MCALESTER, Okla. - Five new lawsuits were filed Thursday against the embattled drug and alcohol treatment facility in Pittsburg County. Narconon Arrowhead's international and state chapters were also named in the suit.
Court documents show the plaintiffs -- only two of whom are in the state of Oklahoma, according to attorney Gary Richardson -- are claiming fraud, false representation, breach of contract, non-disclosure and civil conspiracy.
READ: Narconon Arrowhead under microscope (http://bit.ly/O2qmNF)
Plaintiffs say they ended up paying thousands of dollars for treatment for family members -- treatment that was never received -- and in fact, Narconon representatives fraudulently claimed they could provide "a medically appropriate facility for the treatment of drug and alcohol addictions, including counseling, licensed therapists ..."
However, they say they later learned there were no doctors on staff and most of the counselors were former addicts with no qualifications.
The suits allege the program is nothing more than a scheme to finance and recruit for the Church of Scientology.
READ: Scientology-linked Narconon of Oklahoma facing further litigation amid recent rehab deaths (http://bit.ly/11skftu)
Several of the suits claim the counselors "provided drugs and alcohol to the students in exchange for sex."
All five plaintiffs are seeking actual damages in excess of $75,000 and punitive damages as well as interest, attorneys' fees and court costs.
The lawsuits against Narconon Arrowhead are piling up in attorney Gary Richardson's office. Richardson is now handling nine lawsuits filed against the rehabilitation facility.
"They were defrauded into believing things that they found out, according to them, not to be true," Richardson said.
Richardson believes these lawsuits are just the "tip of the iceberg." He says he's gotten several calls from former Narconon patients and family members.
"We're not about shutting anyone down, we're about people operating honestly," Richardson said.
John Bitinas, spokesman for Narconon Arrowhead, released the following statement in response to the lawsuits:
It is pretty clear that these lawsuits are financially motivated and have no foundation of truth contained in them. As in any lawsuit that is filed allegations are made which contain gossip and information that often times is not factual. It is in the courtroom where the truth will prevail. The Narconon organization has been helping people overcome drug and alcohol addiction in the United States for 47 years and in Oklahoma for 23 years. Narconon’s mission has always been to help people overcome addiction and prevent kids from becoming addicts through our drug education and prevention programs. We are confident that justice will be served in these matters and Narconon will continue to achieve its purpose.
Narconon Arrowhead came under fire in 2012 after three of the facility's patients were found dead in less than a year. The facility is already facing negligence and wrongful death lawsuits from two of the victim's families.
Earlier this month, a national counseling association revoked its certification for top officials and several employees at the controversial rehab center.
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