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Richard Teague speaks out after his horrific ordeal at a Scientology rehab center

Rick_TeagueYou may remember that we’ve written previously about the ordeal of Richard Teague, a man who in 2011 set himself on fire at a Scientology-affiliated drug rehab center in Michigan, resulting in a lawsuit that we’ve been keeping an eye on.

The last time we checked on the case, Teague’s attorneys had found some fascinating new testimony from a nurse who worked at a facility where Teague spent time.

Now, the lawsuit has been settled and Teague did not sign a confidentiality agreement. So, for the first time, he’s talking to the press.

First, some background to refresh your memory of his story. On January 7, 2011, Teague paid $12,000 to enroll at Narconon Freedom Center in Albion, Michigan, one of several Narconon or Narconon-like rehab clinics that are owned, operated, or housed in property owned by a man named Per Wickstrom.

According to Teague’s lawsuit, he was hoping to kick a problem with alcohol and klonopin, but after enrolling at Narconon Freedom Center, he was then sent for five days to a “medical detox” facility in Battle Creek called A Forever Recovery. while he was there, he was subjected to Scientology’s ideas about ‘detoxifying’ — long stays in the sauna, massive intake of vitamins, and drinking a concoction called ‘Cal-Mag.’ Teague was going through serious withdrawal, with numbness in his face and arms, but after five days he was sent back to Narconon Freedom Center. According to his complaint, On January 15, 2011, while being held in the “withdrawal unit” of Narconon Freedom Center, Teague, while exhibiting symptoms of severe benzodiazepine withdrawal, set himself on fire with the use of a cigarette lighter and a spray cologne bottle. With flames engulfing him, he ran outside and extinguished the fire by plunging into the snow.

Narconon Freedom Center was dropped from the lawsuit earlier, and now Teague has settled with A Forever Recovery — and we don’t know the terms. But Teague told us he is free to discuss his time at AFR, and his recovery since.

“I’m doing OK. I mean, I just had back surgery, so I’m a little sore, but I’ve been sober for three and a half years now,” Teague told us by telephone from Michigan last night. We asked him what A Forever Recovery had been like, as a facility.

“They took me to this, literally, beat up two-story house. It was like a place you’d live with some roommates. You sit around and watch TV. They said they had a hot tub. But it was on the deck outside, in January. It didn’t seem like much of a medical facility, really,” he says. “Given my history, I clearly needed a medical setting, not a dormitory setting. I never saw a doctor except for a few seconds when I first got there.”

After only five days, he was sent back to the other facility — too soon, his attorneys argued, and that resulted in his injury. (Teague says he can’t discuss what happened at Narconon Freedom Center, which was earlier dropped from the lawsuit.)

But his lawsuit described terrible injuries. We asked him how he’s doing today, three years later.

“I have permanent scarring. I had skin grafts. It has healed, but I have permanent scars, particularly on my abdomen,” he says. Besides the medical help, he also saw a psychiatrist, a therapist, and had intensive outpatient services. It’s that support, not what he experienced at Narconon, that really helped him, he says. He’s currently working as a building superintendent, and continues to attend a recovery program.

We asked him what he might say to someone considering the Narconon rehab network.

“It’s a cult, and I highly recommend that you seek professional help. I lived through it, and I have a better life today, and no thanks to them,” he says.

Meanwhile, yesterday we also heard about more bad news for Per Wickstrom’s facilities in Michigan. reported that it was publishing complaints made to the Michigan attorney general about Wickstrom’s clinics.

In the fall of 2013, Narconon Reviews submitted a FOIA request to the Michigan Attorney General’s office for any complaints filed against Best Drug Rehab, A Forever Recovery, Narconon Freedom Center and Tranquility Detox….The bill for the retrieval, review, examination, redaction, photocopying and shipment of the records came to $696.43. The cost was a tad prohibitive for a few volunteers with no outside funding.

Fortunately, a very generous donor, who wants to remain anonymous, emerged to pay for the records. As a result, 33 formal complaints with the Michigan Attorney General are now available on Narconon Reviews that were previously unavailable on the Internet.

Reading through some of those complaints, we saw the characteristic deceptions inherent in the Narconon system — not explaining to prospective clients, for example, that they’ll be going through Scientology training, and not get drug counseling.

After looking through those records we’re left with the question: How many complaints — or lawsuits like Richard Teague’s — have to be filed before the state of Michigan does something about it?


Sydney’s on fire!

Yes, just a day after we plagued you with a new release of Scientology Hip Hop, today we have another glossy production by the organization that loves to celebrate its impending planetary takeover.

And now that the Sydney Ideal Org is open, it’s bursting with energy to clear Australia! Come one, come all!



A cryptic note asking for calm

A few weeks ago, we received a friendly inquiry from a rather legendary name from Scientology journalism’s recent past. We were happy to be in a position to provide some small assistance to this person, who very shortly will have a new piece out that we are very much looking forward to.

We were going to keep our trap shut about it in the meantime, but a few days ago, the news organization this person works for put some preliminary material, in the form of links and a description, on its website. That material, which was prematurely posted, was then taken down.

That has caused some folks among our readership to freak out a little, and claim that this news organization had been “hacked” in some way. We’ve seen some pretty weird theories flying in our comment section.

Please, just remain calm. A kickass new story is going to show up soon, we’ll immediately link to it, and all will become clear.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 23, 2014 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer


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  • media_lush

    … and for some late night gossip…. this is pretty much regarded as John Travolta/Kelly Preston for No 1 and Riley Keough {Lisa Marie Presley’s daughter} for No 2…. but hey, it’s just gossip, right?

    • Captain Howdy

      Well, according to hearsay they were all present at The amfAR Cinema Against AIDS Gala.

      • media_lush

        … this falls into my belief that Kelly Preston is the female celeb equivalent of Miscavige…. she’s [apparently]/allegedly] so controlling that the surprise pregnancy/arrival of the new blond haired Travolta kid was deliberate and the only way she could keep her husband from blowing… she also controls Krustie, too.

        If any further proof were needed let’s just say that she was actually shot by Charlie Sheen… imagine the kind of woman that could do that? [scary lulz]

        • Captain Howdy

          Jenna Elfman was on that list of western U.S OSA volunteers. I don’t doubt Kelly is the same.

          Guns and drugs/alcohol don’t mix..makes it hard to make those difficult head-shots.

    • Jimmy Threetimes

      I don’t follow the celeb news very closely, so forgive me, but why are there “blind items” about red carpet events? Shouldn’t that just be covered with everyone identified? Or is it supposed to be like a trivia game?

      • media_lush

        the point is you’re supposed to guess and the reveal comes weeks/months/years later…. the point being it adds to the cred of the poster that what he/she posted turned out to be true. This person is a friend of Enty and he allows him to post blinds he’s not privy to…. the thing with Enty is that he reveals his blind items on a daily basis and pretty much bats 1000 and is also about the only major gossip site that has never been sued … i.e. he’s the most reliable

        • Jimmy Threetimes

          Yeah yeah, I get the point of a blind item, but what I mean is why are there blind items for events covered by many journalists? That part doesn’t make sense. There must be more than a dozen people covering it. So it’s just for a game at that point?

          • Jimmy Threetimes

            That’s the point of a “red carpet” right? a bunch of paps can take photos and gossip journos can hobnob? They’re well documented by definition. So like, only one single “blind item writer” noticed where a couple sat once the event started? That’s all I’m sayin

            • media_lush

              very few paps are allowed inside these events. those that are are from official/respected outlets only and even then are only allowed for the first quarter hour or so to get the ‘sit-down’ shots; they are then expected/told to leave. It’s standard practise for all events like this as it allows the guests to get drunk etc without the threat of a pic being taken. Blind items come from other celebs or staff willing to spill the beans. More often than not PR companies themselves are willing to tell stuff to get rid of a client they no longer want to represent. It’s a mucky salacious business but so are the people it exposes.

          • L. C. Spencer

            A lot of times a blind item is something someone might get sued for if they state it blatantly, because it can’t be proved or whatever. So this way the story gets out, but with no names attached, and the editor is safe while still getting readers’ attention.

    • KNMF

      I guess Maya Rudolph for #2.
      She knows a thing or two.

  • Frodis73

    Better late than never: Happy Birthday Tony!

  • Suppressive Meritorius

    Happy Birthday from Davey

    • aegerprimo

      How sweet of COB to make that. DON’T EAT IT! It may be laced with arsenic or vistaril or something.

      • SOL


      • TDA1541A

        Or the Benzies

    • TDA1541A

      Thanks COB

  • Suzy

    Happy Birthday Tony…we love you! Keep on bunkin’ and de-bunkin’

  • aegerprimo
    • aegerprimo

      Rundown of new ads…

      Sacramento, Las Vegas, Orange County, and Ventura –
      Start here…

    • NOLAGirl

      Hmmm a “quota”? That sounds a lot like a business to me.

      Keep up all that “we’re a church” stuff Dave, everyone is totally buying it.

      • aegerprimo

        I have to share a quote from the ad…

        Millions of copies have been sold all ready, but I have a sales quota, so I don’t want to give you the name and then you get it somewhere else 🙂

        That dog don’t hunt!

        • NOLAGirl

          Thanks to you and the others for posting the new ads, sometimes that’s all I have time to flag so I appreciate that you all do that. If I’m not mistaken, the earlier they’re flagged the easier they are to get taken down correct?

          • aegerprimo

            Yes, that and location.

          • Robert Eckert

            Our best understanding of the algorithm is that the number of flags is compared to the number of times the ad has been opened and viewed without a flag. If we flag the ad before it gets many views, it will go down quickly. Old ads become “sticky” because they have accumulated a lot of views; and in big cities (NY, LA, SF in particular) this happens more quickly.

  • Ruby

    Raising a glass as I toast a Happy Birthday to you, Tony! 🙂

  • Sir_Real

    Tony can’t receive too many happy birthday salutes for all he does inside and outside the Bunker. No one shared this yet so here goes:

    • media_lush

      actually I shared it as my link…. but didn’t actually post the pic… either way no worries (credit would have been nice, ed)

      • Sir_Real

        Agreed, credit was due and I stand corrected with an edit.

  • Michael Leonard Tilse

    Happy Birthday Tony.

  • Mark

    Many happy returns, Tony 🙂

  • aegerprimo

    An excellent article inspired by Tony’s article this week – Scientology’s drug rehab network sued for conspiring to misuse counseling credentials.

    Narconon faces federal lawsuit

    NAFC is the only organization to offer an accredited Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor certification on a national level and has never delegated the authority to provide such certifications to any of the named defendants, according to the lawsuit.

    “The Narconon Network allegedly “willfully misused (and continues to misuse) Plaintiff NAFC’s logos, trademarks and false certifications to further the goals and purposes of the Church of Scientology International. Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that the misuse was calculated to increase the credibility of the Narconon Treatment Centers and the affiliated counselors, and to expand the reach and profitability of the Church of Scientology International to Plaintiffs’ detriment,” according to the lawsuit.

    The suit alleges NAFC has suffered by the “repeated abuse and misuse of the NAFC logos, trademarks and certifications.”

  • Illinoisian

    Happy Birthday, Tony.
    May you be safe and protected.
    May you be healthy and strong.
    May you be happy and peaceful.
    May you have ease and well being
    as you move through life.

  • Sir_Real

    Another great article by Chris Shelton, again don’t know if it’s been shared yet.

    • Free Minds, Free Hearts

      Yes it was shared below by DodoTheLaser I think – and I am subscribing to Chris’s blog now which I think will be well worth it.

  • Frodis73

    Just got done reading about 95% of the complaints from MI. You know, I’m really pissed…there are aprox 30 sep complaints in this dump. Are they asleep at the AG’s office? I can’t believe nobody noticed the amount & similarity of the complaints. It’s frustrating.

    Also, how the ppl that run these scams & tell lie after lie slays me. How do these ppl sleep at night? I know, I know, the greatest good for the group, blah, blah, blah. This shit is just so hard to wrap my head around some days. I don’t believe in hell, but I hope I am wrong–if I am, there just *has* to be a special circle for these ppl.

    • flyonthewall

      I was thinking the same about why MI doesnt do more and I would bet anything they don’t want to tangle with them bc THE STATE IS BROKE and they know Narconon/Sci have deep pockets and badass lawyers. Detroit can’t even afford to keep all their street lights on not to mention taking Narc/Sci to court if it’s not a guaranteed win. I don’t think MI realizes how backed into a corner Narc/Sci is though. All they need is a few more good body blows and it’s KO for good. Maybe after Hamilton wins a few cases they will grow some balls

      • Frodis73

        I did forget about the dire financial situation of the whole state. I hope somebody over there is paying attn to the current state…it would be great if they could get it together and go after them.
        I really thought after LM’s death the whole thing would blow wide open…here we are in 2014. Granted, so far, 2014 is turning out to be very bad year for Slappy & Co. I just want something huge to happen & for things to explode in a very public way, NOW.

        • flyonthewall

          i’ve only been $cilon watching for like 1.5yrs and I’m getting impatient! Kudos to you for sticking with it for so long 🙂 It will pay off!

          • Frodis73

            I’m just impatient…others have been watching & waiting a lot longer than I have too. Just one of those days-money lets you get away with anything including murder. There day will come…that’s my mantra on a day like today when I want to slap slappy.

            • flyonthewall

              i’ll drink to literally, cya!

            • Barbara Angel

              Ditto, I’ve been watching since TD went after Mr Sweeney in 2007 and like you I want them shut down **NOW**. a helpful quote from my deceased grandmother.
              “All good things come to those who wait”.
              At last the beast is thrashing its tale in its death throes, but its taken *Such* a long time and good people continue to be harmed daily. Grrrrrrrrr

          • Baby

            Fly I love your avi.. Who is it? I keep forgetting to ask..

            • Jack Parsons, renowned rocket scientist, Aleister Crowley era occultist as well as friend and victim of Hubbs. I bought a documentary about him.

            • Baby

              Oh thank you Nat.. I knew I saw it somewhere and couldn’t remember.. Yep..You are right! xo

      • Free Minds, Free Hearts

        I think that is a good point, Fly. IRS caved in because they couldn’t afford to fight the thousands of lawsuits.

    • SOL

      If Dante were writing “Inferno” today, it would have to be an open-ended series, with frequent addenda and special editions.

      • Frodis73


    • kemist

      Reading these, I’m surprised that there relatively are so few deaths at their facilities.

      The one about the guy who was confiscated his BP Rx, and had to escape to go to the ER was terrifying.

      • Frodis73

        I know, right? It really is a damn miracle more ppl have not died in their “care”.

      • Frodis73

        I wish I was rich-I’d love to enter one these places with a hidden cam. It would be so great to capture all the bs on video.

  • Sandy

    Howdy. ( I hate orange) Twins. got this.

    Oops. Nvm

    • Captain Howdy

      Orange is my favorite color after black. And i hope the Giants give y’all a shellacking.

      • SOL

        Ha! I’m watching the game now! A “wild and wacky” first inning, Giants up 3 – 0! Man, I miss AT&T Park. Beautiful place to watch a game.

        • Sandy

          Come -on … The Twins are

          • SOL

            The American League is terra incognita for me. (4 – 2 Giants, btm of 4th)

      • Baby

        Trivia.. Orange was Frank Sinatra’s favorite color..

    • jeff

      Giiants up, three to zip.

  • Sydjazz

    Sydney org. More staff than public. Ughh.wait did the guy in the sauna pass out? Where the bloody hell are you was from a failed australian tourism ad. About 5 years ago….i am soo embarrased.

    • Barbara Angel

      Ditto, ‘where the bloody hell are you’ ad was a shocker. How dumb to use a failed ad. Just guessing that all the *alleged* staff have been photoshopped.

    • Robert Eckert

      “Where the bloody hell are you ” emphasizes that nobody is going there.

  • noseinabk

    Do scions bother to celebrate each others birthdays?

  • Scooter

    – Sydney “Org” has raised a few of the “dead” to fill some staff positions.
    I count less than 70 people in that final shot of the staff – a lot of very young kids and a smattering of old-timers that I’ve worked with. That’s about 130 less than they’re “supposed” to have to run an Ideal Org – hah!!!
    Front and center are Rosy Lemon, Vicki Diggins, Maria Silva-Greenslade and Florence Rongo. Chad Tippapart and Kim Fitzgerald are there too, along with Norm O’Leary. All o-l-d-timers.
    Give it 6 months and the staff number will be half off what’s there now and the disappointment factor will have crueld most of the remainder – the $cientology brand has been successfully smashed in Sydney and they’ll starve to death organizationally. Sad to see old friends still among the living dead.

  • Baby

    Attention Bury..

    You know how loaded I got with you at the bar ( Crabbys) that is how loaded I am right now..Went out with my nephew… Let’s just say I’m sleeping in tomorrow… xox

    • Frodis73

      Baby’s hitting the sauce again, lol. Was going to ask if you were going to post anymore flagdown reviews, but I will leave you to your “buzz”!

      • Captain Howdy

        Someone needs to call DYS. This has gone too far

        • Baby

          Hahahahha OMG don’t tell Troy he worries about me! What a blast I’m having Howdy.. I forgot how much fun I am..

          Plus Bury started this whole damn thing.. It’s all her fault.. Plus I’m hungry now.. hmmm.. tomorrow Pot.. ( The last time I smoked pot was in the early 70s ..I don’t trust the shit that is out there now.. ; /

          • Baby

            Nat…bawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwhahhaha.. Yep that’s me! I’m still standing 27 yr old nephew is snoozin away..

            Can’t stay up with the Big Dogs..

            • Love ya, Baby

            • Baby

              I love you too sweet Nat… xoxox

      • Baby

        OMG … Yes. I will post more FD.. I will write about each speaker if you guys don’t care..I always think I’m takin away from Tony’s posts..

        that is why I post late.. Well that and Good God what is with the beer? Jeeze Louise Dog.

  • media_lush

    thought I’d share this little bit that kind of intriqued me on my blog…. I have one page from back in January that has got massive traffic to it in the past couple of days… no idea why…. this was the header for it:


    • Robert Eckert

      Maybe the puffy post-op appearance of Cruise in recent pics has sparked a renewed “Tom Cruise is dead” spate of rumors.

    • richelieu jr

      “Tom Cruise Dead?”

      Aw, you’re just saying that to make me feel good!

  • Baby

    Happy Birthday Big Guy.. Had I not been out celebrating ( I forget why) I would have remembered.. baby xo

    EDIT ..refresh.. and I did it twice cause..uhm …You are twice the man I dreamed of.. hahahha That doesn’t make any sense.. but what the shit..

  • Well, this meteor shower is a bust. I’m going to sleep. Night.

    • Baby

      Night honey.. sleep tight…

  • Pierrot

    celebrate Tony’s birthday
    tea & caek is served at wwp where a
    whack a $cilon game is in progress
    Come and join us go for BLUEs.

    DON’T route out, BLOW, Get HELP, get OUT. CALL 1-866-XSEAORG

    Ty AP

  • DodoTheLaser

    Got you a little virtual present, Tony.
    Wishing you and the cats long happy life!
    And thank you for all the hard work.

  • Happy Birthday, Tony.

    Oh, and well done to Richard for not signing a gag order. That’s how it’s done. The days of the criminal organisation known as the “church” of $cientology buying silence when they should right wrongs are drawing to a close. (Not that this stops them from trying, as David Love is finding out.)

    Not only is the “offloader debt” unenforceable, gag orders are no longer required. Sue the criminal organisation now before the idle mOrgues are sold off to pay compensation to those who got to court first.

  • DodoTheLaser

    For early listeners.

    Jefferson Hawkins Surviving Scientology Radio Episode 6

  • DodoTheLaser


    The Largest Org On The Planet Is… THE INTERNET

    “Currently, the largest org on the planet is the internet in terms of number of persons doing courses”

  • chuckbeattyexseaorg75to03


    You are doing an unbelievable job navigating the related Scientology stories and people!

    I can tell you MOST writers/researchers and even psych really smart people, threw up their hands in dismay and confusion over how difficult it is to patiently write the full story.

    So many great writers, I have to thanks ALL media, for all time, and scholars and researchers and the great “amateur” outsiders who have bothered to pick the Scientology history and people carefully into the public domain.

    You are doing an incredible, unprecedented close coverage like never in this movement’s and the people’s who will talk about it, history!

    Can’t thank you enough for being such a good mensch!

    Always the best to you!

    Chuck Beatty

  • Mary_McConnell

    Kudos to Richard Teague and his attorney Jeffrey Ray for standing up to these people! Narconon is a dangerous program and A Forever Recovery, using the Narconon model of quick detox, is equally bad. I am so thankful you made it out of there and grateful that you allowed your story to be heard by others. I wish you the best, Richard!

    Thanks again, Tony, for going the extra mile in helping us expose Narconon

    PS, this thread has more derails than Amtrak!

  • Hamtaro


    JJ is down in Boston, so no chowder available.
    Wash D.C. got boiled in a clambake by the Red-X day crew today.
    Two major metro areas, both cleared of clams.
    MIghty SPs, clearing Craigslist, one city at a time…

    Time for the Red-X night crew to show their stuff.

    4 new LA ads:*%22%7C%22818+772+7949%22%7C%2221010+devonshire%22%7C%22913+116+126%22%7C%7C%229*5+fu*bright%22
    3 new Phoenix ads:*%7Cdianeti*%7C%223875+n*+44th%22%7C%22702+409+8296%22%7C%22602+954+1417%22
    5 new San Fran ads:*+winc*%22%7C%221083+s+winc*%22%7C%7C%22249+7400%22%7C%22650+sara*%22%7C%22650+400+4729%22%7C%221080+linda+v*%22%7C%22428+2424%22%7C%22383+9400%22%7C%22479+4808%22%7C%221865+lundy%22%7C%22568+6427%22

    Dolly did a great job picking up on Sacramento’s “reposting” scam. So here’s one EZ link list so you can flag all 7 Sacramento ads that were posted/reposted in the last 24 hours:

    (Note: Scn is “updating” old ads in many areas to purposefully confuse us. Check at the bottom, all these ads were renewed less than 24 hours ago. The ads say, for example: posted: 2 months ago updated: 4 hours ago)

    What time is it? Time to Red-X the West Coast!