Alcoholics Anonymous has claimed to help thousands of people conquer the evils of ‘daemon rum.’ That may or may not be true; there are no statistics to confirm or deny the claim. The ‘anonymous’ part has revealed a growing problem. Convicted felons often attend meetings, however, under the code of conduct, no member is required to reveal more about him or herself than what exists in their comfort zone. Because of this protection of personal information, AA has developed a dirty little secret; it’s called the thirteenth step.
Joining AA can be voluntary or court ordered. It began in 1935 in Akron, Ohio, but was widely recognized in 1939 when the ’12 step program’ was recognized as a road to sobriety. In its official website, it tells of a history which eventually led to hundreds of thousands of members who maintained their avoidance of alcohol for the remainder of their lives. Its reputation is based on these reports, but there is no evidence that they are based on factual data, because none is recorded due to the much publicized privacy of the organization and its members.
What exists today is what felons and male predators call the ‘thirteenth step.’ While the twelve steps involve recognition regarding the pain that individuals have caused to others, and the pursuit of forgiveness for those they have harmed, the unmentioned but well known thirteenth is a calculated effort to seek control of vulnerable young women in the program for sexual conquest and personal gain.
Karla Mendez was a recovering addict. Her daemons were alcohol and prescription drugs. At 31 years of age, this young California woman believed she had found salvation. She not only had a supportive family, but she also had met a man and believed they would share a fulfilling life together.
Her early life was a struggle between depression and addiction. When she met Eric Allen Earle at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and found an immediate attraction, she believed her life had entered a new phase. Although he told her he had been in and out of the program voluntarily, the truth would prove to be her downfall. Earle was required to attend meetings after he had served time for crimes related to his own addiction.
Earle was one of 150,000 parolees required to attend meetings each year by the penal system. He was also one of thousands of felons who were very aware of the ‘thirteenth step.’
AA members are not encouraged to become romantically involved. In contrast to that belief, Karla and Eric became engaged less than six months after they knew each other. Eric, who had been living with three other men in a community for released felons, moved into Karla’s condominium.
The first sign of a problem was on August 5, 2011. Karla had run down the street from her condo to her friend Suzanne’s house. She was bloodied and disoriented. She said Eric had beat her and held her head under water. Marching back to the condo, Suzanne confronted Earle who was relaxing on the bed. Karla called 911 and Earle was subsequently taken to jail by the authorities. Both of the troubled twosome had been drinking.
The next day, Karla herself bailed Earle out with a credit card. On August 31st, Karla Mendez was dead. Earle called 911 on the morning of her death crying and claiming that she had fallen down the stairs, and when they woke up the next morning she was bruised and apparently deceased.
The evidence presented at trial convinced the jury that he had committed murder in the first degree and was subsequently sentenced from 26 years to life. He has now been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and is unlikely to survive his 26 years.
This case is emblematic of many other women who have become the prey of the 13th step.
The Mendez family is suing Alcoholics Anonymous for negligence. They believe members, who are vulnerable and subject to false support and affection, should be protected from convicted felons whose sole intentions are to prey on these confused and extremely vulnerable women.
By James Turnage