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Narconon whistleblower Lucas Catton puts out a new memoir about his Scientology nightmare

[Lucas Catton]

We have a new entry in our ‘Scientology Lit’ series, this time an excerpt from a new book by Lucas Catton, who at one time was president of Scientology’s flagship drug rehab clinic, Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma. Back in 2012 Luke became a major whistleblower which got him an appearance on NBC’s ‘Rock Center’ program. He also came out with a 2013 book about his Narconon experience, ‘Have You Told All?’, which he later removed from the marketplace. Now he’s back with another memoir, ‘Reconnection,’ and he was kind enough to provide us with this excerpt from it.

 
In June of 2014, I received a subpoena to testify before a criminal investigation into Narconon Arrowhead by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. They had sent it to a multi-county grand jury to review some of the evidence that the state had gathered up to that point. Once the dates were worked out, the Oklahoma AG’s office booked a flight and hotel for me to testify at the end of the month. On the day of travel, I had a layover at Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport, but my connecting flight got cancelled, and I was bumped to the next morning. Rather than waiting for the flight and potentially being late, I was able to get a rental car and drove from Dallas up to Oklahoma City. It was a very odd and lonely feeling crossing that Oklahoma border just before sunset that summer night. It had been two and a half years since I left Oklahoma, and I certainly hadn’t envisioned returning for that purpose. On one hand I was sad for all of the people and circumstances involved, while on the other I was glad to do my share to keep telling the truth of what I knew and had experienced to those with the capacity to take action.

I wound up getting to the hotel fairly late that evening, and I was paranoid that there were potentially private investigators trying to keep an eye on me while I was there. Every time I saw someone who might have looked my way, I stopped to observe them for a bit to see if they really were watching me. I didn’t wind up seeing anything out of the ordinary, and thankfully I slept much better that evening than I had when traveling to New York the previous year. Although Scientology has admittedly used private investigators to follow people for decades, and still do so today to harass whistleblowers and intimidate witnesses, I never found any evidence that they had dispatched one my direction, thankfully.

The next morning, when I arrived at the Attorney General’s office, I was put in a room to wait with Eric Tenorio. It was great seeing him again, and it was also weird to put that in context with the first time I met him back in 1998 at Narconon there in Oklahoma, and how the last time I saw him was in New York filming an interview for national television. It would have been easy to go down a long road in my mind of wondering how it all came to this and shaming myself for getting so involved, but I tried to stay focused. It helped that the Assistant Attorney General, George Burnett, kept us busy prior to our individual testimony appearances. Multi-county grand juries are called to hear evidence from many witnesses for a number of different investigations, so this was just one of the topics they were having to weigh during their convening. Before we knew it, each of us had our turn to testify, and then we were finished by lunch.

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Attorney Gary Richardson, who was representing many of the Plaintiffs against Narconon in Oklahoma, had known we were in town and asked to take us to lunch. We followed him to a restaurant, and were joined by Robert Murphy, the father of Stacy Murphy, who had died of a drug overdose at Narconon’s facility in Oklahoma in July of 2012. It was a full two years after her passing that there finally appeared to be some movement on criminal prosecution, though no definitive action from the State Department of Mental Health.

Once again, I was humbled by the presence of a parent who lost their child. Stacy’s death was the last one that occurred at the facility, and perhaps got the most media attention. Both Gary Richardson and Robert Murphy thanked us for standing up and speaking out, and for being willing to cooperate with the criminal investigations. To my knowledge, all of Gary Richardson’s clients were eventually able to settle out of court without having to go to trial.

As we finished up lunch and said goodbye, I drove Eric to the airport and dropped off the rental car. My flight didn’t leave for a few hours, but I was so ready to get home. Things were already very different for me, as much had changed in my life since this evolution began. I didn’t feel like I needed to or wanted to fight anymore, and that there was enough momentum to continue carrying forth justice, in whatever form that would be. It wound up being the last time I saw Eric in person as well, as we haven’t crossed paths since then.

I remember feeling confident that there would finally be some criminal charges or indictments at some point against Narconon. Then news hit in August that the Oklahoma Grand Jury ran out of time before they could go through all the evidence for an indictment, and they officially recommended further investigation. A couple months later I got a call from Stephen Colburn, the new investigator at the Insurance Commissioner’s office that had been handed the case. However, after about a year of digging into things more, including multiple trips to the facility and interviews with staff and others, he told me he had completed his investigation and turned it and his recommendations into his superiors.

In October of 2014 I received a call from another investigator. This time it was an FBI agent named Kurt Schichtel out of Michigan who was looking into insurance fraud allegations against Narconon and related organizations up there. He was loosely working with state agencies in Oklahoma and Georgia, but told me he didn’t have jurisdiction outside of Michigan at that time in order to take on a larger racketeering investigation. He was much more tight-lipped about the specifics of what he was doing compared to the guys who worked for state agencies. After that initial conversation, there was a follow-up done in early 2015 as well, but then no more word or contact from him. I don’t know what happened with it, as I never received an official subpoena and there wasn’t any news coverage of criminal prosecution up there. However, there were other civil lawsuits filed by Plaintiffs in Michigan represented by Attorney Jeffrey Ray. I never spoke with him, but I did have a couple conversations with his paralegal at the time, Catherine Villanueva.

 

 
I thought activity was winding down in November of 2015, but I got another subpoena to give a deposition as a non-party witness for several civil lawsuits between Narconon and multiple Plaintiffs. However, this time it was Narconon’s attorneys who issued it and wanted me to turn over communications I’d had regarding their cases. I reached out to several law firms for the Plaintiffs and none were quick to help or offer advice, which was a clear indication to me that I was on my own, so I showed up alone ready to face whatever was thrown at me.

On December 8, I drove down to the rented office space in a high rise in Midtown Atlanta, where I met Julio Vergara [who works with William Forman], the attorney for Narconon who had issued the subpoena. Also present were the court reporter, and Clark Carr, the President of Narconon International. On a guess that Clark might be there, I actually had texted him the day before and offered to meet for coffee. I had one conversation with him a year or so earlier when I had drafted a suggestion for Narconon to settle all cases, admit to the fraud they were committing, restructure their licenses and admit that they were in fact a faith-based organization using Scientology. I had said that that was their only real chance at surviving the onslaught of civil and criminal legal proceedings against them and for any hope turning around their PR crisis. Of course they declined to do so, and chose to keep fighting instead and denying any wrongdoing whatsoever.

After the initial awkward handshakes, I was sworn in on camera and Julio began his barrage of questions. His demeanor went from pleasant to argumentative when he realized I wasn’t going to be intimidated into saying something that wasn’t true or bend to his tendency to try and reword my statements to fit his needs, especially when I had personally witnessed so much over the years. He kept rephrasing things I had said in the past, with a twist of words to make it sound in his favor, and then would try to get me to agree that what he said was true. I kept having to refute his statements and stand my ground. In addition to trying to get evidence from me for discovery, it seemed like one of his primary motives was to try and discredit me as a witness. He underestimated my knowledge and experience as we went toe to toe for hours.

Back and forth we went, throughout the day. They would then take short breaks to strategize after going through the documents I was forced to provide, and then we would reconvene for another round. It wound up being a pretty traumatic event for me. It was so similar to being badgered in a Scientology confessional, especially since Clark was present and Julio was trying to get me to admit to things that weren’t true. Despite being alone and feeling like I was ganged up on, I knew I had nothing to hide, so I didn’t back down. It was, however, very tense and nerve wracking. I wound up clenching my teeth so hard during the day that I actually chipped a sliver off my front tooth, and to this day I’m often reminded of that harrowing event.

Ryan Hamilton, the Plaintiffs’ attorney, was present on the speaker phone to listen in, but he wasn’t representing me nor necessarily on my side. This was of great benefit to him, though, as he was able to get a lot of information in my deposition, at their expense.

We eventually hit a stalemate after Julio had thrown everything at me that he could. He kept the deposition open, and I never got a transcript or video of it, though Hamilton’s cases were all eventually settled out of court as well to my knowledge. Sometimes I wish I could go back and view that tape, as I was proud of myself for speaking the truth and standing my ground. However, I was utterly drained after being there for a total of 9 hours, without support, and I hadn’t had lunch nor dinner yet. By the time I finally got home I was a complete wreck. Not only did I have a severe headache from talking so much and barely eating, but I had an intense knot in my chest that went through to my back. At one point I even thought I might be having a heart attack. I was seriously concerned because it was an excruciating pain of constriction that I hadn’t experienced before. I took some Advil and tried to relax and eat something, and then just crashed on the couch and broke down and cried in my wife’s lap. I wept over not just how difficult it was and how terrible I felt, but for all of the associated pain attached to them as a whole. Why won’t they just go away? Although I felt that it turned out well in terms of being able to communicate what was necessary, I was so depleted that my body’s reaction was to weep as a way of trying to let go of all of the stored tension and angst from the day. I didn’t know how much I had left to give after that.”

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— Lucas Catton

 
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Source Code

“The technology we have, without any thought at all we can make the sane saner and the insane sane, and the breakthrough which exists here technically is so strong that it actually cuts though the normal protective mechanisms of the mind, wham, wham. And that the use of this material by any but a well organized, well disciplined group would be very fatal, quite lethal. And therefore we’re in the peculiar position now of not being able to export all the technology we have, because the areas into which we would export it, and the orgs into which we export it are insufficiently organized to be able to handle and control it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 18, 1971

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“LRH said that the release of OT9 and above required a large group of people through OT8 and many orgs the size of old Saint Hill. If OT9 were first dynamic levels then such would not be necessary. The Church of Scientology and the Sea Org are not real groups as they operate on inverted third dynamics to the detriment of the individual first dynamics. True groups involve the interactions of individuals who are surviving on the first and second dynamic. The authoritarian hierarchical structure of Scientology organizations makes that impossible. We have a long way to go.”

 
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Random Howdy

“I’ve already exteriorized three times today…without coffee!”

 
——————–

Start making your plans…

 
Head over to the convention website and meet us in St. Louis!

 
——————–

Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, and Juliette Lewis]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?

 
——————–

THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Filmmakers tell us why they decided to help Scientology with its new TV network
[TWO years ago] A new chapter for one of the best Scientology books of all time? Yes, and we have it!
[THREE years ago] Leah Remini has changed Scientology forever — which episode was your favorite?
[FOUR years ago] Stalked in New Orleans cemetery: Scientology’s secretive defectors getting more open
[FIVE years ago] VIDEO LEAK: See former Scientology official Marty Rathbun interrogated under oath
[SIX years ago] Jon Atack on Scientology’s fundamental feature: the thousand-yard stare
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s Worst Week Ever Finishes In Style
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology’s Goons: Intimidating a 71-Year-Old Missouri Grandmother

 
——————–

Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,821 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,325 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,845 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 865 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 756 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,063 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,931 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,705 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,479 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,825 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,391 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,310 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,478 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,059 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,320 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,358 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,071 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,596 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,123 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,686 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,826 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,146 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,002 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,121 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,476 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,779 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,885 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,287 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,159 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,742 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,237 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,491 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,600 days.

——————–

Posted by Tony Ortega on January 18, 2020 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 14 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 | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

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