John Travolta Dragged Into Narconon Death Lawsuits

By McCarton Ackerman 12/05/12

The star supports the Scientology-backed Narconon Arrowhead rehab, describing it as "the best."

Backing Narconon Arrowhead Photo via

John Travolta believes that Scientology can produce miracles; the rehab community largely disagrees. The actor is now being dragged into the controversy over several wrongful death lawsuits against Narconon Arrowhead—a rehab facility 90 miles south of Tulsa, Oklahoma that is "associated" with the Church of Scientology. Four patient deaths—including three since October 2011—have occurred there in recent years. Travolta and his wife recently have thrown a $2,500-a-head fundraising event for the facility. "Compared to other rehabs, we're the best," declared the star. A representative for the Church of Scientology didn't deny a connection with Narconon, but said that the Church doesn't control or manage the facility, and that Travolta's fundraising efforts were in no way related to the deaths: “There was nothing that the Church of Scientology did, or failed to do, which caused or contributed to the fatalities at Narconon Arrowhead.” The families of the deceased are unconvinced: “If I could talk directly to John Travolta, I would tell him the program he is supporting is responsible for killing my daughter,” says Connie Werninck, whose daughter Kaysie died at Narconon Arrowhead in 2009. Travolta's faith remains strong, though; he recently declared that performing Scientology "assists" helped heal the injuries of a car crash victim. Now he might have to hope the religion has an "assist" for warding off sex scandals: Doug Gotterba, Travolta's pilot from 1981-1987, claims that the pair had a six-year affair. He's now filing a lawsuit stating that the actor's reps threatened him when he went public. Travolta's attorney describes Gotterba's suit as "ridiculous."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.