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Media Articles - 1990s

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Narconon Seeks To Bar State Input

By Michael McNutt

Daily Oklahoman
October 16, 1991

State mental health department staffers are recommending denial of certification for a substance abuse center in Kay County.

But officials at Narconon Chilocco New Life Center are asking the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse not to consider the state report.

Narconon Chilocco has been unable to get a state Supreme Court order to bar the mental health department from taking part in Friday's scheduled certification hearing.

Narconon officials apparently are falling back on claims they first made a year ago that the state agency is biased against the center.

"They will contend that they have a legal reasoning, but I'm not sure what it is," said Guy Hurst, an assistant in the state attorney general's office, which will represent the mental health department.

Board members will take up the certification request at a meeting set to begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the Sequoyah Auditorium at the state Capitol Complex in Oklahoma City.

A report from the mental health department's staffers says Narconon Chilocco, which has been accepting patients since February 1990, does not meet the state's requirements for having a certified treatment program.

Mental health staffers question the safety and effectiveness of the program.

They claim the fact that the drug center is not in total compliance with state criteria for alcohol, drugs and domestic violence programs in Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, several legislators told The Oklahoman they have been receiving letters from people asking them to support Narconon's application.

Rep. Jim Reese, R-Deer Creek, said Tuesday the letters are from people who work at Chilocco.

Gary Smith, president of Narconon Chilocco, has sent legislators copies of letters from ministers supporting the facility's treatment program.

They include letters from Marvin Bordelon, president of the American Conference on Religious Movements in Rockville, Md.; John T. Barrow Jr., a high priest with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Tolleson, Ariz.; and Donald N. Sillis, executive director of the World Council on Religious Liberty in New York City.

Narconon Chilocco lawyers successfully argued last year before an Oklahoma County judge that the mental health department's staff was prejudiced against the 75-bed facility located north of Newkirk.

As a result, the agency's staff was banned from making recommendations to board members about whether Narconon's program should be certified.

Narconon Chilocco claimed staffers were biased because the facility receives money from the Church of Scientology.

Earlier this year, another Oklahoma County judge overruled that order.

Narconon Chilocco appealed to the Oklahoma Suprme Court for a stay order to delay the lower court order from taking effect.

The high court did not consider the request.