Tactics Anger Drug Center's Foes in Newkirk
October 15, 1989
Tactics used by a California firm wanting to operate a drug treatment center near here to soothe local opposition aren't the kind taught in a Dale Carnegie course, some center opponents say.
Instead, many local residents describe the action by the parent firm of Narconon Chilocco New Life Center as either insulting or intimidating.
Behavior of a private investigator hired by a lawyer representing Narconon International and the Church of Scientology, a religion some consider a cult, has been described as rude by people he visited during a two-week visit here.
Eugene M. Ingram left town after residents complained to authorities he carried a gun during some of his visits.
Ingram denied he carried a handgun, saying the only "weapon" he carried was his pen.
Ingram, upset that criminal charges of carrying a concealed weapon were filed against him in Kay County, said he was considering filing a lawsuit against those he said tried to slander him in Newkirk.
After Ingram's visit, a Los Angeles lawyer who hired him, Timothy Bowles, sent letters to almost all of the residents in this north-central Oklahoma town eight miles south of the Kansas border criticizing the local newspaper publisher one of Narconon's most vocal critics.
Some residents, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, called The Oklahoman to complain about receiving an unsolicited letter that they said tried to smear the reputation of someone they knew.
Bowles also had part of the letter published as an advertisement in the Arkansas City, Kan., newspaper.
The subject of the letter, Bob Lobsinger, said the letter - apparently sent to addresses contained in an old Newkirk telephone book - proves his concerns about having Narconon as a neighbor were correct.
"As far as I can tell, they've succeeded in shooting themselves in the foot again," said Lobsinger, who himself received three letters in the mail. "They're trying to discredit me. They spent an awful lot of time and have used an awful lot of words but they have not refuted one fact that I printed in my paper the last six months."
The last paragraph in the two-page letter implies that Lobsinger has something to gain by blocking the proposed Narconon Chilocco New Life Center being built at the old Chilocco Indian School grounds north of here.
"Obviously anyone who would actively oppose such an effort must profit in some way from the proliferation of drugs in our society," the letter says. "An active campaign in the press to discredit this requires an investigation into the sources of this campaign."
Narconon plans to open its 75-bed facility this fall, though no firm date has been set, a spokesman said. The facility first must be licensed and certified by the state.
Lobsinger said he's "received nothing but supportive calls from people I don't even know here in town."
Ingram and Bowles, meanwhile, aren't apologizing for any feelings they might have upset.
"What we're concerned about is the source of all the hubbub about this," Bowles said. "It's fantastic the amount of misunderstanding that is being perpetuated in the press."
Lobsinger has published documents linking Narconon with the Church of Scientology, although some Narconon officials denied any connection.
Lobsinger and Newkirk Mayor Gary Bilger say that Ingram tried to intimidate them into signing statements or letters rescinding their request to state officials asking for a review of how Narconon Chilocco New Life Center got its certificate of need from the state in January.
Bilger said Ingram tried to "intimidate and coerce" local residents into retracting critical comments they have made about Narconon, focusing on a packet sent by Newkirk leaders to state officials.
The mayor said Ingram told him "certain things were going to happen" and talked of Narconon filing a lawsuit against him if he failed to write a letter "acknowledging the packet was false."
Lobsinger said Ingram paid him two visits, the first time using "methods of intimidation that are very subtle and very legal."
"He spent most of the 2½ hours telling me that the highest echelons of the Church of Scientology were very concerned about what he called a hate campaign that I was running against them and suddenly let it be known that if I didn't cease and desist that they would have to take legal action," Lobsinger said.
When Ingram returned five days later, a resident told authorities Ingram was wearing a handgun. Lobsinger said he did not see a gun.
Ingram's purpose on the return trip was to get Lobsinger to sign a purported transcript of their earlier conversation, Lobsinger said.
Lobsinger declined when he saw the last paragraph stated they talked about the "many false statements" town leaders sent to the state.
"All he's done is prove what I've been saying - they're trouble," Lobsinger said.