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Shakeup at Narconon Arrowhead: Former worker dishes fresh intel on Scientology’s rehab flagship

Rod Keller has a dynamite new report on big changes that have been happening at Scientology’s flagship drug rehab facility in Oklahoma, where three deaths happened in a nine-month period about five years ago.

Narconon Arrowhead, the “flagship” of Scientology’s drug rehab centers in Canadian, Oklahoma is under new management, but the center has done little to improve the conditions that led to the death of four patients in 2011 and 2012. Former Arrowhead employee Amy Ince was there on October 26, 2011 – the day Gabriel Graves was found dead in his room after complaining of headaches and nausea. “I remember the day they found him and being up the hill from all the police and ambulances at the front door. It was a sad day.” The incident left Ince shaken, and she left Narconon, only to return to staff this year with the promise that conditions have changed. Ince says there are fewer patients, called “students” in Narconon, but little else about the program has changed in six years.


[David Justice far left, Les Starkey far right]


In 2011 Arrowhead Lodge was full, with more than 150 patients. Now there are only 10 to 12, and Scientology’s plan to revitalize the facility has been to remove Executive Director Gary Smith, Ince was told that Narconon International did a “hostile takeover” in July, bringing in about five Narconon International staff and installing new leadership. David Justice is the CEO and Les Starkey is Executive Director, his deputy. Rubina Qureshi, the president of the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) is there as well. Ironically, as the number of patients has decreased, the staff-to-patient ratio is better than ever. Including Narconon International there are about 30 staff at the facility. Ince was shocked to find that a few are on staff at a Scientology Class V org on loan to Arrowhead, and earn only $50 per week.


[Les Starkey’s announcing plans to renovate Arrowhead]

Arrowhead Lodge was built in 1965 and much needed renovations were announced in July, both in the main building and the many cabins that stretch out along the lake. They haven’t started the work in earnest yet. “They have not renovated many cabins at all, many stand empty with tall grass and weeds around them. Cabins on the lower loop are all grown up with spiders and other things living in them. They have not done any renovations on the main building. There are only four rooms in Withdrawal and one has mold in the bathroom shower area,” Ince tells us.


[“Drug Bomb” vitamins used at Arrowhead]

Ince has never been a Scientologist, and worked in the Withdrawal Department, a group responsible for caring for patients as they arrive. “We prepare them for the detoxification program. We start them on their vitamins and cal mag and do locationals to keep them in the present as well as assists. And when the C/S (Case Supervisor) gets the medical OK they are ready for the sauna. We do their first training drills which are the Be There and the Confront Still. We monitor their vitals every 6 hours and make sure they stay in the program,” Ince says.

Staying in the program is a problem at Arrowhead. “If they are blowy you need one on one (counseling) and we had several that were blowy before I quit. One walked a mile away. Les (Starkey) and David Justice went after him. They asked what he was afraid of and he said he had a warrant and they did not know he was at Narconon. So David Justice told him if he did not come back that he would be forced to call law enforcement. He came back and finished the withdrawal program and moved on to the detoxification program.” That patient was still at Arrowhead when Ince left, and may still be there today.


[Patients drill at Narconon Los Molinos, Spain]

Patients stay in Withdrawal until they are ready for the sauna and the rest of the Narconon program. “They have to exhibit they have no withdrawal symptoms according to the withdrawal specialist and self reports from the student, and manage a 20 minute Be There Still and Confront. They take a drug bomb packet three to four times a day until they go into detox where the vitamins increase.” The TRs, or Training Routines, are the same as those done in any Scientology org, involving staring at a partner without moving, commanding an ashtray to levitate, and bullbait. “You sit in a chair and they can scream at you. They make movements toward you like they will hit you. They can say anything to you and about you and the more secrets they know about you the more they can use against you during this TR. They can not physically hit you but anything else is fair game and during all this you are not allowed to flinch, move or talk. You are to sit perfectly still like in the Confront drill.”


[Amy Ince]

One change from 2011 is the use of an interventionist to bring patients to the center. Known to Ince only as “Bobby,” the interventionist travels to the home of an addict and sells the family on the Narconon program. “They are using interventions a lot and making promises that are false like private rooms and WiFi. They say Bobby can ‘bag and tag’ anyone.” Patients are housed two to a room at Arrowhead. Private rooms are available, but the cost is $40,000 instead of the usual $30,000 for the Narconon program.


[Ince’s termination letter.]

On October 11, 2017 Ince had had enough. “I went through the staff TR’s and Objectives needed for the withdrawal area and started the Detoxification I/C (In Charge). I was set for the sauna, as well as the Life’s Ups and Downs course and had a tip sheet set for me to go all the way up to C/S. I worked seven days a week, 8-12 hours a day and was thinking that things were not right at that place. They were basically getting ready to try to make me a Scientologist with the training I was doing, and so one day I didn’t return to work.” Les Starkey and Communications Secretary Rhonda Spencer sent her a letter to inform her she was fired. While not a true Scientology “Suppressive Person declare,” the letter is printed on goldenrod paper always used for that purpose.

Ince hopes telling her story will help close the facility, which she says is no safer now that in 2011. “I want this place shut down before they kill others. I guess I stayed as long as I did and came back (in 2017) because of my love for the students and concern for them. I still worry about those students that remain there.”

— Rod Keller


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,924 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 70 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,133 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,907 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,681 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,027 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,521 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,561 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,273 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 799 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,888 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,028 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,348 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,323 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 679 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,981 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,087 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,490 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,363 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 944 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,449 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,693 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,802 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on November 5, 2017 at 07:00

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

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

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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