Centre violated patient’s rights: ruling
‘DANGEROUS QUASI REHAB’ Scientology-linked Narconon exploited members: Human Rights Commission
Four years after he left Narconon Trois-Rivières, and two years after the so-called drug-rehabilitation centre was shut down by the public health agency, David Love has been vindicated by the Quebec Human Rights Commission, which concluded the centre exploited and abused him — financially, physically and mentally — along with two other complainants.
Love, who was first a patient then an employee at Narconon until he realized it was closely linked to the Church of Scientology, said the commission’s recent decision was a “global win” against Narconon, which continues to run drug rehabilitation centres in several countries — putting patients’ lives at risk.
“Some say I’m in it for the money, but it’s not true — I want to help the addicts,” said Love, a native of B.C. who has stayed in Montreal to fight Narconon, first before the Quebec Labour Tribunal, then before the Human Rights Commission.
Both agencies mediated in his favour and against Narconon, an organization vaunted by Scientologists like actors Kirstie Alley and John Travolta.
“This isn’t just about criticizing Narconon and Scientology,” Love said.
“It’s about saving lives. Drug addiction is an epidemic and I want to help addicts avoid the pitfalls of these pseudo treatment centres.”
Love wouldn’t disclose the amount the commission has proposed Narconon pay Love and the two other plaintiffs, also former patients, in moral and punitive damages. But he confirmed the total amount is in the “six figures.”
Michel Ménard, a lawyer for Narconon Trois-Rivières, said he couldn’t comment on the decision other than to say it was merely a recommendation — and not binding.
Citing confidentiality, Patricia Poirier, a spokesperson for the commission, said she couldn’t comment, either. The commission is still studying the case and has not yet decided whether to take the matter further and present it before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, she said.
Based on a three-year investigation of the facility in Trois-Rivières, the written document obtained by the Gazette says Narconon submitted Love to “degrading and humiliating practices,” “controversial teaching methods not based on any scientific study,” “poor living and food conditions” and “coercion and forcible confinement.”
Following the lead of the Supreme Court of Canada, the commission categorized drug addiction as a disability, and concluded that Love and others were discriminated against and financially exploited because of their disability. Narconon patients — considered “students” by the facility — were charged $23,000 for the treatment, which typically lasted three to five months and included high doses of vitamins such as niacin combined with four- to five-hour sessions in a sauna — known as the “Purification Rundown.”
Following the teachings of Scientology founder and science fiction writer Ron L. Hubbard, patients were also deprived of any prescribed medication for mental illness, and had to undergo personality and IQ tests as well as training routines, which Love said were designed to make them accept to be under someone else’s control — and teach them how to control others.
Sitting in a restaurant near his workplace in Montreal, Love said it is this mind control that has left him suffering so many years later.
He is drug-free, but traumatized by his experience. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he often has nightmares and can’t sleep. Sometimes he bursts into tears sitting at his desk at work.
The decision feels good, he said, but it’s not over.
Narconon Trois-Rivières, which was told to pay the plaintiffs by March 21, has refused. It offered Love 20 per cent of the recommended amount, but only if he signed a non-disclosure agreement that would prevent him from
“Some say I’m in it for the money, but it’s not true — I want to help the addicts.” FORMER NARCONON PATIENT
speaking publicly about the case or his experience with Narconon. He refused. “It’s more important for me to get Narconon exposed as one of the most danger- ous, quasi rehab centres in the world,” said Love, who believes Narconon funnels millions of dollars into the Church of Scientology. “Fourteen people have died inside Narconon centres, how many have died outside?”
In the book he is writing about his experience, which he hopes to publish with donations from the public — Roller Coaster Ride Out of Hell — Love refers to several suicide attempts by patients, like one at Narconon Trois-Rivières who jumped from a second-storey window after staff allegedly took away his anti-depressants.
When Narconon Trois-Rivières was closed in April 2012, the head of the Mauricie public health agency, Marc Lacour, said that at least four of the centre’s patients had been taken to a hospital in the previous few months, but for reasons of patient confidentiality, the agency could not provide details.
Narconon has since tried to open a new centre in Hockley, Ont., north of Toronto, but has been refused the necessary zoning changes after residents mounted a concerted campaign against it. It still operates about 50 centres around the world, mostly in the United States and Western Europe.
Calls for comment made Tuesday to the Montreal office of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a “mental health watchdog” cofounded by the Church of Scientology, were not returned.
“It’s more important for me to get Narconon exposed as one of the most dangerous, quasi-rehab centres in the world,” says David Love, who won a Quebec Human Rights Commission case against the drug-rehab centre linked to Scientology.