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Media Articles - 1990s

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12 January 2003
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Abuse Center May Face Contempt Charge

The Okhahoman, Oklahoma
5 October, 1990

A substance abuse center operating without state approval admitted a patient after a district judge last month issued an order prohibiting new admissions, a state official confirmed Thursday.

A California man was admitted by the Narconon Chilocco New Life Center on Sept. 12, less than a week after District Judge Neal Beekman approved a settlement that kept the facility open while it sought state certification and licensing.

Rob Cole, a lawyer for the Oklahoma Department of Health, said he would talk with District Attorney Joe Wideman about filing a criminal contempt of court action against Narconon Chilocco.

The health department sought an injunction to shut down the center for operating without state approval since February.

Gary Smith, Narconon Chilocco president, said Thursday the patient was enrolled and accepted into the Narconon program before Beekman issued his court order. Smith would not comment further on the matter.

Cole said the California patient entered the Narconon facility on Sept. 12 and left Sept. 21.

"That individual is no longer there, and we don't know whether it's going to be a waste of the court's time to pursue it (a contempt charge)," he said.

"We are going to advise the court of the situation and the district attorney. It's technically a violation of the court order and contempt charges could and may be filed."

Beekman issued an order Sept. allowing Narconon Chilocco to remain in operation while it applied for state certification. He also ruled the treatment center, which then had 35 patients, could accept no new patients until after it was approved by the state.

Beekman also ordered state agencies to speed up the application process so the center could be considered for certification this month.

If Narconon's program is certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health, the state will drop its injunction request, Cole said.

Meanwhile, Narconon Chilocco representatives have talked with Newkirk city officials about holding a parade and setting up concessions stands Tuesday in downtown Newkirk. That is the day the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the facility's certification application.

City manager Dave Haynes said Narconon representatives also asked for permission to have airplanes land Tuesday at the municipal airport.

Smith earlier said Narconon plans to bring in experts from throughout the country to speak on its behalf.

"We're just getting all our ducks in a row," he said Thursday.

Comments made during the public hearing, as well as a report of an on-site state inspection and Narconon's plan to correct administrative and record-keeping deviciencies, will be used by mental health department staff to make a recommendation on whether it should be certified.

The recommendation will be acted on by the State Mental Health Board at its Oct. 18 meeting in Norman.