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Attorney for Scientology’s drug rehab centers threatens lawyer running anti-Narconon website

Jonathan Little

Jonathan Little

Another day, another threat letter.

On Wednesday, we shared with you the latest threat letter Karen de la Carriere received from Scientology attorney Bert Deixler. Today, we have a salvo from Los Angeles attorney William H. Forman, who represents some Narconon entities, complaining about a website operated by Jonathan Little.

We’ve told you about Little in the past. He’s an attorney in Indianapolis handling several lawsuits against Narconon facilities. He’s just one of several attorneys around the country handling cases involving Scientology’s troubled drug rehab network, with no sign of its troubles subsiding soon.

We’ve been watching Narconon turn into a disaster for Scientology for the last five years, ever since we took the advice of Carnegie Mellon professor Dave Touretzky and started looking into the 2008 death of Patrick Desmond at the illegal and unlicensed housing unit of a Narconon facility in the Atlanta area. What a wild journey it’s been since then as we’ve watched lawsuits pop up all over the place after more deaths at Narconon facilities and other mishaps. And thanks to attorneys like Jeff Harris, Ryan Hamilton, and Jonathan Little and the activist David Edgar Love, we’ve learned a lot about Narconon’s deceptive business practices. Like, for example, that it was always only a front for Scientology, controlled by Scientology, and, most importantly, its purpose was to feed money to Scientology.

We can’t emphasize it enough to families looking for a place to put their loved one for addiction counseling: Narconon tells prospective clients that it delivers individualized drug counseling in a safe environment staffed by medical professionals. Instead, it’s only after patients arrive (and their parents have forked over tens of thousands of dollars) that the truth emerges — there is no drug counseling at Narconon, only Scientology training, and instead of medical professionals, the staff is made up of recent ‘graduates’ who are struggling to stay clean themselves.

That’s a pretty stark difference, and one that numerous attorneys have realized make the Narconon system vulnerable. Jonathan Little operates a website that helps him find new clients who have horror stories after their own experiences with the Narconon bait and switch. And in January, he received a threat letter from Forman, which Little has forwarded on to us.


“That’s how people find us,” Little tells us about the website. “They hate it because it’s in the top ten search results on Google. I’m getting more than one inquiry a day. I can’t keep up with them,” he says.

Keeping that in mind, here’s the letter Forman sent in January…


Dear Mr. Little:

William Forman

William Forman

I am writing to you in your capacity as the self-described owner/operator of the website (“Website”). The Website contains actionable, non-privileged false, misleading, and defamatory statements. I am requesting on behalf of my clients Narconon Fresh Start and Narconon International that you cease operation of the Website immediately.

You have been litigating these matters for some time now, and you must now know that the Website is rife with untrue statements. I point to the following statements as illustrations:

“Patients are coerced into signing an acknowledgement that the sauna program is not, in fact, a medical treatment, but is actually an educational program.” Also, “Narconon requires students to spend six hours per day for five weeks in a sauna at temperatures between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit.” I am not aware of anyone who has testified to such coercion. In fact, at least one of Mr. Hamilton’s clients (Koslow) testified that she did not want to do the sauna program, and was not required to do it. Furthermore, you have absolutely no basis to assert that students must spend “six hours per day for five weeks” in the sauna.

“Narconon uses a “bait and switch” tactic to prey on families in their time of need. When families truly need to get help for a loved one suffering from drug addiction, Narconon offers pseudo-science and potentially dangerous treatment methods. Worst of all, patients and families do not find out about Narconon’s methods until patients are already in the program.” You know that the Narconon program is, where required, licensed by state health agencies as drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and that the Narconon program has received CARF accreditation. You thus know it is false to say that Narconon is just a “bait and switch” and does not offer drug addiction treatment. You also know it is false to say that persons do not know about the content of the Narconon program until they enter the program. The content and structure of the program are described at Fresh Start’s and Narconon International’s websites, and in the admission materials.

“In 2004, a California school study concluded that Narconon’s program did not reflect medically and scientifically based practices and that it offered students misleading information about drug use and abuse.” Aside from falsely stating that a “study” “concluded” anything about Narconon’s educational program, you misleadingly imply that the “study” in question concerned Narconon’s drug rehabilitation program. You know that it did not.

“In one 2005 report scientific experts stated that Narconon’s treatment methods ‘does not reflect accurate, widely accepted medical and scientific evidence.'” [Sic.] There is no “2005 report” where “scientific experts” issued any conclusions or findings on the Narconon drug treatment program.

“Narconon staff members have no formal training in healthcare, such as nursing, or in counseling.” Your co-counsel Mr. Hamilton has been provided with testimony and documentation of certifications that Narconon staff have received from third-party accreditation entities. Your statement about “no formal training” is false, and you have no basis to make such an assertion.

“Contrary to Narconon’s claims, there is no scientific evidence that its sauna program flushes residual drug toxins out of students’ fatty tissue. Nor is there any scientific evidence for Narconon’s premise underlying the sauna program: That residual drug toxin stored in fatty tissue leaked into the bloodstream and cause drug cravings.” Also, “All lawsuits speak of detoxification in hot saunas to flush residual drug toxins out of students’ fatty tissue even though there is no scientific evidence to support such treatment.”

Your fellow plaintiffs’ attorneys have been provided with stacks of literature regarding the efficacy of the sauna program, the flushing of drug toxins, and the reduction of drug cravings. Furthermore, numerous, unbiased witnesses have testified that the sauna made them feel much better and reduced their drug cravings. Deposition of Haley Matthews, at 19 (“The sauna helped a lot to get all of the toxins and stuff out of my body. I think that cravings were an issue that I was having and I know that that went away after sauna.”); Deposition of Jennifer Rankel, at 19 (“it [the sauna] gave me that — my whole life back basically.”); Deposition of Wendy Troendle, at 15 (“Q. Did the sauna program, as an addict trying to recover, help or hurt you? A. It helped me.”); Deposition of Parry Gaultney, at 16 (“Within the first two weeks, I noticed a huge difference in how much my cravings — like how bad they were and then by the end of the program, the sauna section, there was almost no cravings.”); Deposition of Rae Vroman, at 15 (“I remember it helped a lot with cravings. Towards the end of my sauna program, I wasn’t hardly craving drugs at all. And it helped me sleep a lot better. It just made me feel better overall with my body.”) Indeed, even Michael Tarr, one of the “clients” you feature on your website (though he is not actually your client) testified under oath,

Q. In the beginning you say, “Many people say that sauna changed their mindset and physical state after coming off heroin. I wasn’t sure if I totally believed them, but as of now, I can honestly attest to it greatly changing my physical and mental state.” is that a true statement?

A. Yeah.

Q. “I feel more clear now in my thoughts. I have a much easier time getting comfortable in any kind of environment I’m in.” Is that a true statement? Was that true when you wrote it?

A. Yes.

Q. And at the end you say there, “My sleep is back to normal as well as my energy. I can run up the stairs much faster, and my appetite is also back to normal. All I do is eat. I love it.” Were those true statements?

A. Yeah, they were.

(Michael Tarr Deposition, 147:2-148:15.) For you to say that there is “no scientific evidence” to support the sauna treatment is a statement you know to be false.

“[T]he rehab program is difficult to distinguish from indoctrination into Scientology.” In none of your cases or in any other case I am aware of has one single witness testified that he or she was indoctrinated into the Church of Scientology as a result of the Narconon program. Not one single witness has testified that they even know of someone who was indoctrinated into the Church of Scientology as a result of the program. Many witnesses have testified that Narconon staff arranged to take them to religious services of their choice. Your statements on this score are false.

“Narconon has published no studies or other verifiable evidence to support their claimed success rates.” Also, you state that Narconon’s claim of a 70 percent success rate “turned out to be false.” These are reckless and irresponsible statements. As you received my letter to Ryan Hamilton of October 29, 2015, you know for a fact that your website’s statements are false. See, Richard D. Lennox, et al., A Simplified Method for Routine Outcome Monitoring after Drug Abuse Treatment, 7 Subst. Abuse 155 (2013). Available at You are also aware that David Venemon, a former Narconon staffer who has cooperated with Plaintiffs in these actions, testified that he truthfully reported that, of the Narconon Program graduates he contacted, “287 are doing very well, only five have reverted to drugs and alcohol.” (Deposition of David Venemon, 212:1-5.) Your continued statements that Narconon has no evidence to support the success rate is false, as is your statement that the reported 70 percent success rate “turned out to be false.”

“Narconon is aware that students routinely become ill during the New Life Detoxification Program.” You have adduced no evidence of students “routinely” becoming ill. You know this is a false statement.

You also make some untrue statements about the Welch matter in particular. This is not surprising, as you are not counsel of record in the case (though I recall that you made a failed effort to appear pro hac vice in the case — Dkt. No. 86). You state, “The Welch lawsuit claims that staff members were abusing alcohol at the detox facility and there were no medical personnel at the facility though it was called ‘medical detox.'” You also state, “The lawsuit also alleges that during Jack’s time at Narconon Rainbow Canyon facility, two staff members had to be ‘quarantined off’ from patients because of their continued drug use. One staff member was smoking marijuana and the other crack cocaine.” These summaries of the Welch action are false. Those allegations do not appear in the operative complaint.

Finally, I note that your Website misleadingly claims as clients people that you do not represent. On the front page of your Website, there is a green button labeled, “Client Stories.” Clicking on this button directs to a page including information regarding 1) “numerous federal lawsuits against Narconon Fresh Start, doing business as Rainbow Canyon Retreat in Nevada,” 2) “two young men in their 20’s [who] died at a Narconon facility in Italy,” 3) “four patients [who] died” at the “Narconon Arrowhead, Oklahoma facility.” I am not aware that you are counsel of record in any action in Nevada, Oklahoma, or Italy. Other examples of your claiming clients that are not yours include your recitation of the “facts” of the Welch, Amato, Tarr, and Estrada cases. Mr. Hamilton — not you — brought those cases. I can understand why you would not want to advertise the cases that you have filed given the backgrounds of your clients. Nonetheless, that does not entitle you to misrepresent your practice.

In light of the false and defamatory content of the Website, you must cease operation of the Website immediately.

Kindest Regards,

William H. Forman
Scheper Kim & Harris LLP

Two months after Forman sent this letter, Little’s website is still up and running. We asked him about that.

“There’s nothing on that website that I wouldn’t defend as true,” he says. “I’m not going to take it down at all, no way. What I told Bill was, I’m not Comedy Central, I’m not taking my stuff down.”


Scientology files second action over Trout Run

We’ve been keeping an eye on the unfolding mess in Frederick County, Maryland, where Scientology’s subsidiary, Social Betterment Properties International (SBPI) has been fighting over a $5 million parcel it bought and wants to put a Narconon drug rehab center on.

After the county counsel voted not to put the parcel on its historic list, which would have given SBPI a loophole to put the center there, SBPI filed a complaint with the local district court. A judge asked the county to review its decision, and we’re still waiting for that to develop.

In the meantime, SBPI has filed a second action. It didn’t like that while the first action is ongoing, the county proposed an ordinance that would close the loophole SBPI wanted to exploit. So now SBPI is suing for records about the ordinance and how it emerged. Our thanks to Mary McConnell for obtaining a copy of the latest court complaint. You may enjoy the usual rhetoric about religious discrimination in it…

SBPI v. Frederick County: Complaint for injunctive relief


Got $600,000 lying around for LRH’s bike?

You’ve probably already seen this rather amazing listing at Craigslist that’s been going around…


Says the ad: “L. Ron Hubbard’s favorite previously owned motorcycle. It was his 1975 XS 650B Yamaha. This is the only one currently known to exist and the last one he owned. Call for details.”

Marc Headley tells us he has no clue who might be selling this thing.




3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on March 25, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail 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. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated 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 L.A. 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

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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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