Claremore Woman Sues Narconon Rehab Facility Over Son's Death

Wednesday, October 24th 2012, 10:12 pm
By: Tess Maune

Another Green Country mother is taking legal action against a controversial rehab facility, Narconon Arrowhead.

Gabriel Graves' mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility Wednesday.

This is the second such suit to be filed against Narconon in the past two weeks.

In both cases, the families say they were lied to and their children were refused medical attention.

10/24/2012 Related Story: McAlester Drug Rehab Center Narconon Targeted In 3rd Wrongful Death Suit

With his mother by his side, Gabriel Graves checked into Narconon Arrowhead on August 27, 2011—a last-ditch effort to beat his addiction to heroin.

His mom, Shirley Gilliam found the facility online the night before Gabe enrolled.

She says she didn't have time to shop around; her son needed help and he needed it fast.

"I probably wasn't thinking as clearly as I should have been, but I did the best that I could. It just wasn't good enough," Gilliam said.

Narconon is a drug rehab facility that treats with teachings inspired by Church of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

Part of the treatment plan includes a sauna and exercise program, which is supposed to help stop cravings.

"I don't believe this is scientifically proven, but I fell for it," Gilliam said.

Gabe wasn't two months into the program when he started feeling sick and complaining about a severe headache.

Read the petition on behalf of Gabriel Graves

"The five-hour saunas were too much. He would regurgitate, severe diarrhea, he lost weight while he was there," Gilliam said.

Gabe told his mom his request for pain medication was denied and that he couldn't get in to see the doctor, even though attorney Gary Richardson says the family was told a physician would be on staff 24/7.

"There's no doctor there, taking care of medical needs, like they're leading people to believe there is," Richardson said.

But, Gilliam said her son reassured her he'd be okay.

The next day Gabe was found dead, face down in his bed.

"It's amazing. I just began screaming and screaming, ‘Not Gabriel,'" Gilliam said.

Not knowing what else to do, Gilliam said she went to Narconon leaders, hoping for answers.

"I said, ‘What happened?' ‘Well, we just don't know where he got them.' ‘Got what?' ‘The drugs,'" Gilliam said, recalling her conversation. "I said, ‘Are you telling me he overdosed?'" And he says, ‘We just don't know what happened, where he got them.'"

The medical examiner couldn't determine why Gabe died, but did rule out an overdose.

10/5/2012 Related Story: Parents File Lawsuit Against Narconon After Owasso Woman Dies In Treatment

Gabe was the first of three deaths at Narconon in a nine-month span.

Hillary Holten died at the facility in April.

Stacy Dawn Murphy was the third; she died in July. Her parents have also filed a wrongful death lawsuit, using the same attorney.

Narconon CEO Gary Smith said that the allegations in this suit will be addressed in a court of law and not a public forum.

He also said that while Narconon's doctor is only on campus on Fridays, he's always on call and that a nurse is on duty at all times.