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Scientology’s Drug Rehab Network Stymied in Canada, Sued by Insurers, Generally Screwed

Take off, Clark! Er, hoser!

Take off, Clark! Er, hoser!

Oh, Narconon. For so many years you were Scientology’s reliable cash cow, doing your best to pretend that you actually had nothing to do with the church itself, but basking in the glow of testimonials by Scientology’s biggest celebrities — Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley, who all parroted that you were doing legitimate work as a drug rehab network.

And now, it’s all falling apart so fast we can hardly keep up.

Last night, we confirmed the news that Narconon’s attempt to purchase a 150-acre tree farm in Hockley Village, northwest of Toronto, for a large new drug rehab facility was foiled when the owner sold to a local buyer.

Meanwhile, broke the news last week that one of Narconon’s insurers has filed suit over the lies Narconon Georgia’s executives told a court there. And we have just learned that another insurer has also filed suit as a result of the same mess in the Atlanta suburbs.

Atlanta is burning, Toronto said “Take off, hoser,” and Narconon’s woes only seem to be multiplying.

First, the big news in Canada. Since July, Scientology’s Sea Org members masquerading as Narconon executives were putting on a full-court press in Hockley Village, trying to convince the local populace that it was a good idea for the family of Conservative MP Donald Blenkarn — who died last year — to sell Blenkarn’s idyllic 150-acre parcel for a new rehab facility.


On July 19, Narconon International president and sometime standup comic Clark Carr met with local residents to answer their questions.

“I think they were expecting three people to show up, and more than 100 did,” says a person who is close to the sale who did not want to be named for fear that Scientology would retaliate after losing out.

“Carr was creepy. He seemed like a used-car dealer. He seemed like a big con man to me,” the person told us. “The way he answered questions, he didn’t answer things completely. And when someone asked who would actually be the purchaser, he said Scientology would be buying it and ‘gifting’ it to Narconon. He actually said it like that.”

That is creepy.

After that first meeting, and through August, local resistance to the sale grew, and lawn signs opposing the sale to Narconon appeared as local residents did a lot of research about Scientology.

Local residents were already wary because the church seems to be targeting the area in a big way. In 2009 Scientology purchased a former resort in nearby Orangeville to convert into its newest “Advanced Org” — a facility for delivering Scientology’s expensive upper-level teachings, which involve exorcising invisible alien souls, known as body thetans, for about a thousand dollars an hour. And now, just a few kilometers away, a major Scientology drug rehab? Residents could be forgiven for asking themselves, why us?

Meanwhile, our informant tells us that the Blenkarn family wanted a “community-friendly” buyer for the Hockley Village parcel.

“They’re still going to live here. They didn’t want to be the black sheep in the community. They wanted to do the right thing.”

The sellers were asking $2.9 million for the parcel, and our informant tells us the sales price was in that neighborhood. Scientology then came back with a counter offer for more money, but the seller turned it down.

“The buyers had already let them know that they weren’t interested in getting into a bidding war,” our informant says. So the seller didn’t budge.

“I don’t think it would have fit into Donald Blenkarn’s wishes to see it go that way, to Narconon.”

Our informant tells us that the local residents had quickly researched the situation after Scientology came to town — a testament to the work of campaigners like David Love, whose constant efforts to expose Narconon resulted in another Canada facility, in Quebec, being shut down by health officials last year.

We asked Love for his thoughts about this latest development.

Well Tony, I’ve been in close, constant contact with some concerned citizens in Hockley. I was aware that with Narconon Trois-Rivières being shuttered, they would try to open in Ontario. There are two Scientology physicians in Ontario who were seeing Narconon Trois-Rivières students when Dr. Labonte was banned. I filed a formal complaint with the Ontario College of Physicians some time ago. Since Carr appears to have the financial means and the support of David Miscavige, I expect that he’ll try for another property as close as possible to the new planned Advanced Org. Now that some of the Hockley citizens have taken up the cause to keep Narconon out of Ontario by contacting officials, I will help them as much as possible. This is a community that perhaps should be an example of what people can achieve when they stand together, shoulder to shoulder in battle.

Meanwhile, Narconon’s ill-fated facility in the Atlanta suburbs continues to generate worlds of hurt for Scientology.

The 2008 death of patient and employee Patrick Desmond led to a lawsuit brought by his parents. It was eventually settled, but not before a stunning set of documents was unearthed by Desmond family attorney Jeff Harris, documents which have led directly to state criminal investigations of insurance and credit card fraud, and a raid by police. One of the key issues: Narconon Georgia was only licensed to run as an outpatient clinic, but it was quietly running a residential, inpatient program, and lied to prospective clients and at least one drug court that it was licensed to house patients.

Those untruths are coming back to bite Narconon in a big way. As’s Ann explained Friday, the Evanston Insurance Company has filed suit, asking that its insurance policy with Narconon Georgia be voided from its beginning, “meaning that Evanston would not be required to cover any of the legal costs or judgments against any of the entities named as defendants in the class action case. Narconon will be required to either find another provider, or cover the costs themselves,” Ann explains.

And now, another insurance company is piling on. Western World Insurance had previously filed suit against Narconon, then had put its lawsuit on hold. But now the suit is back with a vengeance, as one of our legal advisers explains to us after looking through the documents…

An insurance company has a duty to pay for the defense of a company that it insures if the company is sued. This is a fundamental aspect of a business insurance policy. Western World Insurance has been trying for well over a year to get out of paying for the defense of Narconon in the Desmond lawsuit. Eight months ago Western World agreed to cover the defense but stated that it would re-open its lawsuit when the case was over. Western World has now re-opened its lawsuit and it incorporates into its amended complaint the revisions to the Desmond complaint that were made after Western World’s initial filing, i.e., it brings its former complaint up to date.

If the court rules that Western World is not liable for any of the defense costs of Narconon Georgia, Western World wants the court to order Narconon to give back all of the money Western World spent defending Narconon.

Western World names the Desmonds as defendants because it wants any court order to relieve Western World from having to pay any money demands from the Desmonds (i.e., to pay a judgment or other costs). Western World wants to walk away without having to pay any money for Narconon’s defense or judgment or settlement.

In order to get the court to relieve it of the duty to defend, Western World points to the fraud and false statements of Narconon, and there are many. It also points to the lies Narconon told in its insurance application, such as one year saying it had only outpatient treatment, and then later saying it was licensed for residential treatment. Both statements were fraudulent. Western World also argues that Narconon breached the insurance agreement by making false and misleading statements in court and by failing to produce documents. This led the court to rule Narconon had no right to submit an answer. Western World argues that Narconon’s actions meant it failed to cooperate in its own defense, and the insurance policy says Western World should not have to pay when that happens.

The Evanston case is very similar. It seems that Narconon, again, wants the insurance company to pick up the tab for its defense. Evanston wants to be relieved of having to defend Narconon, and it is offering to return the insurance premiums. Evanston names every party in the class-action lawsuit as a defendant because it wants the court to rule that no party can look to Evanston for any money, whether the money is for lawyers or judgment or settlement. In the event that the court doesn’t relieve it completely of its duty to defend, Evanston asks the court to rule that it doesn’t have to pay any claims that result from things Narconon did that are outside the policy, like claiming a cure rate. That kind of promise is expressly excluded from the policy. Now that the Desmond case is over, and there is more evidence of Narconon wrongdoing, Evanston may have a better chance than Western World did before of getting the court to side with it.

For longtime Narconon watchers, this day was all too predictable. As we’ve been reporting for the last year, nearly every part of Narconon’s business model is designed to be deceptive — from luring in prospective patients with boiler-room websites that hide their connections to Narconon, to keeping those prospective patients and their families in the dark about Narconon’s connection to Scientology. Patients are told that they’ll get individualize drug counseling in a setting with medical personnel, when they’re actually getting Scientology training with employees who are former patients, some with hardly any training at all.

Is it any wonder that insurance companies are thinking twice about defending a business that can’t tell a single straight fact about itself?


Bill Strauss and the Freewinds

Another gripping tale from Karen de la Carriere, J. Swift, and the Angry Gay Pope…



Posted by Tony Ortega on September 4, 2013 at 07:00

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