After three deaths within a nine month period at Narconon Arrowhead, its former President is sounding off about what he says happens behind the facility's walls.
Fox 25 first told you about deaths at Narconon Arrowhead back in May. Since then, several agencies have launched investigations into the facility, which is located in Canadian, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health is now investigating Narconon Arrowhead. Then, after police found Stacy Murphy dead at the center last month, the Pittburg County District Attorney's Office also launched an investigation. The DA is looking into whether to file criminal charges against Narconon for Murphy's death. Last week we told you about how Senator Tom Ivester announced plans to file legislation aimed to regulate practices at drug treatment programs, like the one at Narconon Arrowhead.
Now one of the former leaders of Narconon Arrowhead is speaking about why he thinks the facility is more affiliated with Scientology than it claims to be. Lucas Catton was the President of Narconon Arrowhead around two years. He says he not only worked there, but he also went through the drug treatment program. Catton think Narconon Arrowhead should be more open about its ties to the Church of Scientology.
"From a Narconon perspective, immediately what that tells me is that we're apparently not doing our jobs well enough to have even one happen," said Lucas Catton. "Let alone three, four or more."
After three deaths within a nine month period at Narconon Arrowhead, the drug rehab facility's former President is coming forward.
"Any loss of life is hopefully unnecessary and specifically in a case like this, where they're going to a place like this for help and there's potential or apparent negligence involved, it's absolutely tragic," said Catton.
Lucas Catton started working for Narconon Arrowhead in December of 2000 after he went through the drug treatment program. A couple of years later he became President.
Catton no longer worked for Narconon Arrowhead in 2009 when Kaysie Werninck was there. According to court documents, in February or 2009, Werninck checked into Narconon. Around a month later, she died at a hospital. The lawsuit filed by her family says Werninck was at Narconon when she became "seriously ill with an upper respiratory infection."
"It's tragic," said Catton.
Last month Stacy Murphy became the third person to die in a nine month period at Narconon Arrowhead.
"Stacy should not be dead and her death should not be in vain," said Robert Murphy, Stacy Murphy's dad.
Hillary Holten and Gabriel Graves also died at the facility.
"We just need to find out what's going on and get some answers and make it stop," said Shirley Gilliam, Gabriel Graves' mom.
Catton recently cut ties with the Church of Scientology. He think Narconon Arrowhead needs to be more open about its connection to the church.
"I think that if it were just honest with what it was and not pretend to be something it's not, then it would still get clients," said Catton. "They would know exactly what they're getting when they went there and not be potentially deceived or thinking otherwise."
Narconon Arrowhead does mention the founder of the Church of Scientology on its website, L. Ron Hubbard. However, Catton says some people don't know who Hubbard is.
The CEO of Narconon Arrowhead, Gary Smith said in a statement to Fox 25: "Narconon has always acknowledged that our organization receives support from the Church of Scientology."
However, Catton says Narconon's involvement with Scientology goes beyond that. He says the facility teaches some of the same courses taught in the Church of Scientology.
"The sauna program, the detoxification program, is based off the book "Clear Body Clear Mind" by L. Ron Hubbard and it is the same exact program, the same set of policies and procedures that are used at a Church," said Catton. "It's just named something different. The beginning communication exercises that they call training routines or "T-R's", they're also done inside of a church."
Narconon's CEO, Gary Smith said in his statement: "While most of the principals and rehabilitation methods used at Narconon can be found within the vast amount of information contained in the religion of Scientology materials, all of the materials pertaining to the Narconon recovery program have been completely secularized and contain no religious philosophy."
Catton does not think Narconon Arrowhead should shut its doors, but he does think it needs to be held accountable for the deaths that occurred.
"Given the situations and the tragedies recently, clearly there's medical attention that was not given, otherwise these people could have been saved or at least not all or I'm sure most of them could have been," said Catton.
Some former Narconon patients and family members are planning a protest at Narconon Arrowhead. It's scheduled for Saturday. Fox 25 will be there.
Tuesday night on the Fox 25 Primetime News at Nine, we'll show you why Narconon Arrowhead's former President says the facility's success rate is not as high as it says it is. Plus, we'll tell you about the recruiting program where he says people are paid thousands of dollars to get people to sign up to attend Narconon Arrowhead.