A number of rehabilitation facilities operated by the Church of Scientology have been shut down in Tennessee after a victim made a 911 call and alerted officers that he was being held against his will. Three suspects have been charged in connection and an investigation is ongoing.
According to the Cannon County Courier, the police have known about the supposed mental health facilities in rural Tennessee, but had never been given access to them. The emergency phone call gave police the opportunity to enter. Officers described the complex as a double-wide trailer and several small cabins.
Police immediately noticed the padlocks on the gates and buildings. When officers arrived, the victim who made the call was locked in a cabin with no way to remove himself. The cabin was unlit, except for the single bathroom, and the victim had a single bed without sheets. The facility's caretaker showed the police around.
The victim explained to officers that he was being held against his will for more than nine months, and had been given daily doses of unknown drugs. He told officers that he had initially agreed to the alleged treatment as a means of rehab and cleansing through Scientology. However, after nine months of being held against his will, he desperately wanted to leave.
When police left the victim to talk to the caretaker, the caretaker re-locked the doors. According to Investigator Brandon Gullett, police then "explained to him that no one on this facility is a licensed health care provider and no one has power of attorney over him so if he feels that he needs to go to the hospital, then he will have to be transported."
The victim was brought to the emergency room and his mother was notified. Officers then contacted Adult Protective Services and a search warrant was obtained.
When officers returned, they found a second female victim who was also transferred to a local hospital. Officers also found facility personnel packing and moving out.
One of the facility's buildings was heavily fortified and officers had to use a ram to force the door open. They were able to collect several boxes of evidence.
Two of the three suspects have entered guilty pleas on two counts of false imprisonment. The third suspect was charged with felony facilitation to kidnapping charges but entered a "by information" plea in court.
In response, the judge ruled that "all facilities in Cannon County are closed and will not operate any resident facilities in Cannon County, TN."
The Sheriff's office also released a statement, saying: "The Cannon County Sheriff's Department would like to make the general public of this county aware that the Scientology facilities are closed and not operating in Cannon County."
The attorney representing the individuals involved in this case said the facilities were not operated by the Church of Scientology. However the facilities' connection has been previously established by investigative journalist and anti-Scientology campaigner Tony Ortega.