Patrick W. Desmond – “Ricko” to his friends and family – was born in Fayetville, NC, to Patrick and Mary Colleen Desmond. His father, a retired U.S. Army officer now working with the military of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, said school was always difficult for his son.
“By the time he was in high school, it was very difficult for him to keep up. He struggled in a big way. Some of it was lack of intellectual ability, and some of it was just ‘youth’ and lack of effort,” wrote Maj. Desmond in response to our inquiries about Patrick’s life. “Regardless, he quit high school when he was 16. However, he was intent on getting a GED and getting to work.”
Patrick went to Abu Dhabi to live with his father and to study for his GED. For six months in the desert heat, Desmond would work with his son at night and young Patrick would study alone at home all day while his father was at the office. They would then review Patrick’s work together and submitted to his teachers online.
“He was quite proud of that and I was proud of him – and to this day, I feel he got more out of that program than he would have in a regular High School environment,” stated the senior Desmond.
Patrick then entered the U.S. Marine Corps, finding a place in life where he began to excel. Stationed at Camp Pendleton in Southern California, he became one of the youngest Marines ever to complete Scout Swimmer School and was selected for both Scout Sniper School and the Marine Mountain Warfare School.
But it was here that Patrick’s affinity for drugs and alcohol first tripped him up. He went to a “Rave” along with several other Marines in San Diego one weekend and was selected for random drug screening shortly afterward. He tested positive for Ecstasy and was discharged from the Corps.
“Patrick felt terrible about getting put out of the Marines,” wrote his father, a career soldier. “(He) felt he let himself down and his family down. He never stopped trying to get back into the service – and in fact tried to get into all of the services – but with his substance abuse discharge he was simply unable.”
Unable to re-enter the military, Patrick tried school again. Over a period of two years, he amassed 21 semester hours in spite of his difficulty with learning. He put himself through bartending school and held a number of increasingly well-paying and prestigious jobs until becoming head bartender at one of Central Florida’s most influential country clubs.
There, disaster struck again. Patrick was accused of providing alcohol to a disabled employee.
“He was supported by nearly all the membership and staff,” Maj. Desmond wrote from Abu Dhabi, “but nevertheless lost. This event devastated Patrick, as he had had the job for a few years and it was a good one. He nearly went into a depression and began drinking a great deal. It took him months to recover.”
The ground began to slide out from under Patrick’s feet. He bought $4,000 worth of cabinet-making tools and went into the construction business, just as Florida’s real estate bubble began to burst. In July, 2006, Patrick was arrested for DUI in Rockledge, FL, where officers found drug paraphernalia and a small amount of cocaine in his car. Because it was his first offense, his case was diverted to the Brevard County Drug Court’s Pretrial Intervention Supervision Program where he was ordered to participate in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program approved by the state.
The Drug Court ordered Patrick into a six-month residential treatment program at a local facility called Bridges of America. Patrick’s lawyer recommended to his parents that, since they had the financial means, they seek a private alternative. The Drug Court administrator gave them just 72 hours to find one. After searching the internet and spending hours on the phone, the Desmonds decided to send Patrick to Narconon, believing it was a secure, inpatient, residential treatment facility where their son would receive professional counseling in a structured, six-month program.
Instead, Patrick died of a drug overdose on June 11, 2008, after drinking with friend at an apartment in patient housing and then leaving with two former patients to try injecting heroin for the first time. His parents are now suing Narconon, alleging wrongful death.