Jan 15, 2015

Lawsuit claims Albion rehab center is a Scientology front, latest in long list of lawsuits since 2005

Lawsuit claims Albion rehab center is a Scientology front, latest in long list of lawsuits since 2005


By Will Forgrave | wforgrav@mlive.com 
January 15, 2015

ALBION, MI – A former rehabilitation patient at Narconon Freedom Center in Albion has sued the company, claiming the center uses its program to introduce Scientology to unwitting patients seeking drug rehabilitation.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, Jan. 14, former patient and Ohio resident Lauren Prevec claims the center charged $25,000 in upfront costs before skipping a medical assessment, taking her completely off her anti-depressant medication and attempting to indoctrinate her to Scientology over the course of two months.

She is requesting $75,000 in damages.

Officials at Narconon Freedom Center declined to comment on the lawsuit when called and approached in person Thursday, Jan. 15.

Among other allegations, Prevec claims in her lawsuit that Narconon Freedom Center officials:

  • Engaged in "romantic relationships" with patients.
  • Supplied patients with the same eight course books based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology religion.
  • Had patients perform what they called a "new life detoxification program," which the suit alleges is strikingly similar to a Scientology ritual known as the "purification rundown."
  • Allowed drugs to regularly be brought into the facility.

"Narconon Freedom Center is using the program to introduce Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard's 'technology' to unwitting patients seeking drug rehabilitation," the lawsuit reads. "This is exactly as the Church of Scientology directed as part of its 'Social Coordination Strategy.'"

Prevec was suspended from the center July 3, 2012, because she tested positive for marijuana, the report reads.

Lansing-based Attorney Jeffrey Ray is representing the plaintiffs in the case, including Prevec's parents Frank and Jannette. His paralegal Catherine Villanueva said this isn't the first case the law office has brought against Narconon.

"The first case came across my desk about two-and-a-half years ago, and I didn't think anything of it initially," Villanueva said. "It claimed some strange things about Narconon ... so I ended up searching the ties between Narconon and Scientology and it just opened up."

In May 2012, former Narconon patient Richard Teague brought a lawsuit against the center in Calhoun County Circuit Court, after he claimed the center didn't assist him in his rehabilitation from benzodiazepine.

On January 15, 2011, while at the Narconon Freedom Center in Albion, Teague, while exhibiting symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal, set himself on fire with the use of a cigarette lighter and a cologne bottle. With flames engulfing him, he ran outside and extinguished the fire by plunging into the snow.

"On Jan. 15, 2011, Richard Teague was not supervised, monitored or cared-for properly by Narconon staff," the lawsuit reads. "The plaintiff was in delusional, paranoid state when he was severely and permanently burned."

The Teague case was dismissed May 12, 2014, Calhoun County Circuit Court officials said.

There have been 118 lawsuits brought against Narconon centers across the country since 1992, electronic court records indicate. Court records show there are have been 33 lawsuits brought in Calhoun County courts since 2005 against the Albion center and A Forever Recovery Center in Battle Creek, a Narconon affiliate.

Contact Will Forgrave at wforgrav@mlive.com or 517-262-7554. Follow him on Twitter at @WillForgrave.



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