Parallax Founder & CEO Retires Amid Controversy

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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Friday, October 15, 2010

The head of one of Wichita's leading drug rehabilitation centers has stepped down amid serious allegations of wrongdoing. KAKE News first reported an SRS investigation two weeks ago involving Parallax founder and CEO Milt Fowler.

The state social and rehabilitation services stepped in at the beginning of the month amid countless allegations from employees and even clients. They say they've complained for years and are glad that someone is finally listening.

"I wanted help. I didn't really want to die, but I didn't really want to live like I was," said one former Parallax client.

The former employees and clients spoke to KAKE News on a condition of anonymity after already receiving threats for blowing the whistle on Milt Fowler. Fowler founded Parallax nearly 40 years ago. The business accepts local and state tax revenues to rehabilitate drug and alcohol addicts.

"He kinda took me under his wing," the former client explained. "I looked at him like he was my dad. I could finally trust a man that was older than me that I felt like was going take care of me."

But Fowler, she says, gave her benefits like a vehicle that she desperately needed. Slowly but surely, she told SRS that Fowler began advancing on her sexually in text messages... and then in person. If she didn't comply, he would threaten to punish her.

"I couldn't tell anybody," she said, "because I didn't feel like I had any ground to stand on. I'm a drug addict and he's the CEO of the corporation. Who's going to listen to me?"

A total of seven former employees we spoke to say they were fired by Fowler when they began complaining.

Sedgwick County corrections Director Mark Masterson told KAKE News on the phone Friday that the county has now suspended referrals to Parallax as an option for drug rehab patients until the outcome of the state investigation.

The clients and employees also say part of the investigation involves Fowler's hiring of a registered sex offender in 2008, in which SRS ordered to be terminated twice. They claim the man was finally terminated, but only after SRS launched its investigation into Parallax two weeks ago.

Parallax Board President Danny Bardezbain, a retired Sedgwick County Sheriff's Major, confirms Fowler submitted a letter of retirement this week, but says that it was on his own and that the board did not order Fowler out.

Fowler himself has not returned repeated phone calls for comment. SRS officials confirm an investigation is ongoing, but will not discuss any details or what, if any, criminal charges could be brought forward.

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