Narconon Ordered Closed; Judge Wants Patients Removed
By Michael McNutt
May 15, 1992
PONCA CITY - A controversial drug and alcohol treatment center, told last year by state officials to shut down, has been ordered by a district judge to stop treating patients.
The order to close Narconon Chilocco New Life Center took effect Thursday when the ruling by District Judge Neal Beekman was delivered to officials at the center, six miles north of Newkirk.
Beekman issued a permanent injunction to close Narconon Chilocco on Wednesday, after taking the matter under advisement for more than two months. He presided over a hearing Feb. 27.
Beekman said the permanent injunction will remain in effect until Narconon Chilocco "obtains all proper licenses from the state of Oklahoma. " He also ordered that all patients be removed immediately.
Guy Hurst, an assistant state attorney general, said state officials will wait a few days to see if Narconon Chilocco complies with Beekman's order.
If not, state officials will seek contempt of court charges, he said.
Gary Smith, president of Narconon Chilocco, said court papers will be filed today asking Beekman to stay his order while lawyers for the center seek a new hearing.
Narconon Chilocco, which sought state approval to treat 75 patients, had 10 Indian patients Thursday. About 40 people were being trained in Narconon techniques at the center, Smith said.
Smith said some new issues have developed since February's court hearing. Last month, the Tonkawa tribe announced that it would create an agency governing treatment programs operating in Indian country.
Narconon Chilocco, located on Indian land, never was licensed and no tribal agency to regulate the center was in place, Beekman stated in his ruling.
Beekman said a provision in Narconon Chilocco's lease to locate its program at the old Chilocco Indian school calls for state regulation and control over the center's operation.
He determined that his court has jurisdiction, but that its jurisdiction did not "diminish or take away the sovereignty of the five tribes that own the Chilocco land."
Narconon Chilocco began accepting patients in February 1990. It did not apply for state certification until several months later when state officials sought a permanent injunction to shut down the facility because it was treating patients without a license.
Beekman took evidence in a hearing in September 1990, but withheld making a decision until state officials decided whether to certify Narconon Chilocco.
Court cases filed by Narconon Chilocco delayed state proceedings until December, when the State Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, after two lengthy hearings, denied certification.
The state mental health board ordered Narconon Chilocco to close in December, saying its treatment plan, which relied on saunas and vitamins, was medically unsafe and experimental. Narconon Chilocco went to court and won delays of its ordered shutdown.
Narconon Chilocco appealed the mental health board's ruling in Oklahoma County District Court. Oral arguments are to be heard today.
State officials again brought to Beekman their request for a permanent injunction to shut down Narconon Chilocco.
te officials said Narconon Chilocco is unregulated and dangerous.Narconon Chilocco's lawyers argued the state lacks jurisdiction because thefacility is on Indian land.
During the past two years, Narconon Chilocco treated 190 people, including 41 Indians.
State officials said Narconon Chilocco cannot claim tribal control because the facility is not owned by a tribe, and does not treat only tribe members.
Narconon Chilocco has maintained the state has no power to enforce its laws on the old Chilocco campus.