientology literature given to staff and trainees.

Pictures of Hubbard are hung in each of the buildings but religious pictures or books are banned at the facility, he said.

Clark said she was asked several times to read Scientology material, and she believes Narconon Chilocco is being used as a recruiting tool by the Church of Scientology.

"Why would they make me study it if it's not a front for Scientology?" she said. "If it's not Scientology, why would they force the people to study it"

"The whole point is they want to turn anybody there into a Scientologist." McCormick called Narconon Chilocco disorganized, and said he has seen a number of former students who completed the program return because they failed to stay off drugs or alcohol.

He said it was common for trainees to walk the six miles from the Narconon Chilocco campus to Newkirk to go to bars and drink beer.

McCormick said Narconon Chilocco has trouble keeping patients. Some leave a week or two after arriving because of austere conditions.

Clark said living quarters are not air-conditioned, and dining and kitchen facilities were dirty. She said she often saw cockroaches in the kitchen. Hamburgers and hot dogs make up most meals, she said, for staff and for patients who pay $22,750 for a three-month course.

"For people that pay the amount of money they do to come through the rehab center is ridiculous," Clark said.

She said some trainees at the facility have contagious diseases and some lack proper immigration cards.

McCormick said he quit after two-and-a-half years because of late pay.

On December 1, 1992, the United States Department of Labor Office in Tulsa confirmed that there was an investigation underway regarding the cases of at least one of the non-Scientology employees who had left Chilocco following their Health Department licensing. Results of the investigation are unknown at this time and it may be late December or early next year before they can be obtained through the Freedom of Information act.

Reports have come in, unconfirmed as yet, that the remaining few non-Scientology employees at Narconon have been asked to leave, including Bill Grant and his wife, who are supposed to be some kind of relatives to Garry Smith's wife.