What Happened to Karla Brada?
In what reads like a horror movie script, a California A.A. member was murdered by her boyfriend. In late 2011, Karla Brada was smothered to death by her boyfriend, Eric Earle.
Before we go any further, let’s take a moment of silence for Karla’s family, Eric’s family, and everyone else involved.
Karla and Eric lived in Santa Clarita, the Los Angeles suburb famously dubbed “Hollywood North” and the hometown of Tim Burton and Ashley Tisdale.
On Monday, October 27th, Eric was sentenced to twenty-six years in prison. His sentencing wraps up one of the saddest stories I’ve ever read. Except that it doesn’t. Karla’s family is now suing Alcoholics Anonymous.
You Can Sue A.A.?
In a strange twist of events, Karla Brada’s parents are actually suing various A.A. entities.
Hector and Jeroslava Mendez have filed a wrongful death suit against the Santa Clarita Intergroup office, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., and Patrick and Joanne Fry (the sponsors of both Karla and Eric).
“If this is going to continue with A.A., that they’re sending criminals there, then we need to make people aware of that so that they [A.A. members] know they may be sitting next to a criminal,” Karla’s mother told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.
What Does the Lawsuit Actually Say?
According to the actual civil suit document, Karla’s parents claim Patrick and Joanne Fry “provided counseling to members attending meetings and specifically became sponsors for Karla H. Brada and Eric Allen Earle.”
The legal paperwork goes on to claim that the Frys “facilitated a romantic relationship between them [Brada and Earle].”
As if that wasn’t enough, the lawsuit also claims,
“The defendants … so negligently, carelessly, recklessly, wantonly, and unlawfully treated, counseled and failed to report apparent abuse of the decedent thereby allowing the abuse to continue and escalate as to directly and proximately cause death of the decedent.”
Police and lawyers involved in the trial have identified Eric Earle as “having a history of domestic violence,” after assaulting his ex-wife.
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Misunderstanding How A.A. Works
While I agree that Earle should pay for what he did, I don’t agree that Alcoholics Anonymous should be sued. Taking this one step further, I think Karla Brada’s parents have a fundamental misunderstanding of how A.A. works.
Their claim that Brada and Earle’s sponsors “facilitated a romantic relationship” is ridiculous. The idea that the sponsors were negligent in reporting abuse seems a little strange as well.
I’m a recovering alcoholic who actively sponsors other alcoholics. When a newcomer asks me to sponsor them, I’m very clear with what I can and can’t help them with.
My role, as a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous, is to take others through the twelve-steps and introduce them to a God of their own understanding. I’m not a marriage counselor. I’m not a therapist. I’m certainly not a financial expert. I know about recovery. That’s it.
So, for Brada and Earle’s sponsors to be required to act in a “counselor” position seems unfair. Their responsibility was to take both Karla and Eric through the twelve-steps and then show them how to take others through the steps. Nothing more.
What’s emotional sobriety?
Let’s have another moment of silence for all those suffering, be they alcoholic or normal.
Let’s take Karla Brada’s life and celebrate it, rather than mourn her passing.