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Scientology begins hitting back at Ryan Hamilton and his lawsuits

Ryan Hamilton gets some blowback!

Ryan Hamilton gets some blowback!

We have some legal updates, and they involve several different filings from attorneys for Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon, as it begins to hit back at the 16 federal lawsuits filed by Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton.

Hamilton’s strategy has been consistent and simple: His lawsuits allege that Narconon’s business model is essentially deceptive in nature. Prospective patients and their families are told that they’ll receive drug counseling delivered in a safe setting with medical professionals, and that Narconon’s sauna-and-vitamins regimen is safe, effective (with 76 percent and higher success rates), and based on scientific purposes.

In fact, none of that is true. Patients are given Scientology training, not drug counseling, the facilities are staffed by recent “graduates,” not medical personnel, and even one of Narconon’s own experts admitted that there was no science behind the “detoxification” claims of the risky sauna program.

In each lawsuit, Hamilton has sued the local facility where former patients say they were defrauded (in Nevada, California, and Colorado), as well as the parent organization Narconon International, and its parent, Scientology’s Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), which is staffed by Scientology “Sea Org” workers.

Now, Narconon International and ABLE have filed a motion to dismiss themselves from one of the lawsuits, making use of a classic Scientology strategy: We have nothing to do with anything.

Narconon International and ABLE “do not manage, supervise or monitor the day to day operations of Narconon Fresh Start or the Caliente, Nevada center,” says the motion.


The motion goes on to list all the ways Narconon International and ABLE have nothing to do with Nevada in general and the Rainbow Canyon Retreat in Caliente in particular.

The two organizations, the filing claims, simply license the name “Narconon” to rehab facilities, and they make it sound like there’s almost no other contact with them.

Funny, that’s not what we hear.

Former Scientologist Marc Headley is well known for his experiences working at Scientology’s secretive “International Base,” which was the basis for his gripping book, Blown for Good. But before he worked at Int Base, Headley also spent some of his time in the Sea Org working at ABLE, specifically in its oversight of the Narconon centers.

We asked him about the connections between ABLE and the rehab system.

“The Narconon relationship and the way they’re run is almost identical to the ‘orgs’ and the management echelons of Scientology,” he told us last night by telephone. “Narconons are basically orgs for ABLE. Just like you have RTC controlling the licenses for Scientology, ABLE is the RTC of the social betterment programs like Narconon and Applied Scholastics.”

(The Religious Technology Center, RTC, is the nominally controlling entity of the Scientology organization, licensing founder L. Ron Hubbard’s “technology” to the Scientology churches, which are known as “orgs.”)

“We actually had a post called the Narconon Consultant, who would go to Narconon International on Wednesday night, and stay there all night to get the stats up by Thursday at 2 pm. And you’d have guys from Narconon International going to the individual Narconons to get their stats up,” Headley says.

“When I was at ABLE, this guy Jeff Pomerantz (an actor who does all of Scientology’s voice-overs) shot a video, a little news video, with the help of the people at ABLE, so we could play it for Kirstie Alley and get her to donate $300,000 for Narconon Chilocco. That money went to ABLE, but it was for Narconon Chilocco,” he says, referring to the facility that eventually became Narconon Arrowhead, the rehab system’s flagship facility in eastern Oklahoma.

We asked him if, in his experience, ABLE and Narconon International monitored and controlled what was happening at the individual rehab centers.

“Absolutely. It’s micromanage control,” he says. “Every week the local Narconon center is telling Narconon Int, we got $400,000 in service revenue, and then Narconon International is reporting the total revenue for all centers to ABLE, and the guys at ABLE are telling them to push the insurance claims and bring in even more money,” he says. “It’s managed down the line on a week by week basis. I guarantee you, if one of these places tried to go its own way, within days International would be calling, asking them what the hell was going on.”

And at major yearly events, church leader David Miscavige makes it clear in his speeches that the Narconon network is a priority for Scientology, using graphics that demonstrate that the network’s connections and expansion are very consciously organized.

But when it’s in trouble, as we’ve seen in so many other cases, Scientology points to its corporate structure in order to give the impression that there’s no hierarchy or control at all. It’s a convenient fiction.

Here’s the motion to dismiss itself…


Geanacopulos v. Narconon: NNInt and ABLE Motion to Dismiss

To support the motion, Narconon also filed a couple of affidavits — one submitted by Narconon International president Clark Carr, and the other by ABLE vice president Rubina Qureshi.

Hang on, did we say ABLE president Rubina Qureshi? (No — “vice” and “president” are on separate lines, and we originally only saw the one. She is listed as vice president.)

So why is the vice president speaking for ABLE? Why not its president?

Those of you who have been with us for several years may understand why that gives us a shock of recognition.

Rena_WeinbergTwo years ago, we wrote about the mysterious disappearance of ABLE president Rena Weinberg. Eyewitness accounts placed her in Scientology’s notorious internal prison for executives, “The Hole,” from at least 2007 to 2012. (One of those witnesses was former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, who was in the Hole himself and saw her there.)

We’ve talked to numerous former church members who say they were alarmed by Weinberg’s disappearance from ABLE, and tried in vain to get information about her whereabouts.

Seeing Rubina listed as VP reminds us of ABLE’s missing president. And the question remains: Where’s Rena Weinberg?

We move on to another filing in the Hamilton lawsuits, in this case an order from the federal court in California. In the Estrada lawsuit, the parties have been told to come to court ready to work things out on August 26 in what’s called an “early neutral evaluation conference.”

We’re told that this is a standard procedure in this particular court, and that there’s a good chance this lawsuit could be settled at that meeting. Before some of you start groaning, keep in mind that the chances of any of Hamilton’s lawsuits actually resulting in a trial are exceedingly slim. All of them will either get dismissed through Scientology’s lawyering, or will get settled.

Our experts tell us that Scientology settling, and writing a check to make the case go away, will not necessarily be a beneficial thing for the church — word will go out that there’s gold in them thar hills, and the likelihood of even more lawsuits will only rise.

If there’s a settlement on August 26, we should be able to find out pretty quickly, but we likely won’t learn anything about the amount of money that’s agreed to change hands.

And finally, we have a robust motion to dismiss filed by the Nevada facility, Rainbow Canyon Retreat, in the Yates lawsuit. We’ll let our lawyerly types give us their thoughts about the arguments made in this document in our comment section, but here’s our favorite line…

“It would be difficult for [the patient] to claim he was unaware of the nature of the Fresh Start program or its origin and purpose,” the filing says.

Yeah, right. Except for the part that prospective patients are never told about the real nature of the program — that it’s Scientology training, not drug counseling — or that there’s no scientific basis for the high success rates and the sauna program. Other than that, things couldn’t be more plain!


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 10, 2014 at 09:20

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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, 44, 45, 46, 47

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

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