A federal lawsuit is filed in Oklahoma against the Church of Scientology and its Narconon drug rehabilitation centers. The lawsuit alleges the centers faked certifications of some of its counselors.
The lawsuit lists The Church of Scientology, Narconon International, and 80 other Narconon related defendants. It was filed on behalf of NAFC: The only organization to offer a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor certification on a national level.
"We just looked online for different places," said one former patient at Narconon Arrowhead on Lake Eufaula.
She asked News 9 not to identify her, but said she went to the facility in 2011 for a prescription drug addiction.
"The website says certified drug and alcohol counselors," she said.
According to the lawsuit, "more than 400 Narconon-associated websites contained the purported certifications of staff members that, in reality, have had certifications that have been suspended, revoked or never existed."
That list included Gary Smith, who heads up Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma who the suit says continued to advertise himself as a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor long after that certification was revoked.
The lawsuit goes on to say the "Defendants falsely claim to have a full staff of Certified Chemical Dependency Counselors." But the former patient says she knows all counselors weren't certified because she was almost one of them.
"If I had finished the program I would have been one of the people that was helping the next person coming in, in which I know nothing about counseling someone with a drug and alcohol problem."
This suit seeks an immediate injunction on the use of NAFC certifications, trademarks and logos along with monetary damages and attorneys' fees. News 9 tried to get a hold of Smith, but did not hear back from him by the time this story aired.
The following statement by the Narconon board of directors was released to News 9 Tuesday afternoon:
"The recent federal lawsuit filed by the National Association of Forensic Counselors (NAFC) is frivolous, unfounded and unnecessary. None of the Narconon organizations named claim any affiliation whatsoever with the NAFC. Furthermore, while certain Narconon Arrowhead employees in the past were certified as Chemical Dependency Counselors by the NAFC, neither Narconon Arrowhead nor any Narconon Arrowhead employee has had any affiliation with the organization for more than a year.
For nearly 50 years, countless individuals and families worldwide have salvaged lives, healed wounds and reclaimed hope through Narconon's programs. In a state ranked No. 1 in prescription drug abuse, where two Oklahomans on average die each day from overdoses and where more people die from drug abuse than in traffic accidents Narconon Arrowhead offers an effective, secular program focused on solutions, not talk or rhetoric."
Narconon of Oklahoma, Inc.
Board of Directors