District Judge Rules Narconon May Accept Patients
The Okhahoman, Oklahoma
November 10, 1990
Narconon's drug treatment center in Kay County may accept patients while waiting to learn if its rehabilitation program will receive state licensing, an Oklahoma County district judge ruled Friday.
"I know nothing about the program. I know nothing about the Church of Scientology," Judge Leamon Freeman said after issuing his order.
Oklahoma is "woefully lacking" in drug rehabilitation programs, he said.
Freeman's order countered a Sept. 7 order by Kay County District Judge Neal Beekman, blocking the Narconon Chilocco New Life Center from accepting any more clients until it is certified.
Narconon attorneys on Friday told Freeman the Kay County judge's order is threatening to bankrupt the rehabilitation center.
Freeman said the center's client population may not exceed 35.
The Narconon Chilocco center north of Newkirk has come under fire for its ties to the Church of Scientology, and some local residents have expressed fears that the center could become a recruiting tool for the church.
Narconon officials deny that the center is affiliated with the church, although it receives support from the church and uses treatment methods developed by church founder L. Ron Hubbard.
Narconon sought relief after the state Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services failed Thursday to act on certification.
Freeman on Wednesday blocked the board from using a mental health department staff recommendation in making its decision.
The staff's recommendation that the board reject certification was biased, Freeman ruled. The judge said a "so-called independent expert" selected by the staff to review the program demonstrated prejudice.
"It's like having an independent investigator to look into the situation in Kuwait and sending Saddam Hussein to do it," Freeman said.
The board, without a recommendation or legal counsel, floundered for several hours before deciding to hire a lawyer to represent them in the matter and establish an independent review committee to examine the Narconon center.
Patrick Ryan, attorney for the mental health board, said it should take 30 to 45 days to complete the independent review of Narconon.
Narconon also has gone to federal court to challenge the state's authoritiy to license the Chilocco center because it is on sovereign Indian land.
Meanwhile, an official of an organization co-founded by the Church of Scientology alleged Friday that patients had died of mistreatment at Western State Hospital in Fort Supply, and that those deaths are being covered up.
Jane Allen, chairman of the Colorado chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, said two patient deaths at Western State in the past few years occurred under suspicious circumstances.
Allen leveled the charges at a news conference outside the mental health department offices.
Department spokeswoman Rosemary Brown said the department believed the charges were part of Narconon's drive to gain certification.
"It appears to us that the charges they are making against this department in terms of patient care issues are an effort to discredit this agency or divert attention from the certification process," Brown said.