Mental Health Board OKs Appointment
The Daily Oklahoman,
March 9, 1991
The Oklahoma mental health board overruled objections by Narconon International officials Friday over an Oklahoma psychiatrist selected to review the controversial Narconon Chilocco New Life Center drug treatment program.
The board unanimously approved the appointment of Dr. John Chelf of Tulsa. After holding two closed sessions, the board dismissed claims by Narconon attorney Barry Woods that Chelf would not be independent of the board.
Chelf, who specializes in addiction, was named in December to head an independent review of the Newkirk drug treatment facility.
The review was ordered after Narconon got a court order blocking mental health board members from reviewing reports from an earlier inspection. The company claimed the documents were biased against the facility because of its ties with the Church of Scientology.
Narconon officials voiced objections to Chelf on Tuesday, citing Chelf's association with mental health board member Dr. L. Dwight Holden.
Woods showed board members notes taken by a Narconon official during a September phone conversation with Chelf. Narconon at the time was trying to recruit a supporting opinion from an Oklahoma physician, Woods said.
"We had already gotten supporting reviews by doctors across the country," Woods told the board. "We wanted to add to that an opinion by a qualified Oklahoma doctor."
Woods said Chelf declined the paid review offer by Narconon. Notes taken during the conversation quoted Chelf as describing the center as "too politically hot" to become involved with.
Chelf, who was not present at Friday's meeting, did not dispute that the conversation took place, Woods said.