Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Witness: Compton scam rehab was a special Scientology project — how high does it go?


[An undated photo of the co-founders of American Health and Education Clinics and also operators of the World Literacy Crusade, Hanan Islam and Rev. Alfreddie Johnson Jr.]

Yesterday, we told you that Eric Tenorio, a former official with Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon, had an eyewitness account that confirmed that the rehab facility being run out of the World Literacy Crusade in Compton, California was an official and licensed enterprise of the Church of Scientology itself.

On Thursday, we revealed that at least six of the counselors at the Compton rehab facility, including its co-founder, Hanan Islam, are facing felony Medi-Cal fraud charges after a yearlong investigation by the state’s Bureau of Medi-Cal and Elder Abuse, an investigation that also ousted three prominent educators in the Compton Unified School District for supplying students to Islam’s clinic as part of the scam.

Since we broke that story, we’ve been talking to sources about the Church of Scientology’s involvement with the rehab facility. We do not know if the state agency is going to investigate or pursue charges against anyone at the church itself. And we want to emphasize that the founder of World Literacy Crusade himself, Rev. Alfreddie Johnson Jr., has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

But Tenorio’s eyewitness testimony — that WLC’s rehab, American Health and Educations Clinics, sent a course supervisor to Scientology’s flagship rehab center, Narconon Arrowhead, where he worked — made him certain that the clinic was licensed by Scientology’s front groups Narconon International or the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE).

Today we have another eyewitness account, from someone who worked at Narconon International. Kathy Nather Thomas was Narconon International’s senior case supervisor, which made her the top technical person for every Narconon center in the world. It was her job to make sure that every facility licensed by Narconon International provided the Narconon program — which was drawn from the Scientology teachings of founder L. Ron Hubbard — with precision and accuracy. Narconon International in turn answered to ABLE, which was staffed only with Sea Org workers, and which oversees all of Scientology’s “social betterment” front groups. Thomas left the Church of Scientology at the end of 2012.


She tells us she remembers that around the year 2009, about five years after Hanan Islam and Alfreddie Johnson founded American Health and Education Clinics at the World Literacy Crusade, a man from ABLE came to see her at Narconon International, bringing with him an African-American man (not Rev. Johnson).

Kathy remembers the man from ABLE — Paul Nolan — was an active fundraiser for Criminon, the ABLE front group that gets Scientology into the country’s prisons.

She says that the duo came to Narconon International asking for guidance about starting up a withdrawal service in the Inglewood area.

“Mr. Nolan showed up with the guy that they wanted us to help. So immediately I knew it was an ABLE thing, because he’s an ABLE guy,” Kathy tells us. “But it wasn’t an ABLE project. He said it was an ‘outside’ thing, an outside project of ABLE. That was OK. But then he said he wanted us to train this guy to do withdrawal.”

Kathy explains why that was a stunning request. Narconon is a non-medication approach to drug addiction. It’s not really set up to handle someone in the throes of heavy drug withdrawal. For years, Narconon centers would send withdrawing addicts to local hospitals to dry out before beginning the program. In more recent years, Narconons have opened their own medical detox units to handle that withdrawal period. But that wasn’t what was being suggested here.

“What are you talking about? I thought. I could just imagine this guy trying to help someone in withdrawal. What if he ODs?” Kathy says.

Kathy tells us this story because she says it points out how Narconon activity in that area of Los Angeles was being done through ABLE and not through her group, Narconon International. She concludes that the clinic at World Literacy Crusade must also have been a special ABLE project, or she would have been involved in monitoring it — and she wasn’t.

Kathy also pointed out something to us after she saw yesterday’s story about Eric Tenorio’s experience with Narconon Arrowhead — that World Literacy Crusade sent a case supervisor for training to Arrowhead, and that Tenorio himself was sent to inspect the facility in Compton. Kathy says that’s very significant, because, she says, Narconon Arrowhead, as the massive flagship facility in the network (at least then, today it’s on fumes), had “special lines” that had nothing to do with Narconon International or ABLE.

“This could have been a Gold project,” she says. “For this heavy of an Arrowhead connection, it could have come directly from Gold. It didn’t necessarily have to go through ABLE.”

By “Gold,” Kathy is referring to the International Base, Scientology’s secretive world management headquarters at a 500-acre compound near Hemet, California. It’s also known as “Gold Base” or “Gold” to Scientologists because it houses the studios for Golden Era Productions, which puts out Scientology’s many audiovisual products. It’s also a place where Scientology leader David Miscavige lives and works.

Former Gold employee Marc Headley was at the base around this time — he didn’t escape until 2005. We asked him if he knew anything about David Miscavige being involved in ordering a drug rehab center being developed for Alfreddie Johnson’s World Literacy Crusade. (Five years earlier, in 1999, Miscavige had given Johnson a “Freedom Medal” for his work at World Literacy Crusade, which at that time was disseminating L. Ron Hubbard’s “study technology” to inner-city youth.)

Headley doesn’t remember hearing about the clinic. (If you were at Gold at the time and did hear about it, we’d like to talk to you.) But he does point out how important Rev. Alfreddie Johnson was to Miscavige.

“We were always filming that guy. And he was at every event at the Celebrity Centre. Alfreddie is David Miscavige’s line to the African-American community,” Headley says.

In the mid-1990s, Johnson had recruited singer Isaac Hayes to Scientology. Jason Beghe, an actor and former Scientologist who was featured in Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear, has told us that Hayes pressed Miscavige: Why aren’t there more black people in Scientology? (Beghe said he told Miscavige the same thing.)

“Alfreddie was the guy who was going to bring the African-American community into the church,” Headley says. So he got unusual access to Miscavige, and special treatment.

Can Miscavige be directly tied to Alfreddie Johnson and Hanan Islam founding American Health and Education Clinics? If you have information that would tie them together, we want to hear from you.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story dated the incident Kathy Thomas witnessed too early. In fact, it took place after 2008, and involved a withdrawal service in the Inglewood area. That incident convinces Thomas that the World Literacy Crusade clinic was an ABLE project, not that she was approached by ABLE about the World Literacy Crusade clinic itself — Ed.


Karen de la Carrier on Fair Game

Karen concludes her series on Scientology’s retaliation schemes.



Bonus photos from our tipsters

There are still a few days in 2015 for you to send us all your money! Note the Youth for Human Rights pamphlet in this woman’s hands. Thanks, Legoland.




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 December 19, 2015 at 07:15

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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email