Narconon Under Fire

WSB Radio, Georgia/October 1, 2012

The lawsuit filed by Patrick Desmond’s family against Narconon of Georgia is one of several filed against the drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Last month, the parents of Hillary Holten sued Narconon Arrowhead in Canadian, Oklahoma after she died while in that facility’s care.

Holton, who died April 11, was one of three Narconon Arrowhead patients to die while under the facility’s care in a span of 12 months.

Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso, Oklahoma, died at Narconon Arrowhead on July 19. Gabriel Graves, 32, died last October. In 2009, Kasie Dianne Wernink, 28, died at Narconon Arrowhead. Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns told the local newspaper his report on the deaths had been filed with the district attorney’s office. First Assistant DA Richard Hull said his office is awaiting toxicology reports before deciding whether charges will be filed.

At first glance, the civil suit filed by Holten’s parents reads much like the suit filed by the Desmond family.

Like the Desmonds, Matthew and Suzan Holten said they began searching for a rehabilitation center in “hopes that she could obtain treatment for drug issues.”

When Hillary arrived at Narconon Arrowhead April 9th, her parents received an email from a staff member “promising they would ‘take good care’ of Hillary.” Colleen Desmond received a similar promise when she dropped Patrick off at Narconon of Georgia.

Unlike Patrick, Hillary had a severe underlying health issue. She suffered from Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia which required daily medicine and sometimes an injection of liquid cortisone. Two days after she arrived at Narconon Arrowhead, she died.

While citing privacy restrictions in refusing to respond directly to allegations in the recent string of deaths, Narconon Arrowhead CEO Gary W. Smith wrote in an open letter:

It is Narconon Arrowhead’s position that the organization has not violated any laws or certification requirements and has been in full compliance with all requests made by the regulatory agencies and law enforcement involved in the current investigations.

In Quebec, Canada, the leader of a regional health agency said he shut down Narconon’s Trois-Rivieres rehab center last April after at least four clients were hospitalized.

Marc Latour, director for the Mauricie Regional Health Care Agency, said the center was dangerous for patients and violated regulations governing rehab facilities in the Canadian province. He cited lengthy sauna detox sessions and the ingestion of unhealthy amounts of vitamins as being among the reasons for his decision to close the facility.

Approximately half of the 34 clients who were enrolled at Trois-Rivieres when it was closed were sent to a Narconon treatment center in the U.S., according to a report from the CBC. Narconon issued a statement defending its model for rehabilitation and offering to make corrections as outlined by the health agency. Narconon Trois-Rivieres remains closed.

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