State Requests Contempt Citation Against Narconon
By Michael McNutt
February 12, 1992
State officials Tuesday requested a contempt of court citation against the Narconon drug and alcohol treatment center, which is violating a court order by continuing to treat patients.
Meanwhile, the president of Narconon Chilocco New Life Center, near Newkirk, said the center plans to accept new patients as early as next week.
Gary Smith said Narconon should be allowed to continue to treat Indian patients because it is on Indian land and therefore exempt from state regulations.
"We're determined to stay here," he said.
Four Indian patients remain at Narconon, although Oklahoma County District Judge John Amick last month ordered that the center stop treating patients on Feb. 10.
Guy Hurst, with the state attorney general's office, filed papers Tuesday with Amick asking that a contempt citation be issued. No hearing has been scheduled on the matter.
Narconon officials maintain that Amick's order does not cover Indian patients.
Four non-Indian patients were sent to a Narconon center in Los Angeles, but four Indian patients decided to stay at Narconon Chilocco.
Smith said the Native American Council of Chilocco wants Narconon to continue to treat existing Indian patients and to accept new Indian patients.
Indians belonging to the Kaw, Ponca, Otoe-Missouria, Pawnee and Tonkawa tribes may receive free drug and alcohol treatment, according to terms of a lease Narconon signed with the Chilocco Development Authority. The authority manages the old Chilocco school and is made up of representatives from each of those five tribes.
Instead of paying, members of those tribes enrolled at Narconon Chilocco participate in a work-study program in which they perform certain tasks at the center.
Average cost for treatment at Narconon Chilocco is $21,000.
Two years ago, actress Kirstie Alley, Narconon's spokeswoman, announced plans to establish a sponsorship program for Indians outside of Oklahoma to come to the center for treatment.
Smith said fund raising will be stepped up to pay for treatment costs of Indian patients who do not belong to the five tribes exempt from payment.
"We're getting some good response from supporters," he said.
In addition to new patients, Narconon Chilocco recently started generating new money by training people to work at its other centers. Those people pay for their training.
Smith said Narconon Chilocco hopes to earn enough revenue to stay in business until May when officials will appeal a decision by the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services denying the center state certification.
In rejecting certification, board members said Narconon's program, which relies on saunas and vitamins, is experimental and medically unsafe.
One patient still at Narconon Chilocco said Tuesday the program has been effective in her efforts to overcome alcohol and sniffing paint.
Michele LeClair, 37, a member of the Ponca tribe, said she has been at Narconon Chilocco since Aug. 20 and plans to work there and attend college when she completes the program.
She said she did not know when she would finish treatment, which normally lasts three months.
"We've got a saying here, It takes as long as it takes,'" she said.