Man alleges assault, unwanted pills at Narconon in Newport

Lawsuit from Florida resident seeks $29,000 refund from company

The Orange County Register/March 13, 2009

Newport Beach - A Florida man is suing Narconon Southern California, saying a brief stint in its Newport Beach drug rehab house subjected him to sexual assault, unwanted medication and demeaning work..

Pablo Mendoza checked into the company’s Balboa Peninsula triplex in September seeking help for cocaine addiction and found the oceanfront house to be "filthy" and filled with an "unbearable odor," according to the lawsuit filed against Narconon Southern California on March 6 in Miami-Dade County Court..

"He immediately wanted to leave and go back home to Miami, but the facility representatives refused his request to call his family to complain and request that he come back home," the lawsuit says. "He was prohibited from using the telephone.".

Soon after, Mendoza says he was given pills that resulted in nausea and diarrhea. "He asked not to take the pills anymore," the lawsuit says. "The facility said he was obligated to ingest these pills, (four) times per day.".

Over the next three days, Mendoza says he suffered an array of "horrendous and outlandish mistreatment," such as a male masseuse rubbing his crotch, and being the only client forced to clean the kitchen, a duty Mendoza attributes to his race..

Later, after a fellow client targeted him with a vulgar sexual comment, Mendoza "told the student he would throw him off the balcony" because he is a "proud Hispanic Cuban and this violated his cultural norms," according to the lawsuit..

In the suit, Mendoza also complains about Scientology being practiced at Narconon. "It was never revealed that Narconon is a Scientology facility. Pablo Mendoza is a Catholic," the lawsuit says..

Mendoza says he left the home after three days having finished only "1 (percent) of the program." .

Several hours after being asked for comment Friday, a Narconon official e-mailed a reporter asking about the inquiry. A link to an online story about the lawsuit was sent back, and five minutes later, Mendoza’s attorney - Frank L. Hollander - phoned the reporter, saying he’d received a call from Narconon offering a $29,000 refund to his client and admitting no wrongdoing..

"They haven’t admitted anything," Hollander said. "The parties have fully resolved their differences.".

In a follow-up e-mail, the Narconon official declined to comment..

The home in the 1800 block of West Ocean Front has been used for drug rehab since the mid-1980s, but Narconon didn’t move in until the mid-1990s..

Resident complaints about noise and constant deliveries at the 27-bed home have been heavy at times, and under a previous agreement with the city stemming from a new law on rehab homes, the Narconon house has agreed to close in early 2010.

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