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THE ENTERPRISE

Organizers plan to open a halfway house in Lakeville
The former Meadow View Nursing Home in Lakeville is targeted to be used for refugees from high-control religious organizations.

February 19, 2002

By. Michael J. DeCicco

Lakeville, Massachussetts


[Webmaster's note. Original article spelled 'Padgett' incorrectly as "Padget'. We altered this article with that correction so that search engines can find it. No other alterations were made.]

LAKEVILLE -- Organizers of a planned halfway house for refugees of high-control religious organizations say they hope to open the facility within a few months at the former Meadow View Nursing Home on Crooked Lane.

Plans for the Meadow Haven program were first proposed two years ago to cautious town officials and skeptical Crooked Lane neighbors.
Tom Padgett, who said he is a former member of the Church of Scientology, is the Meadow Haven project coordinator.
Once the facility opens, he said, he will become the program's "survival advocate."

He said the program could open as early as six weeks.
The Rev. Robert Pardon, the director of the new program's overseeing group, the New England Institute of Religious research, said that during the long interval between the proposal and the implementation, the institute tried to sell the property last year when it felt it lacked enough money to continue with its plan.

He said the institute has since received a large donation that has allowed it to hire an architect to create the type of building changes the town wanted.

As contractors work to renovate the former nursing home, the neighbor who complained most vocally about both plans for the facility is happy at least that the drug rehabilitation plan did not become a reality.
Crooked Lane neighbor Leona Wright said she has heard nothing of the resurrected halfway house plan but considers Meadow Haven a better idea than the drug rehab center.

"Anything is better," she said.

In Zoning Board of Appeals hearings on the drug rehab plan in 2000, the neighbors' concern centered on what the behavior of its residents would do to the neighborhood and the residents. The zoning board ultimately denied a permit for that plan.

Officials reacted cautiously to the halfway house plan until learning there is no specific permit an organization like Meadow Haven needs, beyond building permits. Its type of use is allowed in a residential area.

Padgett said neighbors have nothing to worry about from the program's residents.

"We try to explain (to neighbors) these are good people." Padgett said, "It's a place for transition. We don't want people overly concerned."
He said high-control religious organizations differ from other organized religions because they use mind control and terrorist tactics on their members. He said they take their follows out of the mainstream and keep them there, with information control, communication control and coercive tactics

Some who enter a program like Meadow Haven have led cloistered lives for many years within these high-control religious organizations, he said.

Some, he said, haven't seen television in years, let alone thought of their lives independently.. He added that they are not likely to become a threat to anyone.

The halfway house exists, he said, "not to convert them to another religion but to heal them from the emotional, psychological and sociological effects."

Religious high-control groups are not the only kind of such organizations, Padgett added. There are political cults, he said, such as the Third Reich. There are ethnic cults, such as the Klu Klux Klan, he said. Survivors of such groups need Meadow Haven's type of help, he said.

Meadow Haven will include a kitchen and dining room, a residential area for counselors, offices, a counseling room, eight bedrooms, a deck, a separate storage building and a library with information on the history of cults.

It will hold up to 12 to 14 clients at a time, plus six staff people that will include the director and his wife and professionally trained counselors.



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