Karla Brada Trial
Karla Brada Trial
I was very pleased to receive this link from Monica who runs various websites such as https://stop13stepinaa.wordpress.com , www.LeavingAA.com , and is making a film about safety issues and other problems in AA and the 12 step world http://the13thstepfilm.com . The link concerns a news story on CBS about the sentencing of the Murderer of Karla Brada who went to AA and ended up being killed by another member called Eric Allen Earle. He got 26 years to life despite trying to appear frail in court by making use of a wheelchair, which did not fool anyone.http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/10/27/man-gets-26-years-to-life-in-prison-for-girlfriends-murder-in-2011/
Recovery from addiction is a really hard thing to do, and I respect anybody that tries to do it. Many of us find that being in a group is helpful, especially in the early days of recovery. Most people find their way to AA because it is the most well-known and accessible, and expect it to be a safe place. When I turned up, I was greeted with a lot of warmth and made to feel welcome. There was a lot of talk about God and most meetings take place in Churches and this gives a feeling of safety, even to a non believer like myself. Most people I met were there to help others and although I rejected their approach after a while and feel that some of them were crazy, going to meetings was certainly not something that worried me, although I did see a few instances of poor behaviour.
Unfortunately this is not the case for everyone and people do get hurt. I have been following the Karla Brada case for some time mainly via www.leavingaa.com , and it is a sad story of how a young lady has been killed after meeting a criminal who had been convicted many times and who had been sent to AA by the courts. He has finally been sentenced to prison for a long time. Due to the nature of his crimes, his spell in prison will not be a pleasant experience!
AA was setup in the 1930’s for low bottom male drunks, and is certainly not therapy or a controlled environment like a decent rehab. Many people who arrive in AA welcome some attention, as recovery can be scary or daunting at first. There are those who are on the lookout for vulnerable people, and those who are there to control others.
You also have to remember that many people who end up in AA have been criminals and this was not so much of a problem in small groups in the old days but can be now in big city meetings. AA does not warn people of potential problems at the start of meetings and it is run in a haphazard fashion with no security procedures, which would be difficult in an anonymous fellowship. Although I want to be balanced about this and not attempt to create the idea that AA is a danger to everyone, there are problems and virtually all the women I know, that have attended have been 13 stepped to some degree. There are also some financial predators and other crazy non recovery stuff that people get into.
AA does tell people not to get into relationships in the first year but this does not really protect the vulnerable. There is a constant stream of people who come to AA from rehabs, who seem to think that AA is an extension of rehab, but it is not. If you add to that the drunk drivers who are sent by courts in the USA along with other criminals who are not desperate to recover and you can see the problem. AA seems to do very little about this and probably feels any mention of this would damage its reputation.
Well this lack of action, may well have contributed to Karla’s death, and like it or not, people are going to hear about it. Here is a piece by CBS news and there is more to follow. I also understand that there will be further legal proceedings by Karla’s family. None of this will bring back a young women who had her life ahead of her, but it will hopefully make other people aware of issues they may face.
I would like to see that is made compulsory to read out a short message at the start of meetings to warn newcomers ( this would be more help than chapter 5! ) and that people are given better guidance in rehabs. I cannot see that AA members would want to see another tragedy, but they seem reluctant to do much about it.
People in recovery groups need to take responsibility for their own actions and also be on the lookout for others who are out to exploit those who are vulnerable. It is no good turning a blind eye and then saying it could happen anywhere. Recovery groups should not be pickup groups but something with the structure of AA, is always going to have this going on, especially as established relationships often break up when people change in recovery and people that have made recovery the focus of their life want to be with others, who do the same. Women have to take responsibility for their actions as well. I realise a lot of problems are caused by middle aged men with a few years hitting on younger women, but it is equally true that some young women will throw themselves at men, especially if they have money. People need to take a step back and look at why somebody would want to go out with them, if they are a newcomer in a recovery group! The reasons are often not good! This is something that should be pointed out regularly by those with some time in meetings, but it rarely is. The result is people have difficult relationships, share in meetings about their partner, become the subject of rumours, get gossiped about, and relapse or worse.
I feel really sorry for everyone concerned with this, especially Karla’s family and friends. I hope they feel a bit better now they have some justice, but nothing will ever replace her. I won’t comment on the law suit until after it is over, as I am not close enough to know the facts. I will follow the accounts of others, and hope at the very least, that this raises awareness to a problem that certainly exists, but that many would prefer to ignore. I think they are really brave to do this as they will be subjected to some unpleasant critisism from people, that feel AA is something that should never be attacked.