McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 2, 2007

Lawsuit is filed against Narconon

By Doug Russell

A South Carolina man who says he was emotionally damaged, forced to study Scientology and tossed out of a local treatment center is asking for damages, court costs and more.

In a lawsuit filed in Pittsburg County District Court, attorneys for Joshua Ryder state that Narconon Arrowhead failed to protect Ryder from foreseeable harm or provide competent professional care for him and also that it failed to properly hire, train or supervise a counselor whose actions directly impacted Ryder’s stay at the facility.

The lawsuit says Ryder was taking prescribed medications for anxiety and bipolar disorders when he entered the Narconon treatment program.

Ryder said Narconon required him to stop taking his medications and that a Narconon counselor initiated an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with him, according to court documents. “After … Ryder had become emotionally dependent on (the counselor), she terminated the relationship with him.”

Ryder allegedly “took a turn for the worse,” was pulled from the basic treatment program and was forced to study Dianetics, “which is the religious training course for the ‘religion’ of Scientology,” the court document states.

Ryder’s lawsuit says that when he objected, he was forced to leave the treatment program, put on a Greyhound bus and shipped back to South Carolina, with none of the $25,000 he’d paid for the treatment program refunded.

Once back in his home state, Ryder said, he had a relapse and ended up in jail for a month, after which Narconon asked him to return.

With his parents’ urging, he did.

This time, Ryder said, he was required to write letters as part of his treatment program and, even though he was assured the letters would remain confidential, Narconon staff allowed other staff members and even patients to see the letters. In addition, the lawsuit says, when Ryder admitted to having had a sexual relationship with a counselor “he was repeatedly removed from counseling sessions and interrogated by the staff of Narconon about the incident.”

Ryder also alleges that Narconon staff members prepared a document they wanted him to sign and, when he refused because he wanted an attorney to look at it first, he was “isolated, interrogated and repeatedly badgered.” In addition, the lawsuit says, the staff told Ryder that if he didn’t sign he would be kicked out of the treatment program, but once he did sign “he was escorted out of the Narconon facility and discharged from the program without a refund …”

Ryder is asking the court to issue a judgment against Narconon for damages, including medical expenses, attorneys fees, lost income and pain and suffering.

Officials for Narconon could not be reached for comment by press time.

Contact Doug Russell at drussell@mcalesternews.com.