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Another Scientology rehab death — and why this one is particularly bad for David Miscavige


Just a couple of weeks ago, we were telling you that Scientology leader David Miscavige was responding to the difficulties faced by the church’s drug rehab network, Narconon, by relaunching it. While numerous Narconon facilities have been hit with lawsuits over patient deaths and other claims of harm and dishonest dealing, Miscavige was opening new centers around the world, and was reshuffling management of the network so that it was more tightly controlled by Scientology through one of its subsidiaries, the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE).

That plan has already backfired in a tragic way.

The Underground Bunker has learned that on November 6, a woman who worked for a Scientology drug rehab facility in Texas was found dead in Los Angeles where she had been undergoing special training with ABLE for the Narconon relaunch.

Tabatha Lynn Fauteux was just 26 years old when she was found unconscious in her shower at the apartment where she was being housed during her several weeks of training.


“This has been a real tough one,” Tabatha’s father Guy Fauteux, 52, told us by telephone this week from Hudson, New Hampshire as his family prepared for Tabatha’s “celebration of life” on Saturday. He said that her remains had been returned to the family the week before, and on Tuesday there had been a small wake.

Fauteux was unhappy that Narconon had not contacted him about his daughter’s death — he learned about it from one of Tabatha’s friends.

“I have another daughter in Texas going through the program,” he told us. “It seemed to work so well for the first one, we thought, let’s do it again. She’s here now, and she’s supposed to go back after Thanksgiving, and they’ve been calling her every day to make sure she’s going back.”

Fauteux said he hadn’t really had time to think about whether his other daughter should return to the Texas program.

We sent a detailed message about Tabatha Fauteux’s death to the Church of Scientology. If we get a response, we’ll add it to this story.

At his Facebook page, Fauteux has replaced his profile with a photograph of his daughter standing near an old car awaiting restoration.

“Old school rat rods. My daughter Tabatha really enjoyed doing that with me. We’d talk about what we’ve done to our cars,” he said.

Guy and his wife Sheila have six children, all but one are daughters. Tabatha was their third child.

“The first three were girls, then the boy. And nine years after that, the oops. Twin girls,” he said. “Tabatha was a breeze. She didn’t have to study. She read it once and she had it locked in.”

Fauteux said his daughter’s drug issues began with painkillers that she had been taking as a teenager for a stomach problem. “We sent her to Job Corps in Maine to get her back on the straight line. It wasn’t like she was a punk, she was just trying to fit in, I think.”

Tabatha worked in the medical field, and she worked as a caretaker for a paraplegic patient, Fauteux said. “She really liked to help people.” But then, her drug problems worsened as she picked up a heroin habit.

“She got really sick here. We started looking for different places she could be treated. And we ended up sending her to Arizona. A three-day detox before you go into a facility. She never even made it to the detox. We lost her in the streets of Phoenix. My wife drove out there to Tabatha’s last known address, and found her there. That’s when we sent her to Narconon. She was down to 80 pounds,” he said.

“She was dating a boy, and he had gone through Narconon in California,” he added. Like many other Narconon patients who finish the program, the young man had been offered a job to work on the facility’s staff. (Narconon tells prospective patients that it employs medical personnel, but instead it hires recently dried-out addicts, who work for low pay.) Fauteux says that because Tabatha’s friend was working in California, Narconon made the decision to send her to the south end of Texas in the city of Harlingen. And after she completed the program, she too was offered work.

“The initial treatment was last year. It went well. She started making a paycheck out there,” Fauteux said.

Between her treatment and then her job working on the Harlingen Narconon staff, Tabatha had been clean for 16 months, which her father considered a huge accomplishment. She was doing so well, apparently, she was selected to represent the Harlingen center as Narconon workers from around the country were brought by Scientology to one of its world headquarters, Los Angeles.

“They’re doing something new, I guess? So they took her to California for training. She was supposed to go back to Texas after that,” Fauteux said. “She was only supposed to be in California for three weeks. She was actually there for five weeks, then she was going back to Texas to train people there on the new thing.”

In our story two weeks ago, we reported that Narconon was undergoing major changes as Scientology leader David Miscavige responded to the network’s vulnerability to lawsuits and negative press attention. A former Narconon official told us that Miscavige had essentially eliminated Narconon International, the former umbrella group that licensed the rehab centers, and had realigned the network under ABLE, which is staffed entirely with Scientology Sea Org workers, who sign billion-year contracts and work around the clock for pennies an hour. These super-dedicated and no-nonsense administrators were tightening Scientology’s grip on Narconon. The former official said that whole staffs were turning over as some Narconon workers wanted nothing to do with the new, stricter regime.

Tabatha Fauteux was flown to California to learn directly from ABLE what would be expected from Scientology as the Harlingen Narconon was brought into compliance. She was housed at the Oakwood Apartments at 3600 Barham Boulevard in the Toluca Lake section of Los Angeles, just 3.5 miles from ABLE’s headquarters on Hollywood Boulevard.

The Oakwood Apartments are well known for being used as temporary corporate housing, including crews in town filming movies — the complex is often listed on places to spot movie stars.

Guy Fauteux says that about two weeks before Tabatha’s death, and a few weeks into her training, she started to get the hard sell about becoming a Scientologist from a church official who took her and the young man she was dating at the time for a ride in his car. “Thanks, but no thanks, she told him. Then things got really hard on her training. There were long hours,” Fauteux said.

Then, about a week after that pitch, a Scientology employee approached Tabatha and her boyfriend telling them about an herbal drug he wanted to share with them, Fauteux said. “He said it gave the high of heroin, but it was over-the-counter and undetectable.”

Fauteux said he learned what Tabatha was given is called “Kratom,” a substance derived from the mitragyna speciosa tree, which is native to parts of Southeast Asia. It is not illegal to possess, and drug users often claim that it is completely safe and doesn’t show up in drug tests. But in a study of deaths associated with Kratom, researchers reporting in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology said that the leaf itself was not what endangered users…

Herbal drugs have always been popular because of their natural origin, and they are often thought of as safe alternatives to synthetic drugs. However, in recent years, several preparations sold as herbal drugs have actually been plant material spiked with synthetic active compounds.

Fauteux says his daughter used Kratom twice. The second time, her boyfriend found her unconscious in her shower with a needle nearby.

“Nobody called us from Narconon to tell us that she passed. One of her friends called us. They said it was [her boyfriend’s] fault. She had met him in Texas. He had been in and out of Narconon five different times,” Fauteux said. “But how could it be his fault when you knew he was that weak and you put them together?”

Fauteux said that his daughter had been talking about returning to New Hampshire to open her own drug rehab center after her training.

The Harlingen, Texas Narconon rehab center, like other Narconon facilities, claims a 70 percent success rate, which experts say is pure fantasy — legitimate drug rehab centers report success rates of closer to 20 to 25 percent. Narconon also gives patients no drug counseling, but instead puts them through the same kinds of exercises that new Scientologists experience when they first join the church. Fauteux told us that he’s become aware of those characteristics of the Narconon program.

He told us that he looked forward to talking more with us in the future. We’re looking forward to that as well. We’re particularly interested in what Fauteux will hear from Scientology, now that its celebrated Narconon 2.0 has already produced its first death.

In the meantime, Guy Fauteux’s Facebook page is now showing the photographs from Saturday’s celebration as the French-Canadian Fauteux clan gathered in New Hampshire this weekend to remember Tabatha.


FHCabanasBabywatch, day five: Lisa McPherson in Room 174

Dr. Janis Johnson, the senior medical officer at the Fort Harrison Hotel, had been assigned by Alain Kartuzinski to manage the caretakers keeping an eye on Lisa McPherson during her babywatch.

Johnson had been licensed as a medical doctor in Michigan in 1984, and worked at hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona with a specialty in anesthesiology. In 1992, however, the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners began an investigation of Johnson over allegations that she had been pocketing powerful painkiller medicine that was supposed to go to patients, and was instead injecting it into a catheter in her bladder for long-term treatment of a painful and chronic foot problem. As the investigation grew and depositions were taken, Johnson agreed to end the investigation by promising never to practice medicine again.

She was not licensed to practice medicine in Florida when she moved to Clearwater and began working at the Fort Harrison Hotel in the Sea Organization. Police investigating Lisa McPherson’s death found out about Johnson’s dubious record as a doctor. But when she was initially interviewed, she was not exactly forthcoming.

Johnson: I actually quit medicine in early ’93.
Det. Sudler: OK. So you quit practicing in early ’93?
Johnson: Uh Huh.
Det. Sudler: OK. And I guess would you refer to yourself as retired now from the practice or..?
Johnson: Well, I just did other things.
Det. Sudler: OK. OK.
Johnson: I wouldn’t say I retired. I just … you know … went on and did other things that I was interested in.
Det. Sudler: Change of profession.
Johnson: Yes, change of profession. That’s a good way to put it.

As Lisa’s babywatch began, Janis had been checking in with the caretakers, asking about how Lisa had been eating or sleeping.

She learned that when Lisa did eat, she seemed to like tuna fish sandwiches. So Janis instructed the kitchen staff to be prepared to make one, any time of the day or night.

She had heard that Lisa had gotten violent, and had really thrashed around for several minutes, kicking a dresser at one point. On Wednesay, November 22, 1995 — the day before Thanksgiving — Janis stopped into the room long enough to notice that Lisa was showing a nasty bruise on her upper arm. (On Thanksgiving itself, there were no records kept of Lisa’s condition that have survived.)

“It kind of looked like a one- or two-day old bruise is what I remember seeing. You know how it looks kind of purplish first and then it goes to a brownish color, and you kind of tell how long it’s been by looking at it,” she later told police.

Janis kept her visits to check on the other caretakers very short. For some reason, Lisa had the idea that Janis was an “evil psych,” and whenever Janis was in the room, Lisa would get very agitated.


Jonny Jacobsen checks in from Brussels

On the eve of the criminal prosecution of Scientology starting up again in Belgium, our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, sent us this dispatch…

I’m writing this sitting on the Thalys, the Paris-Brussels express train which, as you might imagine, is a little light on passengers this evening.

Brussels is just finishing its third day on maximum alert over fears of a terrorist attack, so no one is likely to be lingering at the station when we get into Brussels Midi in an hour or so.

But even if most of the shops were closed over the weekend; even if the Christmas market shut down and the streets were virtually deserted; even if the schools stayed closed Monday; the courts are still up and running.

On Tuesday, the prosecutor will stand up and set out the charges against the defendants in the trial of Scientology which is accused of being a criminal organisation and of having committed a range of offenses, from extortion to the illegal practice of medicine.

The key question is: what kind of sanction is he going to call for? Given the seriousness of the charges he can, in theory at least, call for the dissolution of the organization and even the seizure of its assets.

How far down that road he is prepared to go remains be seen, but in the early days of the trial, the prosecutor Christophe Caliman, who has followed the investigation for 18 years now, did not strike me as someone in the mood for the compromise. And the feeling is mutual, it would seem: Scientology’s lawyers have filed a complaint against him with a UN body alleging “egregious” human rights violations.

The other question to be answered is, will Caliman himself be fit to deliver his closing arguments?

For those of you who haven’t been following the trial, in the week between the first four days of the trial (Oct 26-30) and Day Five (November 9), Caliman fell ill. It was sufficiently serious for him to be signed off sick for two weeks or so, which is why the calendar was pushed back to November 24.

When Judge Yves Régimont reorganised the calendar, he made it clear that either Caliman himself, or his colleague Jean-Pascal Thoreau, would have to deliver for the prosecution come Tuesday.

Thoreau is an experienced prosecutor: he handled a major match-fixing trial last year and is sufficiently well regarded to act as the spokesman for the federal prosecutors office. But as he himself made clear when he broke the news of his colleague’s illness earlier this month, he was attending this trial more as technical support for his colleague.

As redoubtable as he is — he gave as good as he got during some procedural clashes with the defense lawyers last month — he has no wish to be the one to sum up 18 years of investigation in a trial that has merged two major investigations into a single trial. And who can blame him?

I’ll be in the courtroom on Tuesday and between sessions I’ll tweet the main points. And when I get a breather, I’ll file a summary for the Bunker.

Over the coming weeks too, I’ll keep filing the proceedings from earlier in the trial, which has some very interesting material not covered in the daily press reports. (My apologies for the delay, but the coverage of the Paris attacks and one or two other matters have taken up a lot of my time.)

And I will also be in court over the next two weeks for the defense arguments, which are at least as important as Tuesday’s presentation.

You can catch up on my coverage so far here.

— Jonny Jacobsen



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 23, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com 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 cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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