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Filed 7/16/14: Burchett v. Narconon (re Scientology rehab)


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Filed 7/16/14: Burchett v. Narconon (re Scientology rehab).

Tony Ortega: Ryan Hamilton files his 18th lawsuit against Scientology’s embattled drug rehab network

This newest one was a federal action filed on behalf of Claudia Burchett and Sarah Burchett of Ohio, who are suing the Narconon Fresh Start in Warner Springs, in San Diego County.

According to the complaint, Claudia was searching the ‘net for a drug rehab center for her daughter, Sarah, in December 2012. She ran into a generic-looking referral website that encouraged her to call a toll-free phone number.

When she called, she talked to a man name Ryan who then pushed her toward the Narconon system using the same arguments as were spelled out in a script used by California Narconon facilities which we wrote about last year. He talked down other, more reputable rehab systems, and pushed Narconon, saying that it had a 76-percent success rate.

He said he would put her in touch with a Narconon rep, and brought on Narconon’s Dan Carmichael..

“Carmichael then represented to Claudia that Narconon Fresh Start offered ‘individualized cognitive therapy’ and had a sauna program that was capable of flushing residual drug toxins out of Sarah’s fatty tissue and could thereby reduce or eliminate her drug cravings,” the complaint says.

Claudia was convinced, and paid $34,000 for her daughter to start the program.

Hamilton makes the accusation that “Ryan” was using the Narconon scripts in order to convince Claudia that he was an independent referrer making an honest recommendation for Narconon, and not a shill for Scientology’s operation. In order to bolster that point, he submitted as evidence the notes that Claudia took during her phone call with Ryan, which mirror the leaked Narconon scripts to an amazing degree.

Once Sarah arrived at the facility, she then learned what all Narconon patients do — that it’s actually Scientology training, not drug counseling. She also went through Narconon’s sauna-and-vitamins regimen, which comes from Scientology. But Narconon’s own expert witness testified that the program doesn’t “detoxify” individuals, and it isn’t based on scientific principles.
Because of the strange “treatments” she was being subjected to at Fresh Start, Sarah became increasingly distressed and paranoid. She had great difficulty sleeping and eating and lost approximately thirty pounds. Sarah barely spoke.

Sarah was the valedictorian of her high school class. When she left for Narconon she was tremendously capable, albeit struggling with addiction. During her stay at Narconon, she had difficultly following through on simple tasks.

In February of 2013, Claudia came to see Sarah at Fresh Start. She barely recognized her daughter. Claudia removed Sarah from Fresh Start. On leaving Fresh Start, Sarah had to be hospitalized for psychiatric problems she incurred as a result of the bizarre “treatments” she was subjected to at Narconon.
Here’s the complaint…

Burchett v. Narconon: Complaint