State Senator Speaks Out After Latest Narconon Lawsuit

Wednesday, August 20th 2014, 6:12 pm

A state Senator is speaking out after two former investigators with the State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse say the agency hid the results of the high profile investigation into Narconon Arrowhead.

The agency launched the investigation in July 2012 after three people died at the Scientology based drug treatment facility. More than a year later, the agency claimed it was still investigating. But two lawsuits filed by Kim Poff, the former Inspector general for the agency, and Michael DeLong, the other investigator in the case, say the report was finalized in the fall of 2012.

The lawsuit says investigators on the case found the facility broke numerous state laws and they wanted to shut it down. But leadership at ODMHSAS "attempted to hide the findings" because they believe "the Department did not want to get involved with litigation involving the Church of Scientology."

“That would be extremely concerning and disappointing in light of the legislation we passed giving them the authority to do something,” said Sen. Tom Ivester, (D) - Sayre.

Ivester was behind a new law that took effect in 2013 giving the Department of Mental Health greater oversight into the facility.

“They would be able to go in for inspections unannounced, announced,” he explained. “And if the allegations are true the Department of Mental Health hasn't done it, they just haven't done it. We gave them the authority and they haven't done it.”

8/19/2014 Related Story: Narconon Investigators Sue Department Of Mental Health And Substance Abuse

The Department of Mental Health has turned the results of the investigation over to the Oklahoma Attorney General and a spokesperson says the Attorney General's Office provided guidance throughout the process.

Public Information Director Jeffrey Dismukes says state statute prohibits them from publicly sharing investigative records. But family members of those who died in the facility are asking a judge to release the report. Ivester agrees it should be made public.

“Let's look at it and talk about it and see what the Department of Mental Health's Actions were, why they didn't act upon it,” he said. “We know there was something wrong because we've got three deaths. Who is responsible? Who knew what and when did they know it? That's what we need to know.”

A judge is expected to make a decision late next month on releasing the results of the report.

In regards to the lawsuits Dismukes said they were unable to speak to any specifics regarding pending litigation, but did release this statement:

“These lawsuits are completely without merit, and the department plans to vigorously fight these frivolous claims. The plaintiff's attorneys are making claims that they know we can't respond to in the press due to confidentiality requirements and limits placed upon the department in accordance with state statute; however, the truth will come-out in court. We look forward to presenting all the facts before a judge and jury, and showing that the actions of the department were appropriate and just. It will be obvious that the two plaintiffs were terminated for cause.”