Scientologists charged with kidnapping in Tennessee
Marc Vallieres, inset above, the operator of several Church of Scientology ‘facilities’ in Tennessee, has been charged with multiple felony counts of kidnapping.
Vallieres, according to this report, was arrested in Cannon County and faces two felony counts of facilitation of kidnapping. Two others involved with the alleged kidnapping are Dennis Flamond and Hans Snyder Lytle, who have both pleaded guilty to two counts of false imprisonment.
Vallieres runs a number of facilities in Woodbury, about 60 miles southeast of Nashville. His goal at the centres is to take in teenagers who struggle with mental issues or drug and alcohol addiction and treat them with his longstanding Scientology-based therapy programme.
The arrests followed a raid by police on a collection of cabins and a double-wide trailer, concealed in the wilderness and heavily secured. This collection of cabins in Woodbury belong to the Life Center for a New Tomorrow, which is owned by Vallieres. It says on its website:
The Center was created to provide a safe environment for people who have conditions difficult to deal with. The Life Center is not a medical or treatment facility. The main focus is to provide an environment that is peaceful and safe, where people can rest, destimulate, gradually calm down, regain their senses and with some help perhaps recover the social skills necessary to function successfully in life.
No mention is made on the site about the Church of Scientology, but Vallieres indicated his involvement with the Life Centre on his Facebook page. Last August he said he was looking for staff for the Life Center.
A Global News report said the authorities had found out about the cabins when a man inside managed to call 911. When police arrived the captive was “looking out through a Plexiglas window”.
The unidentified man told police that he had been held in the facility against his will for nine months, and had been treated with unknown medications. According to officers who witnessed the scene, it was impossible for the man to leave the cabin, and all he was provided was a single bed with a single sheet and a tiny bathroom, which was the “only room with a light”.
After assessing the scene, the man was taken to an emergency room at a local hospital for care. When police later returned to the cabin and trailer armed with a search warrant, they discovered people hastily packing up and moving out all contents of the facilities.
Later, when the police searched another reported Scientology location, they discovered yet another “patient,” this time a female. She too was transported to a local hospital and her family notified.
The authorities ordered an immediately shut-down of the cult’s facilities. A statement released by the Cannon County Sheriff’s Department said:
We would like to make the general public of [the] county aware that the Scientology facilities are closed and [no longer] operating.
Well-known Scientology reporter Tony Ortega has been sounding the horn on these covert facilities for some time, citing examples of other people who have allegedly been held against their will – including severely mentally ill Scientologists – and who have suffered mental breakdowns in similar rural Tennessee facilities. On his website Ortega, in reporting this week’s police operation, said:
In 2015, we told you the shocking story of a woman with severe mental health issues who was “treated” with Scientology’s pseudoscientific techniques at the Woodbury, Tennessee facility that Vallieres called Life Center for a New Tomorrow. The woman was later moved to the basement of a house in Arkansas, where she had to be rescued by local authorities.
A Church of Scientology press release dating back to 2012 said that Marc Vallieres and his wife Anne had embarked on a crusade to:
Create a drug-free Tennessee after they began to notice heavy drug abuse in their own small town of Woodbury.
They began the campaign in 2009 and since then have conducted drug education seminars in schools, reaching thousands of children in 30 counties around the state. They intend to bring the program to all remaining counties and make drug prevention part of every child’s education in Tennessee.
The release added:
The Church of Scientology has published a new brochure, Scientology: How We Help—The Truth About Drugs, Creating a Drug-Free World, to meet requests for more information about the drug education and prevention initiative it supports.
Hat Tip: Trevor Blake