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Scientology’s drug rehab network sued for conspiring to misuse counseling credentials

Eric Tenorio

Eric Tenorio

The National Association of Forensic Counselors filed a stunning lawsuit on Friday against not only Scientology’s Narconon drug rehab network in the US, Canada, and the UK, but also Scientology leader David Miscavige himself, alleging that Scientology knowingly and for years conspired to give the false impression that its rehab facilities and many of its staff members were accredited by the NAFC.

This lawsuit is the culmination of an investigation that began more than a year ago. At that time, we talked to Karla Taylor, CEO of the NAFC, who was incensed when she found out that Narconon officials were falsely claiming to be certified by her organization.

We also learned at that time that it was former Narconon employee Eric Tenorio who had made a formal complaint to the NAFC which began Taylor’s investigation. Tenorio alleged that Narconon employees were obtaining their individual certifications as Certified Chemical Dependency Counselors (CCDC) through fraudulent means, and were not notifying the NAFC that multiple deaths had occurred at Narconon’s flagship facility, Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma, resulting in multiple county and state investigations.

Taylor told us that not reporting those deaths could mean automatic suspension or revocation for the certification holders — and sure enough, Narconon Arrowhead CEO Gary Smith’s CCDC was soon taken away, as we reported on March 7, 2013.

But Taylor also complained at that time that the Narconon network’s many websites were misusing the NAFC logo, and were giving the impression that Narconon’s unscientific drug treatment program itself had been accredited by the NAFC. As Taylor made very clear, only individuals are certified by the NAFC, not whole organizations.

It was clear to us last year that Taylor was extremely frustrated that Narconon seemed to be making a concerted effort to appear legitimized by the NAFC by misusing its trademarks and logos.


And now, a year later, the NAFC is taking action. The lawsuit the NAFC filed Friday lists a huge number of defendants, as you’ll see in the complaint itself, which we’ve posted below. Not only is Gary Smith in there, but so is Scientology leader David Miscavige — and we’ve seen in a Texas lawsuit how Scientology reacts when Miscavige is named as a defendant, with an army of lawyers and intense legal warfare.

But Taylor and the NAFC chose a law firm that already has considerable experience investigating Narconon — the lawsuit was filed by Gary Richardson’s Tulsa firm. The former prosecutor is handling more than ten lawsuits against Narconon Arrowhead, including wrongful death claims filed on behalf of the families of three patients who died at the facility in 2011 and 2012.

We’ll get Gary Richardson and Karla Taylor on the phone as soon as we’re able.

In the meantime, we have the complaint itself, which does more than describe that some individual staff members at Narconon facilities were pretending to have certifications that had expired, been revoked, or had never existed.

Just one example that seems almost beyond the pale: Clark Carr, the former comedian and current president of Narconon International is accused of advertising that he had a counseling certificate before he’d actually obtained it, and he continues to call himself certified when his CCDC expired in 2012.

And that’s the guy who runs the entire rehab network.

The complaint also lists a large number of URLs for the generic referral websites that have, the NAFC says, been misusing its logo. As we’ve pointed out before, these notorious websites pretend to have no connection to Narconon, when scripts they use push people who inquire to the Scientology network.

Another very intriguing element of the lawsuit: The NAFC says that David Miscavige, at a Scientology event, publicly gave bogus information about Narconon’s certification. We’ll do our best to find video of that event if it exists.

After citing dozens of misuses of the NAFC’s certifications and logos, the lawsuit then aims at the overall picture — that Scientology has conspired to misuse these trademarks in order to give Narconon a veneer of legitimacy, and, by extension, to Scientology itself…

Defendant Narconon Georgia was raided and shut down by the local authorities, yet continues to use improperly the NAFC logo on its website without consent as recently as September 2, 2013, long after the raid, revocation and NAFC’s cease and desist letter.

Defendants Narconon International, ABLE, Friends of Narconon, RTC, and Church of Scientology International operate a common scheme with the Narconon Treatment Centers, the Narconon Referral Entities and the other individual Defendants to promote the Narconon Network through the misuse of NAFC logos, trademarks, and certifications.

Ultimately, the promotion of the Narconon Network is done to further the goals and purposes of the Church of Scientology to “clear” the world and for planetary dissemination of Scientology ideals.

The Scientology religion is carried out through corporations, such as Narconon, which are repsonsible for delivering Scientology religious technology in their operations.

The NAFC logos and designations are willfully used by Defendants to bolster the credibility of the Narconon Treatment Centers and counselors in order to draw members into the Church of Scientology and for the increase in profit at the expense of Plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs have recently learned about Defendants’ schemes and misuse of the certifications, logos and links.

As a consequence of Defendants’ actions, the NAFC certifications have been devalued to the public, the State registration boards, the national boards and the national authorities, including causing serious questions concerning the independence of NAFC.

As a consequence of Defendants’ actions, Plaintiffs have suffered significant financial and reputational damages while Defendants have obtained significant financial and reputational benefit.

“This could be devastating for the Narconon name if other news organizations pick this up and report that Narconon for years has been misrepresenting itself as a legitimate treatment organization,” a former Narconon employee tells us.

And the timing couldn’t be worse. Just last month, we released internal documents which show that Narconon Arrowhead has surprisingly low numbers of patients, and is taking in far less money than it spends.

But Narconon is trying to deal with the loss of NAFC certifications. The former employee tells us that the rehab centers have moved on to another certification scheme after the NAFC revoked so many credentials last year.

“They’ve started pushing employees to get certified as ‘RAS’ — registered addiction specialist — by the Breining Institute,” he tells us. “They’ve had someone going around to the Narconons getting employees to do crash courses in it.”

He pointed out that it sounded a lot like the way Narconon previously pushed the NAFC’s credentials.

Here’s the complaint…


NAFC vs Narconon: Complaint


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 19, 2014 at 00:00

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