In the many lawsuits filed against Scientology’s drug rehab network Narconon in recent years, the allegation is often made that the facilities are not as safe as advertised. Not only have sexual assaults been reported, but some lawsuits have alleged that Narconon staff — who are often just recent “graduates” of the program themselves — offer drugs for sex in the supposedly drug-free facilities.
Way back in 1991, when Scientology was trying to get its new flagship operation going in Chilocco, Oklahoma (later moved to another part of the state and renamed Narconon Arrowhead, pictured above), the state’s Board of Mental Health could see the danger of recent graduates being hired right after they themselves were drying out, and then giving each other unsupervised “touch assists,” which essentially amounted to faith healing in the form of massage.
The practice of touch assists between male and female patients who are recovering drug addicts or alcoholics in private rooms renders the program unsafe in this respect.
The Oklahoma Board of Mental Health also noted that the idea of “detoxifying” by sitting in a sauna five hours a day for a month was completely bogus and unscientific, but that hasn’t kept lazy governments from allowing the quack Narconon method to operate pretty much unregulated around the country.
Anyway, the folks who keep a close watch on Narconon — at NarcononReviews and ReachingfortheTippingPoint — have documented voluminous examples of sexual assaults that have been reported at Narconons over the years. And we wanted to tell you about just one of the more recent ones for what it reveals about Narconon and its policies regarding crimes committed in their centers.
We’ve told you that friend to the Underground Bunker and researcher R.M. Seibert has been making requests for records of police calls to various Narconons around the country. As part of a records release Seibert pried out of the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office, where Narconon Arrowhead is located in Oklahoma, she noticed a 2011 record which said that the father of a 47-year-old man wanted to report his own son for assaulting an 18-year-old woman at the rehab center. The father was turning in his own son, the brief record said, because Narconon itself refused to report the crime. Wow.
Seibert followed up with another request — was there more information about that incident?
Her persistence paid off. Not only did the Sheriff’s Office dig up the more complete record of what they learned in 2011, but they also made a call this month to follow up on finding the perpetrator — and they got a surprise. Here, take a look at the report Seibert recently received (we’ve removed the name of the victim)…
So what did we learn? That Narconon will get your ass on the next plane out of Oklahoma if you are accused of shoving your hands down the pants of a female at their facility, and they’ll do it before the police arrive, which they aren’t about to call anyway.
We also learned that requesting documents from a law enforcement agency might actually get them up off the couch to see if they can locate a fugitive. But in this case, it all turned out OK, with the perp dead and all.
Alice VanGrondelle, librarian for the Flag Land Base, was so unhappy that she’d been pulled in to help watch over Lisa McPherson, she wrote up a Knowledge Report about it to complain about the people who sent her there.
At 1:30 in the morning on November 22, 1995, she’d been awoken by Leslie Woodcraft, a personnel officer, who told her she needed to go relieve a woman name Susanne Schnurrenberger.
Susanne had done two days of watching a public Scientologist who had gone “Type III” — psychotic — and Susanne needed rest. Leslie said there was a car waiting for Alice to take her from her apartment to the Fort Harrison Hotel.
Alice refused. “This is not my hat,” she said angrily, using Scientology jargon to say it wasn’t her job to watch some crazy public. Leslie said it wasn’t her “hat” either, but Alice had been chosen and needed to go. She was a veteran and could handle a Type III, Leslie told her. And while Alice was there, Susanne would watch the library for her.
Alice continued to refuse, and Leslie started cursing at her, telling her to get the fuck out of bed. The argument went on for 25 minutes.
Knowing there were no senior executives she could appeal to at 2 in the morning, Alice finally gave in and agreed to go.
She arrived and replaced Valerie Demange, who had been working for more than 24 hours straight. Alice confronted the same scene her previous caretakers had. Lisa McPherson was in Room 174, one of the cabanas out by the pool, but this was no vacation setting. Lisa was “blabbering” and “incoherent,” and she was dressed in only a bra and panties and was cold as an “ice cube,” Alice later wrote in her Knowledge Report.
Alice herself was wearing thermal sweats and a coat, but she was wary of getting close to Lisa, after hearing that she’d been violent with the other caretakers. When she sat down next to her, Lisa talked gibberish but seemed harmless.
Alice went through Lisa’s luggage and pulled out a pair of jeans and a long-sleeve shirt. She also put shoes and socks on Lisa, who indicated that she liked Alice’s coat, so Alice gave it to her to wear. She wore it throughout Alice’s 16-hour shift.
Around four o’clock in the morning, Lisa laid down to get some rest, and slept through about 6:30.
About an hour later, Alice asked her, in a written note, if Lisa was hungry. Lisa said she was, and when Alice wrote another note asking what she wanted, Lisa said she wanted a shake. (If you’re just joining us on this series to remember, in real time, what happened to Lisa McPherson 20 years ago this week, her caretakers were prohibited from saying anything in her presence, according to the rules of the “Introspection Rundown,” which L. Ron Hubbard came up with in 1973.)
Alice went outside where a security guard, Alfonso Barcenas, was sitting on a bench. She asked him to go to the kitchens and bring back a breakfast of eggs and potatoes, but also a protein shake. What he brought back was huge.
“It must have been almost a quart shake with protein, bananas, strawberries, some kind of a fruit, I think. It looked fantastic,” Alice testified later.
Lisa nibbled at the eggs and potatoes, but she drank the entire shake and drank some orange juice.
While that was a good sign, Lisa was also still talking nonsense and moving around the room erratically.
She would count to eight and then spin around like she was dancing, about 30 or 40 times during the day, Alice estimated. Lisa talked about people Alice had never heard about, and a man in particular.
“If he was here, I’d like to see him. He was so much to me,” Lisa said.
Hour after hour, Alice wrote, Lisa talked incoherently, and her breath was “foul.” A sign, Janet Reitman noted in her book Inside Scientology, that Lisa was beginning to suffer from uremia, a toxic condition caused by her kidneys functioning poorly.
At times, Lisa would suddenly burst into tears and say, “E.T., go home. E.T., go home.” She did it one time while resting her head on Alice’s shoulder.
Another time she talked about a woman she’d had fun with, and the bars they had gone to for drinking and dancing. She would tell a story like that, and then suddenly go into her count and spin around again. Or she’d put her legs on Alice’s and talk “gibberish” as if she were having a conversation with her.
Besides the disconnected talk, Lisa was also spitting, Alice told police. “She’d spit all the time, spit on the floor, spit into her juice and spit on the food. And then at one point she spit and threw my coat on top of it. I was like, Oh, God.”
Lisa also got violent, kicking a dresser to the point that Alice worried she was going to hurt herself. She called Alfonso for help, and Lisa then took swings at Alice and bruised her. After about 45 minutes of taking swings at the two of them, and saying “horrible profanities about men,” Lisa finally calmed down again and sat down on the bed.
When Alice had dressed her, she didn’t notice any bruising or other marks on Lisa. But she did see half a dozen red marks on her face, and wondered if she had measles.
She also noticed that afternoon that Lisa was warm, and might be developing a fever.
That evening, after her 16-hour stint, Alice was replaced by Valerie Demange, who was back for another shift. Alice never went back to the room or saw Lisa again.
In her Knowledge Report, what seemed to anger her the most was that, in fact, her post at the library had not been covered as promised and it had been a busy day there. Also, she had not had any food or drink during her entire time with Lisa, and then she had no way to get back to her apartment and had no money with her to get anything to eat.
Alice complained that she was “out of sorts from the whole ordeal.”
We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.
Our book tour is concluded for now. (But you can re-experience it through this nifty interactive map!) We’ll let you know about future appearances. Previous events: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15), Cleveland (9/23), Minneapolis (9/24), Portland (9/27), Seattle (9/28), Vancouver BC (9/29), Sydney (10/23), Melbourne (10/25), Adelaide (10/28), Perth (10/30)
Posted by Tony Ortega on November 22, 2015 at 07:10
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