McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

March 27, 2013

Narconon Arrowhead exec and Narconon Vista Bay advertise revoked certification

McALESTER — A top executive at Narconon Arrowhead and at least one other Narconon facility allegedly advertise a certification they no longer have, according to officials.

Earlier this month, drug counseling certifications were revoked for Narconon Arrowhead’s top executive Gary Smith and several of his employees by the Nation Association of Forensic Councilors.

Karla Taylor, president of NAFC, confirmed the revocations and said the revocations are permanent.

Narconon Arrowhead is a non-profit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Canadian affiliated with the Church of Scientology. The facility has been under investigation following the deaths of three Narconon clients found dead at the facility within a year. A fourth died while at a hospital.

The deaths spurred legislation to regulate facilities such as Narconon Arrowhead. In February, Senate Bill 295 was passed out of the Senate unopposed and is set to go before the House Public Health on Tuesday before going for a House vote, according to co-author of the bill State Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie. Murphey said the legislation was spurred by the Narconon deaths.

Last week, five lawsuits alleging Narconon’s counselors traded drug for sex and other allegations were filed in Pittsburg County District Court.

 Narconon Arrowhead officials say the allegations the lawsuits are “financially motivated and have no foundation of truth ....”

Meanwhile, in a statement issued Wednesday NAFC officials said its certification is issued to individuals, not to facilities.

Narconon Vista Bay website advertises a NAFC certification and Narconon’s CEO Gary Smith’s Facebook page Wednesday also stated he is a certified drug counselor.

Narconon’s Vista Bay facility was never certified by NAFC, according to the statement.

Narconon Arrowhead removed its NAFC logo from its website after the NAFC investigated and revoked Narconon’s employees certification.

“The (NAFC) discovered on certain websites several individuals have been and/or continue to be represented as holding certifications who are not certified through the NAFC,” the agency said.

“The NAFC does not, in any manner whatsoever endorse promote or approve entire facilities or their particular programs. Use of the NAFC logo is not permitted by facilities as a whole,” according to the statement.

The association states that use of its logo by Narconon could imply an endorsement it does not have.

“Further, the NAFC also discovered one or more facilities ... have used or are currently using, without authorization the NAFC’s name or logo on one of more of the their websites.

“Such unauthorized use could be interpreted to imply that the facility and or program ... offered is endorsed or approved by the NAFC.”

Taylor said the NAFC will continue to investigate and take action on allegations and other possible violations.

“To serve the greater interest of public safety and the integrity of the forensic counseling profession, the NAFC will persistently investigate all allegations and take appropriate actions based on investigative findings,” Taylor said.

Calls to Narconon Arrowhead were not returned by presstime today.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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