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Midtown Group: AA Group Leads Members Away from Traditions

From Sunday's Post, Page A1

When Kristen was 17 and drinking out of control, her psychologist referred her to an Alcoholics Anonymous group that specialized in helping the youngest drinkers. In the Midtown Group, members and outsiders agree, young people could find new friends, constant fellowship, daily meetings, summer-long beach parties, and a charismatic leader who would steer them through sobriety.

But according to more than a dozen young people who structured their lives around the group, the unusual adaptation of AA that Michael Quinones created from his home in Bethesda became a confusing blend of comfort and crisis. They described a rigidly insular world of group homes and socializing, in which older men had sex with teenage girls, ties to family and friends were severed or strained, and the most vulnerable of alcoholics, some suffering from emotional problems, were encouraged to stop taking prescribed medications.

Kristen, now 26, said that for eight years, she was "passed along" from one middle-aged male leader of Midtown to another. She said her sponsor urged her to have sex with Quinones -- widely known as Mike Q. -- as a way to solidify her sobriety and spiritual revival. Kristen, who spoke on the condition that her last name not be used in keeping with AA traditions, also recalled helping to persuade other teenage girls to sleep with older men in the group.

"I pimped my sponsees out to sponsors," she said, referring to the AA members who agree to watch over a fellow member's sobriety. "I encouraged them to sleep with their sponsors because I really believed that this would help with their sobriety."

Rianne McNair, who left Midtown in 2005 after three years in the group, said, "Several of my friends had sex with Mike Q. One of my friends went to the beach house, and her sponsor assigned her to Mike Q.'s bedroom. The younger girls looked up to these guys; Mike is idolized, like, 'I got invited to Mike Q.'s house for dinner tonight. Can you believe it?' "

Midtown, also known as the Q Group after its leader, has expanded steadily to about 400 members since Quinones assumed leadership in the 1980s, but appears to be reaching a turning point. Quinones, a 63-year-old real estate agent who grew up in Baltimore and served in the Army in Vietnam, is fighting an advanced case of prostate cancer, according to group members, friends and relatives. He did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

In response to questions raised by some parents, therapists and churches where Midtown held meetings, the group this spring issued a statement denying improper acts. "We cannot be all things to all people . . . " the statement said. "We do not condone underage sex. While we are not the arbiter of other people's sex conduct, underage sex is illegal and our experience shows that it can endanger your sobriety.

"We cannot tell you what to do with regard to taking medications such as anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, etc. While we have no opinion of medication in general, based on our personal experience, many members of the Midtown Group do not sponsor people who take mood-altering medication."

Outside Quinones's house, young Midtown members who often hang out around the front steps declined to talk to a reporter. A senior member of the group, who is close to Quinones and who spoke on condition he not be named because of AA's tradition of anonymity, said, "Anyone who has anything positive to say about the group is going to respect AA's policy of dignified silence in the media."

Montgomery County police said they are looking into allegations of underage sexual relations. But they said the women who have come forward have told of relationships that took place when they were 16 or 17; Maryland law considers women 15 and younger to be underage. Many of the allegations were aired in Montgomery County District Court in a domestic relations civil suit involving a member of the group.

"We interviewed 15 to 20 people, and they all said he's doing it. But it was all, 'It wasn't me,' " said Montgomery police Sgt. Ron Collins of the department's pedophile section. "Nobody's come forward with anything we could charge him with. The girls can be 16 or 17, and it's legal."
Controlled by Leaders

Over eight decades, Alcoholics Anonymous, a pioneer in the support-group model of treatment, has grown to attract about 2 million members in more than 100,000 groups.

Despite a stellar reputation and worldwide brand, it has never been more than a set of bedrock traditions. It has no firm hierarchy, no official regulations, and exercises no oversight of individual groups. Disgruntled former Midtown members discovered this in recent months when they tried to get the central AA office in New York to condemn Midtown's tactics and departures from the traditions, including a highly unusual practice of assigning older men to sponsor young women.

"The assumption since our founding was that groups that did not follow the traditions and concepts would fall away," said a staff member at AA's General Service Office, who spoke on condition of anonymity "because we are all alcoholics, and that is our policy."

The main office does offer "strong suggestions" for how groups should operate, including how to pair each member with a sponsor who shares confidences and helps the member stay sober. AA recommends that "it's best if a man sponsors a man and a woman sponsors a woman, so that there are not outside distractions," the staffer said.

In Midtown, Quinones and several friends, who are also longtime AA members, have taken on leadership roles that go well beyond the typical part played by organizers of meetings, according to local therapists, ministers and AA members. AA tradition suggests that "our leaders are but trusted servants," the New York staffer said. "They do not govern."

Quinones and other senior members have not only run two dozen weekly meetings across the Washington region but also organized ski trips and summer beach parties, helped young members find jobs at stores such as Nordstrom and the old Hecht's, and encouraged young members to live together in group houses in Gaithersburg, Rockville and Bethesda, members and ex-members said.

"It's like a prepackaged community," said David, 26, a former Midtown member who initially adored the group but now is highly critical of it. "You're thinking, okay, maybe I can stay sober for the rest of my life, but how do I have fun? I went to a different group, and it was 50-year-old men who went bowling on Tuesdays. That wasn't going to do it for me. At Midtown, everything is there for you. Here are your women, here are your dances every weekend, ski trip every March."

But some former members describe the Midtown life as overwhelmingly controlling. McNair said she was pressured to pay $950 for a share in a three-bedroom summer house in which 20 Midtown members slept, most of them on air mattresses on the floor. Kristen described being pressed to pay $1,200 for a summer house share in which she slept on the floor.

Some therapists who used to refer young people to Midtown and some pastors whose churches have hosted Midtown meetings say they have heard of too many disturbing practices to maintain a relationship with the group.

Ellen Dye, a clinical psychologist in Rockville, said two of her clients "suffered significant harm as a result of their involvement with Mike Q. and his followers." One young woman said she was assigned a boyfriend and encouraged to go off her antidepressants and cut off contact with Dye, the psychologist said.

Without her medication, the woman became acutely suicidal and was hospitalized, Dye said. When Midtown members learned that the woman was back on medication, she was ostracized and "was considered to have relapsed," Dye said.

That young woman told The Washington Post that her sponsor in Midtown refused to continue as her adviser if the woman kept taking prescription medications. The sponsor also directed her to stop seeing a therapist " 'because you need one clear voice -- your sponsor's,' " the woman said.

"These are very needy people -- they're young people who can be looking for a parent figure," Dye said. "Mike Q. plays that role. Midtown is doctrinaire and controlling. It's totally against the 'Big Book,' " the written traditions that guide AA groups. Now, Dye said, she warns clients and colleagues about Midtown and even has become reluctant to refer clients to any AA group.

After hearing about sexual relationships inside Midtown, Clancy Imislund, managing director of Midnight Mission, a Los Angeles nonprofit group that serves the homeless, said he asked senior Midtown members about the allegations and found that "there probably have been some excesses, but they have helped more sober alcoholics in Washington than any other group by far."

Imislund, who speaks frequently to AA groups across the country, said he concluded that if sexual relations between older men and young girls "ever did take place, it's not taking place now. It had been an issue, but wherever you have a lot of young, neurotic people, they're going to cling to each other."

Although Imislund portrayed parents of young people in Midtown as "immensely grateful that this group has managed to get their children sober when no one else could," other parents said they were appalled to see the group draw children away from their families.
Barred From Some Churches

Cathy McCleskey became alarmed after hearing her daughter and other young people in Midtown talk about one practice after another that would not occur in most AA groups: They described being told by Midtown's leaders to stop taking medication prescribed by a psychiatrist, being permitted to visit family only in the company of other Midtown members and regularly cleaning Mike Q.'s house, mowing his lawn and doing his laundry. Her daughter had a male sponsor.

"On one hand, she was sober for nine months, and I was so glad that I thought, whatever's happening with this group is fine by me," McCleskey said. "But then, after about a year in Midtown, I got a call that she was in a mental hospital." McCleskey said her daughter remained there for four weeks, depressed and suicidal. The daughter is now out of Midtown and faring well.

McCleskey said she tried to get AA's local coordinating body to look into allegations against Midtown but was told that each group governs itself.

Parents and former members, armed with a recent Newsweek article on the control Midtown exerts over young alcoholics, approached several area churches this summer to ask them to bar the group from meeting at their facilities. A meeting held on Sunday evenings for nearly two decades at the Church of the Pilgrims near Dupont Circle left the church this year after ex-Midtown members provided "detailed and credible allegations," said the Rev. Ashley Goff, director of Christian education at the church. Midtown leaders told pastors they were being criticized unfairly by "disgruntled people who couldn't keep their act together," Goff recalled.

Even though some church members said Midtown had saved them from addiction, church leaders concluded that "this group crossed boundaries in very strong ways," Goff said. "Clearly, they were targeting young women who were in their first rehab program -- the most vulnerable people."

Informed that the church was "about to make a decision about asking them to leave," Goff said, "Midtown came to us and said, 'Oh, our group's gotten too big, and we're going to leave.' "

Goff added: "Our fellowship hall is huge."

At St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Rockville -- the site of one of 20 or so weekly Midtown meetings across the region -- the Rev. Roy W. Howard said that after Midtown leaders refused "to give me an explanation of the allegations against them, I decided to ask them not to meet" at the church anymore. St. Mark still provides facilities for six of the hundreds of Washington area AA groups not connected with Midtown.

And at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Northwest Washington, the Rev. Elizabeth S. McWhorter told congregants in May that although the allegations against Midtown "would have been difficult to prove or disprove," the group "will not be returning to St. Patrick's."

But at United Church of Christ in Bethesda, the Rev. Allison Smith said she concluded that "there was really no bite behind the charges," so "we've decided not to ask them to leave." After meeting with Midtown leaders, Smith said that "maybe there were some incidents of an older male taking advantage of a younger woman who was in recovery, and that's terrible. But was it a systemic policy? We really haven't found anything to back up those charges at the group that meets here."

When Kristen left Midtown, she was utterly alone. "Everyone in my cellphone was Midtown," she said. "I was 24, and I knew literally nobody. I had cut off my ties with my family at the direction of my sponsor."

"Eight years of my life was wasted," Kristen said.

By Marc Fisher |  July 22, 2007; 12:14 AM ET
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Comments

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How does one get a copy of the open letter that Dr. Ellen Dye sent to the recovery community? thank you

Posted by: gerald e marti | July 22, 2007 8:14 AM

How does one get a copy of the open letter that Dr. Ellen Dye sent to the recovery community? thank you

Posted by: gerald e marti | July 22, 2007 8:14 AM

Thank you for the thoughtful article on the Midtown AA group. As a woman with 26-plus years in recovery with AA as my foundation, it saddens me to read what you wrote but I can believe it.

I was so very fortunate to fall into an AA community in Philadelphia that was the ideal--good kind loving folks who advised and did not try to take over lives. They practiced what they preached and took fragile women like me under their wings.

I was warned by the older women to "keep your skirt down, Honey..that's not what you're here for...there's plenty of time for that." But I was also fortunate that my anxiety gave me some good radar for predatory types.

AA is a collection of human beings who are admittedly flawed. My experience over the years is that any group of humans has pretty much the same percentage of idiots, lechers, pedantics, angels, pseudo-heroes, etc. I would venture to say that I could find pretty similar percentages in a meeting of a town council, an editorial board :), a Police Athletic League, etc.

AA is about spiritual principles for living a good life. Those principles are in writing but there's more oral tradition that not, and that's where the variations occur. That's also the goodness, by the way.

For me, the fact that this is being made public is a very good thing. The group should dissolve. That's not AA....that's power run amok, just another addictive drug, in my experience.

My name is Kathleen and I am an alcoholic, grateful to my loving and protective AA family---and to the idiots in AA who taught me to discern.

Kathleen Houston
Philadelphia, PA

Posted by: kathleen houston | July 22, 2007 8:59 AM

When is the local Washington Area Intergroup Association going to address this issue?

Posted by: J.P. from WDC | July 22, 2007 9:28 AM

Thank you Marc Fisher.

Posted by: J.P. from WDC | July 22, 2007 9:29 AM

I was a member of AA for 16 years and left due to the abuse, psychological, sexual and physical, and I am one of many leaving. What occurs in Mid-Town occurs across the country, including Clancy's group. I know because I have lived in 5 states and witnessed the behavior and can name the groups. It is as unconscionable to me that AA does not accept responsibilty for their internal problems in much the way another religious organization has not, Catholic Church. The founder of AA was never anonymous, speaking across the country, using his last name, while promoting the disease concept. Telling those who are suffering from a biological/physical problem, they suffer from a, "spiritual malady," is fraud.

Posted by: Beth Kirkland | July 22, 2007 11:06 AM

I was a member of AA for 16 years and left due to the abuse, psychological, sexual and physical, and I am one of many leaving. What occurs in Mid-Town occurs across the country, including Clancy's group. I know because I have lived in 5 states and witnessed the behavior and can name the groups. It is as unconscionable to me that AA does not accept responsibilty for their internal problems in much the way another religious organization has not, Catholic Church. The founder of AA was never anonymous, speaking across the country, using his last name, while promoting the disease concept. Telling those who are suffering from a biological/physical problem, they suffer from a, "spiritual malady," is fraud.

Posted by: Beth Kirkland | July 22, 2007 11:06 AM

Why are you posting AA member's last names in this article?

Posted by: patrick b | July 22, 2007 1:46 PM

It's pretty simple, folks:

If they were forcing people to do anything to be a member of their group, they were not, are not, and never will be an AA group.

And if they have done or are doing anything illegal, they are accountable to society just as anyone else.

I can claim that my condo is Temple Beth-El, but that doesn't make it so.

And it doesn't make me immune from any criminal activity I may commit there.

End of story.

I have been sober over 20 years in AA and never, not once, has anyone made me do anything. Period.

It's against the Traditions of AA, and that would be obvious to anyone with even the most cursory reading of those Traditions.

Why don't psychologists, treatment centers, et al bring in REAL AA members to teach their clients about the AA Traditions?

Why don't they ask some simple questions about what was going on (before, during and after) at the meetings they're sending their clients to?

Why don't they themselves (since they are recovery "professionals") regularly attend open AA meetings and meet regularly with the local AA Cooperation with the Professional Community Committee to make sure they know what AA was really all about?

Instead, AA seems to have become a dumping ground for anyone, alcoholic or not, that society, families and hospitals don't know how to deal with.

"Give them an attendance card and send them to AA!"

Doesn't seem to matter whether their alcoholic or not.

Alcoholics Anonymous is for desperate alcoholics who are beyond treatment.

It's not day camp for people with problems who happened to be around a bottle or a bag when they got caught.

If treatment centers and hospitals are now going to scrutinize more closely where they send their clients, especially their younger clients--I say "GREAT!"

As a long-time AA member I am happy to help any alcoholic that wants the help I have to offer.

But we can't be all things to all people.

And when AA members don't stand up for their Traditions; don't inform new members that, although they are welcome to open AA meetings, AA is really for desperate alcoholics; don't stick our singleness of purpose --One Alcoholic Helping Another Alcoholic--all kinds of shenanigans sneak in the side door.

Posted by: A Anonymous | July 22, 2007 3:15 PM

While I am a stickler for Traditions, I think AA should publicly distance itself from this group.

I have been told by a couple misguided and ignorant sponsors that taking psychotropic medication was wrong. I fired both sponsors rather quickly. You DON'T do that. A sponsor is not qualified to give medical advice nor run someone's life. They are an adviser to take you through the steps and sobriety. When a solution is required to a problem, the answer (from a sponsor) should usually come from the Big Book or "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions."

The Big Book even states "we do not disregard human health measures." This is not AA's position to be anti-medication and these sponsors ought to seriously reconsider the type of AA they are preaching REGARDLESS of their personal views. Grow up people!

It is refreshing to see a former member of the group ADMIT that they did wrong while they were with this group. If the entire group evaluates their conduct and changes their behavior, this group might have a chance. MIGHT.

Posted by: Pete M. | July 22, 2007 4:27 PM

Why are they trying to punish the midtown group as a whole. Why not just punish those individuals? There are people who are doing the right thing and want to stay sober in that group. If a black person robs a white person are you going to blame all black people? Come on now.....

Posted by: anonymous | July 22, 2007 5:52 PM

As a parent of a young woman who spent many years in the Midtown group, I can attest to the truth of the allegations made by many of the former members. My daughter almost never came around without other Midtown members. She was discouraged from spending time with her family. She was pressured to spend the requisite $1000 per summer for the share in the beach house. She gave all her time to the group, attending meetings daily, cleaning peoples houses, living in group homes, etc., etc. This is all not to say that the group does not have any good qualities. I know it has helped young people stay sober. But at the very high price of emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse.

Posted by: Parent Anonymous | July 22, 2007 8:13 PM

why would you print peoples last names as alcoholics, also this is a regurgetated story come up with something original, poor poor Kathy and her Pot smoking husband

Posted by: annonymous | July 22, 2007 10:58 PM

I have attended AA in the DC area since 2003. I began by attending young peoples groups in Northern Virginia and have been to quite a few midtown meeting and dances. Midtown is a cult and every young AA in this area member knows that. In Midtown you dont have sponsee's, they call them "pigeons". They force you to have a sponsor that is a member of Midtown and that is where the madness begins. They make you run errands and treat you like a slave. I heard a lot of rumors and asked members of Midtown about them, mainly the medication restrictions, and yes it is very true. They also have resrictions about being out past midnight, not being allowed to enter a business thats serves alcohol and many other rigid rules that are completely againt AA's traditions and steps simply because there are no rules in AA, there are only suggestions and you take them or you dont, it doesnt matter as long as you stay sober. But when you are ostricized and punished for not following suggestions then a line has definately been crossed. Then you hear about the beach house scandal, which I have known about for years, not to mention the underage sex, a ditator like leader, vunerable young people with addiction and mental health issues, unqualified people making medical decisions, and you got a full fledged cult. Everyone in Midtown knows this is true, as well as many ex Midtown members. Its a cult camofloged as AA. Midtowns leader isnt talking because he is guilty as sin. Im glad the hammer is coming down on these people, I hope criminal charges occur. People should come forward within Midtown and end this insanity. One more thing, no one said anything about the 13th step, which happens to be mandatory in Midtown. Any one who denys what I have said is following orders from you know who or has probably had sex with a someone half their age.

Posted by: P $ | July 22, 2007 11:20 PM

I think that this story was very informative. I was in that group for three years and I would like to say here and now, the things that Midtown is being accused of are very true. Infact, there is even more than that! For instance, did you know that Mike Q's cell phone bill is paid for by the people he sponsers? AA's tradition 7 speaks of being self-supporting. I would think that would not only apply to the meetings themselves, but the people who attend them! Sleeping with underage kids when you are sixty-something is wrong no matter how you spin it. Yes... there are some good people in Midtown who have simply been mislead and brainwashed. There are those who I am more than proud to call my friends. Unfortunatly, the "leaders" have such a hold on those people that it's not as simple as just seperating the "good from the bad". I encourage everyone who has experience to come forward with what they know! The way I look at it, you have a choice. You can sit back and say nothing or you can take a stand and try to stop the things you've seen and/or were done to you from happening to someone else. As for the medication issue, regardless of what the Midtown folk say, you ARE told to get off your meds! What if you don't? I was told that I was not REALLY sober if I didn't stop taking them. I was told that I needed "one clear voice" and that if I continued to see my therapist, I was just trying to get answers that went against what my sponser may have "given me direction" to do! People from that group have already died because of their sponser's direction! Examples? I won't mention names, but here it goes: What about the girl with the eating disorder? Wasn't she told that her problem was alcoholisim? Yes she has that, but she also needed treatment for anorexia! She helped me so much when I was new to the program. Where is she now? She died about two years ago as a result of untreated illnesses. What about the guy two summers ago who killed himself after being directed by his Midtown sponser to get off his anti-depressants?!?! How can these things get over looked? Everyone has a right to their opinion,but if you don't believe my experiences or others who have come forward, go online and google a cult checklist. See how it adds up. Be honest when you answer the questions and see what results you get at the end of the list.

One last thing... I think that it is awesome that comments can be left regarding this article! But regardless I think that we should all respond to eachother like ladies and gentlemen. We are adults here and attacking others and their personal lives (which, odds are, you/I/we know nothing about) is just plain childish and unclassy. Love and Tolerance is our code, remember?

Posted by: An Ex Midtown Member | July 22, 2007 11:36 PM

This article is a shame - a shame that the press, who AA has befriended since our beginnings in 1935, has used full names AND pictures of AA members. A shame that so many have distorted the true purpose of what AA has done for so many suffering alcoholics. I have been a member of AA for a long time and I have been in Midtown and other AA groups around the world. I found more sex happening in small towns than i have ever encountered in DC AA. The members of Midtown are sober, recovering alcoholics whose primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. I WANTED to be in a beach house - that's where I learned how to take care of a house, so that when I went home and vacuumed and did dishes, my mother was shocked and impressed. I had never lifted a finger before that - so I went from being a taker to being available to her - the first amends I was able to make. I didn't do laundry until I got sober - I didn't take care of myself at all and I learned PHYSICAL sobriety, which to me encompasses taking care of myself, when I got sober in the Midtown group. My sponsor has helped me in every area of my life, by showing me how to use the principles of the 12 steps in my life. "practice these principles in all our affairs". I still talk to my sponsor, I still attend meetings, I still have friends (both in and out of AA), I am very involved with my family, I have a career, I have a very full life. I would not have it any other way and I do NOT believe any of the allegations, as I know the people alleging these terrible things. I pray that you all find peace in your Higher Power and perhaps you will learn to take an inventory of YOURSELF. God Bless.

Posted by: GodBless | July 23, 2007 8:38 AM

I was in the midtown group for over a year and all of this and more is true. Ironically, when I left the group my sponsor told me I "didn't have what it takes to be sober", then he left the group a year later when it was decided that only those sponsored directly or indirectly by Mike Q himself were allowed to vote in the Group Conscience (business meetings for AA groups). This group is a cult, anyone who says differently either doesn't know them or is brainwashed.

Posted by: Dan | July 23, 2007 9:34 AM

Someone should ask the Church of the Pilgrims what the capacity of their fellowship hall really is, i.e. an actual number per the fire marshal. In addition they might want to ask what that hall feels like in the middle of August with 350+ people in it and no air conditioning. Then they could check the crime stats on muggings and car break ins within a 5 block radius of that church.

Posted by: anonymous | July 23, 2007 9:34 AM

Thank you A Anonymous, for your comments. I have been sober now since 1986 and completely second the notion that AA can be both a "dumping ground" and a place where rebellious young people, who are by no measure alcohlics, wind up then their parents and the courts try to fix them. It is particularly those young people who can fall prey to the mental and sexual abuse of a cultlike situation such as Midtown.

As for those who question the publishing of names and photos, the whole concept of AA is that you don't "out" other folks, as in the statement, "What you see here, what you say here, let it stay here." However, that in no way prevents individuals from publicly proclaiming their own alcoholism and telling the world they got sober through AA.

I only wish Bill W. and Doctor Bob were still alive--they would have the moral authority to step in and stop this despicable behavior that's done in the AA name.

Posted by: Jack | July 23, 2007 9:54 AM

From a media point of view, your article, Mr. Fisher, showed a much better attempt at trying to get both sides in the story than the Newsweek article did. You included quotes from Midtown's statement of purpose (which, by the way, I read last fall so it was not issued this spring as a response to any one thing) and you managed to speak to a church representative that said she had not found any reason to disallow group members to meet there. Thank you for that. I know it is hard to get the other side of the story when people are uncomfortable with talking to you.

What I don't understand is why you included Mike Q's last name and a photo of him when, clearly, anonymity is a big issue here. Why do you grant Kristen her anonymity but not someone else? It's the same double standard many newspapers engage in when they print the names of alleged rapists but not the names of those who are accusing them. That's somewhat of a controversy among editors and journalists. Was there a discussion that took place before the Post decided to break full anonymity in this article?

Lastly, I am glad that there is a forum here where people can air out their feelings in a healthy manner. There are certainly some very hurt people here, but their experience seems to speaking louder than the majority. As in any large group of people--especially young people--you're bound to get some jerks. A sponsor does not dictate someone's life, he or she gives suggestions. It's up to the sponsee or pigeon (I've heard the term pigeon used in every group around the country I've been to) to decide whether or not to take that direction. A sponsor does not, as the article says, look over one's sobriety. Rather, a sponsor is someone who guides someone else through the 12 Steps. There are bad sponsors everywhere. There are great sponsor's everywhere. As someone who's been sober and in AA, it's my responsibility to find the right sponsor for me. In my case, that means someone who has showed me how to live sober, held me accountable for showing up for my own life--rather than running and hiding--and guided me through the steps. It has not always been easy or comfortable, but the plain hard facts are that my life has flourished since I've been sober, my old friends and family are VERY happy I'm not drinking anymore and grateful to have me back in their life. I have new friends who love me and would do anything within their means to help me if I asked.

I am a member of Midtown and honestly have NO idea where these allegations are coming from--it has not been my experience. If anything like that was going on before, it certainly hasn't been for the past few years. I am grateful I've found a solution for my old way of life and a group of loving people who will share it with me.

Posted by: Grateful | July 23, 2007 9:59 AM

Shame on all the psychaitrists and other professionals referring clients to a faith-healing, sometimes cultish "church" where they MUST become powerless over the "disease that talks to them", and meetings are usually opened and closed with prayers...."Our father who...". A powerlessness that expands into all areas of one's life requiring constant direction from whatever god, and "acceptance" of everything. Many harmed ex-members post in several online groups.

Posted by: henry | July 23, 2007 10:17 AM

Shame on all the psychaitrists and other professionals referring clients to a faith-healing, sometimes cultish "church" where they become must powerless over a "disease that talks to them", and meetings are usually opened and closed with prayers...."Our father who...". A powerlessness that expands into all areas of one's life requiring constant direction from whatever god, and "acceptance" of everything. Many harmed ex-members post in several online groups.

Posted by: henry | July 23, 2007 10:18 AM

Marc Fisher, you have completely disrespected the AA community by going against AA traditions.

Posted by: Jorge | July 23, 2007 10:30 AM

Marc Fisher, you have completely disrespected the AA community by going against AA traditions.

Posted by: Jorge | July 23, 2007 10:30 AM

What the readers should know is that over the last few years countless attempts and requests for help were made to the local Intergroup (WAIA) office and GSO to address issues with Midtown internally. These countless attempts were made in an effort to avoid public controversy due to it being an "inside" issue. These requests for help came from parents, the local AA community, as well as ex-midtown members. For years these allegations have prevailed but no one has been willing to address it or talk about it much less take action. Particularly WAIA, who's board of directors have been composed of more Midtown members than non-Midtown members until recently. Creating a public controversy has been the absolute LAST avenue taken to make sure that the newcomers and young members of this group are aware of the potential harms which can happen to them by being members. Is it unprecedented in AA? Maybe, does that make it wrong to use any avenue to protect the vulnerable newcomer from rape and the "illegal" advice to stop taking their anti-psychotic medication which is an everyday occurance in this group. Is not having the public controversy of AA more important than saving even 1 life if it can be saved? No, I do not believe so. AA will survive but hopefully Midtown, as it is today, will not. We would not be here posting comments and reading front page articles about this cult had the local WAIA taken any steps to remove this group from the Where and When. Will they do it now is the question??? It is yet to be seen.

Posted by: Anonymous AA | July 23, 2007 11:02 AM

It's not up to journalists to respect the AA traditions, it's up to AA members. Midtown's predatory culture is getting what's theirs -- going after girls in their first year of sobriety is depicable, preying on the weak and bad karma, not to mention putting the girls' sobriety @ risk. The rationales their members use are actually much more malignant, ridiculous and selfish than Mr. Fisher portrayed. What goes around comes around.

Posted by: NoName | July 23, 2007 11:22 AM

It's not up to journalists to respect the AA traditions, it's up to AA members. Midtown's predatory culture is getting what's theirs -- going after girls in their first year of sobriety is depicable, preying on the weak and bad karma, not to mention putting the girls' sobriety @ risk. The rationales their members use are actually much more malignant, ridiculous and selfish than Mr. Fisher portrayed. What goes around comes around.

Posted by: NoName | July 23, 2007 11:22 AM

I compliment Marc Fisher on his excellent article. I have no personal knowledge of Midtown but, for years, have heard whispers of Mike Q. Although I am now 80 years old I am not totally senile and I got a very clear sense of what Mike Q was doing. My contact group was outside the beltway and had no partcular contact with Midtown except attendees of daytime meetings (a lot of them young, 20 to 30 years, I would guess) might have split their meeting times with Midtown. These kids were great and I see no reason for young women to be hit upon by old predatory men when they are in a very painful and vulnerable time of getting off alcohol and turning their lives around (truly!!). The account is most disturbing and frankly I find the portrait of this aging immature man frightening.

Thinking about how one changes this I belive that one of the principles of our fellowship in finding a sponsor is to find someone of the SAME SEX as a guide. This a very sound "rule of thumb" and should be followed. The idea of pairing a past middle age man with a teen teen age girl is obviously not based on help with drinking. The average middle aged man does not want to spend a lot of time with a teen age girl. Their interests generally do not coincide unless you put sex into the pot. If sex is the object this is not a healthy realtionship. Mike Q fits the picture of an immature man seeking such relationships which can lead to heartache for teenage girls. And in this case, it also appears he is dangerous because of improper advice (family relations, doctore relations, drugs, etc. He should be asked to step down and go elsewhere.

Unfortunately the internal governing bodies (providing advice and finances to some extent from NY) have not been well served by the voluntary service of serious individuals. By this I mean that service on the internal governing bodies is not exactly exciting and I don't think many people volunteer for this prosaic bit of AA. It is hard to figure out whether more active service on such bodies can control the behavior of one person of a meeting who is out of control and seems to have taken on a cult like personna.

I encourage the stance of some of the churches who have decided, upon hearing of the activities of this group, to ask AA, in this case Midtown, to find another venue. Lack of a place of meeting should cool some of this activity.

I can't say enough good things for the overall reach and teachings and support of most AA meetings and the fellowship of other suffering alcoholics who are just outstanding. It is a shame to have a blot put on the good work of AA by such an unhealthy and sick man.

Dorothy Morris Mudd (I don't mind going public)

Posted by: Dorothy Morris Mudd | July 23, 2007 12:17 PM

The journalists who write these articles have little knowledge of AA, and get their information from the small group of people who are taking out their own personal frustrations on the Midtown group.

Posted by: Jorge | July 23, 2007 12:18 PM

I am 27 and from Richmond, got sober when I was 18 yrs old through AA groups that followed the traditions. We learned to have fun through helping others, not having sex with eachother.

I have been to these Midtown meetings and they are masked very well as a good AA meeting. In the end, they are not following traditions and if it ain't AA it won't stay. Midtown will fall when the dirty old man Mike Q. passes. AA will live on forever because Bill and Dr. Bob made sure to emphasize the primary purpose of helping others, especially through service work, not servicing an old man.

Posted by: Real Alcoholic | July 23, 2007 12:23 PM

I compliment Marc Fisher on his excellent article. I have no personal knowledge of Midtown but, for years, have heard whispers of Mike Q. Although I am now 80 years old I am not totally senile and I got a very clear sense of what Mike Q was doing. My contact group was outside the beltway and had no partcular contact with Midtown except attendees of daytime meetings (a lot of them young, 20 to 30 years, I would guess)and might have split their meeting times with Midtown. These kids were great and I see no reason for young women to be hit upon by old predatory men when they are in a very painful and vulnerable time of getting off alcohol and turning their lives around (truly!!). The account is most disturbing and frankly I find the portrait of this aging immature man frightening.

Thinking about how one changes this I belive that one of the principles of our fellowship in finding a sponsor is to find someone of the SAME SEX as a guide. This a very sound "rule of thumb" and should be followed. The idea of pairing a past middle age man with a teen teen age girl is obviously not based on help with drinking. The average middle aged man does not want to spend a lot of time with a teen age girl. Their interests generally do not coincide unless you put sex into the pot. If sex is the object this is not a healthy realtionship. Mike Q fits the picture of an immature man seeking such relationships which can lead to heartache for teenage girls. And in this case, it also appears he is dangerous because of improper advice (family relations, doctore relations, drugs, etc. He should be asked to step down and go elsewhere.

Unfortunately the internal governing bodies (providing advice and finances to some extent from NY) have not been well served by the voluntary service of serious individuals. By this I mean that service on the internal governing bodies is not exactly exciting and I don't think many people volunteer for this prosaic bit of AA. It is hard to figure out whether more active service on such bodies can control the behavior of one person of a meeting who is out of control and seems to have taken on a cult like personna.

I encourage the stance of some of the churches who have decided, upon hearing of the activities of this group, to ask AA, in this case Midtown, to find another venue. Lack of a place of meeting should cool some of this activity.

I can't say enough good things for the overall reach and teachings and support of most AA meetings and the fellowship of other suffering alcoholics who are just outstanding. It is a shame to have a blot put on the good work of AA by such an unhealthy and sick man.

Dorothy Morris Mudd (I don't mind going public)

Posted by: Dorothy Morris Mudd | July 23, 2007 12:31 PM

Now that we know the problem let's deal with the solution. Killing the whole group and labeling everyone associated with Midtown as pedophiles and predators is not solving anything. Every group has its issues. Deal with it.

Posted by: Bill | July 23, 2007 1:13 PM

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Everyone who is accusing Midtown of false allucations, and accusing the Midtown group of not following the traditions by going to the newspaper and press are breaking the traditions themselves.
Here the the 12 traditions of AA, read carefully the 10th and 11th tradition-

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

5. Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance
or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

I have been a member of the Midtown group for 3 1/2 years, I have seen hundreds of people being helped daily, the ratio of people being helped to the people that portay themselves as victims and dont want help is VERY large.

If people claim that the group will fall soon you are very wrong, the group has been around for decades and has helped thousands of people, why would it fall right now? The people in Midtown are very loyal and will go to any length to help another alcoholic, the ors that are being started should not be in the press, if you dont like a certain AA group, or AA sponser, or dont like how a group is run, goto another meeting untill you find one that you do like, there are over 100,000.

With that being said i hope that everyone looks at both sides of the story and not just one. I love all people, even the ones that are saying such things about Midtown, and i wish the best for them and for there lives, Midtown has saved my life and i hope that everyone can find somehting that will save there live.


Posted by: A trusted servent | July 23, 2007 1:26 PM

To "A trusted servant": Please wake up and stop drinking the kook-aid. Read the 4th Tradition of AA.: With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the Trustees of the General Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.

Midtown's "customs" are affecting neighboring groups. Medical professionals have reported they will stop sending people to AA and public entities (churches) have kicked out Midtown meetings, clearly damaging the name of AA in the local public sector, again affecting neighboring groups. I know no one consulted my homegroup before engaging in malicious acts? Various people have already consulted the trustees. Call GSO and ask how many calls they've gotten from people complaining about Mike and his followers. They have gotten the "this is a local issue response". This group is a cancer and like a cancer must be removed before the body is destroyed. What more do you need? It's on the cover of the Washington Post, front and center, first and last names. If you, your friends, or Q himself has issues stop hiding behind the guise of anonymity. Sue the hell out of the post for libel, make it a closed hearing and protect your anonymity (if that is really the case), and get some credibility for your group. The Washington Post doesn't get behind a story, let alone put it on the front page if they can't back it up, legally or otherwise. Wake up, get yourself to real AA.

Posted by: Jayne P. | July 23, 2007 2:48 PM

To "A trusted servant": Please wake up and stop drinking the kook-aid. Read the 4th Tradition of AA.: With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the Trustees of the General Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.

Midtown's "customs" ARE affecting neighboring groups. Medical professionals have reported they will stop sending people to AA, and public entities (churches) have kicked out Midtown meetings, CLEARLY damaging the name of AA in the local public sector, again affecting neighboring groups. I know no one consulted my homegroup before engaging in malicious acts? Various people have already consulted the trustees. Call GSO and ask how many calls they've gotten from people complaining about Mike and his followers. They have gotten the "this is a local issue response". This group is a cancer and like a cancer must be removed before the body is destroyed. What more do you need? It's on the cover of the Washington Post, front and center, first and last names. If you, your friends, or Q himself has issues stop hiding behind the guise of anonymity. Sue the hell out of the post for libel, make it a closed hearing and protect your anonymity (if that is really the case), and get some credibility for your group. The Washington Post doesn't get behind a story, let alone put it on the front page if they can't back it up, legally or otherwise. Wake up, get yourself to real AA.

Posted by: Jayne P. | July 23, 2007 2:50 PM

How many people are complaining? 50, 100?
How many people stayed sober?

People don't go to AA because they are perfect citizens. Everybody who starts in AA has problems of one kind or another. They go to AA to get sober and develop a network of sober people.

If they have more then 1 problem they should get the second problem addressed some where else. AA is for helping you to stay sober.

AA has become a place where mental health providers to send people with out insurance to get free group counseling.

Please don't think this is just an AA issue. This is an issue of parents not doing there job and raising the children properly. This is an escape for Mental health providers seeing there customers insurance run out.

AA doesn't help you get dates, AA doesn't correct life's problems; AA is to help you stay sober.

In every group of people across the planet you will get good people, bad people and strange people. OK Q may not have followed AA traditions, I get it!

In the article it stated no criminal charges were brought for any of these events. Mental health workers are rethinking dumping there customers in AA when the insurance runs out. Parents are looking closer at there kids behavior. People are more aware of predatory behavior. People are talking about things that are not perfect and trying to improve on them. And AA is still helps people stay sober.

Posted by: Tim K | July 23, 2007 5:13 PM

To all those doubters about the practices of Midtown against young women,I am here to attest they are all true. I have,and continue to,sponsor women who have fallen vitim to their practices and it's appaling.Thank God they got away and were able to assimilate into other AA groups in DC.The pain,confusion,anxiety,and rejection they felt when they did and DIDN'T go along with their practices is overwhelming. The theory that those speaking out have something against the Midtown group is ridiculous-this just serves as a rationalization of their sick,sick practices.Something needs to be done to stop them and their dangerous,damaging practices in which they twist a beautiful program to suit their own needs.Shame on you. Bill Wilson would be appaled.

Posted by: CaringSponsor | July 23, 2007 11:04 PM

Great May Newsweek and even better Sunday Post. Anybody in recovery even loosely associated with AA in Northwest DC has credible knowledge of the routine practices Marc Fisher described; those that Mike Q. has systematically and deliberately perpetrated for at least the fifteen years I've been around. Anybody from Midtown or neighboring Groups who denies anything that was printed in the Post is likely stupid or drunk. Sorry, we can't hide behind the Traditions on this one...I am grateful to Marc Fisher. He's done what we (AA members) could not do for ourselves.
I can understand blogs from some Midtown members feeling smeared in this and don't want to be painted with the Q- tip, but it's illuminating to me that nobody has stepped forward to defend Mike Quiones..(I would never take anyone's inventory..not me, never) can't be because he's such a great guy and he's been practicing these principles in all his affairs. But seriously, it's probably because he no longer is "misunderstood"...a defense we've been hearing for years.
Thousands of young people have acheived sobriety at Midtown. Once this cancer (Mike Q. and his Lieutenants) has been removed, think of how many more will get sober at Midtown and actually feel good about themselves,and have a shot at happiness with freedom from predators and cults, and ultimately, freedom from the bondage of addiction.

Posted by: Tom S. Alexandria, VA | July 24, 2007 12:32 AM

Yeah, I was in Midtown for a while and it is deserving of condemnation and all the attributations of "cult" status. It is a dangerous and abusive society, which uses AA as cover, to brainwash. It does sound nuts, but after I was discharged from hospital and inpatient treatment center I unknowingly got involved with the group. Thankfully I could see that the advice and structure were antithetical to all I had been taught about AA in treatment. However, the lure of orgy parties and more friends and connections then I had ever had were enticing. They appear young, perfessional, kind and well-groomed (ha, inside joke). I can see how teens can think that the Midtown/ Mike Q or Clany groups are the answer. Warning: Walk away b/c the ostracizing down the road is very hard to manage...you will waste a lot of your recovering life worring about status in the cult and away from rebuiling relationships with real friends and family. Do not drink the kool aid on the Midtown fellowship or Clany's groups!

Posted by: Mike S | July 24, 2007 2:22 AM

Thank you Kathleen H. for your fine comments and thank you to all the Midtown people who have spoke out on this blog.

As a So Cal AA member with 20 yrs. I was dismayed at Clancy Imislund's mild response to this. A person of his stature should be roundly condemning what is going on and listening to more victims before summing up the problem as "clingy people." WTF?!?

Granted, AA's tradition of non-governance is important and well thought out. But when a problem of this magnitude and duration comes up, powerful old-timers should forcefully oppose it, IMO.

Narcissistic crackpots do sometimes go off the deep end when coming in contact with some of the group dynamics of AA. On rare occasions they head off in a cultic direction. Charles Diedrich and Synanon comes to mind.

From the AA perspective this case is actually worse: Synanon very quickly ceased to look anything like AA and didn't attempt to retain any similarities. It became an out and out cult pretty quickly. Midtown is worse because it has gone on for years and retains the trappings and sanction of AA, thus tarnishing A.A.'s reputation over and over... ad inifinitum.

We had a group around here that got pretty weird: Dog On The Roof. They literally drove across the county and took over an old, popular Saturday night speaker meeting by stacking a steering commitee meeting and ram-rodding votes through to elect their kool-aid drinkers to the service positions. F***ing ruined the meeting. It started attracting some young Pacific Group clones. I set up enough chairs over the years in that meeting to fill The Colliseum and here I was 5 or 8 years sober and I get some ass-clown with a crew cut and 90 days getting in my face asking me "how is my program?" LOL

This kind of stuff is just TOO damaging to the reputation of A.A. There is no need to put up with kind of crap. "Midtown" and Ephedophile Q.-Man should be driven out of business, Traditions or no Traditions.

Posted by: Peter R. | July 24, 2007 4:24 AM

There is no AA Tradition that allows corruption to hide behind anonymity.
Mike Ouinones, Clancy Imislund and the late Hugh McGee should be exposed as the pimps, and procurers, they are.
Out them and let the true message of AA continue to flourish. Protect them and AA will rot, from within.

Posted by: Lee Clarke | July 24, 2007 9:24 AM

Notice how the average, non AA reader has nothing to say? This is mostly local AA chat of people well aquianted with the problem who lack the backbone to show -up and stare the problem down in the flesh.But I love you guys all of you, Midtowners too! Of the literally thousands of people that I know locally in AA. None of them will go to Midtown collectively to provide a more attractive option to these "victims, mental patients, and sex addicts". The whole sex thing is ridiculous! I met Mike 22 years ago. He had a girlfriend my age, a 20 years difference at the time. To me, it was obvious that this man suffered a character disorder with sexual manifestations. I was a psycho not a pychologist. For years I have gaped with incredulity at the parade of cute young girls willing to throw themselves at this Somewhat, well-spoken not very attractive pot-bellied narcissist. All his little toadies are equally un-impressive.
AA is a place where we are taught, even in Midtown to take responsibility for our OWN actions. How do well meaning AA's let this go on and not go down there to give the Midtowners a better message. If you think this effects AA as a whole get your sponsees in a car and go down there and do something.
TRADITION 12- is there to protect us from ourselves and desire to be known as some special case. It leads us in a circle back to tradition one, We all hang together or we die separately, as sufferers of a common problem we share our common solution. This is our problem, AA as a whole. It does not belong to WAIA, GSO or especially Newsweek, or the Washington Post. We can solve this with Love and Service if we go.

Posted by: Bleeed ing deacon | July 24, 2007 10:08 AM

Isn't it funny that Kristen, Rianne, and Andrew and two or three others are the only people that are making these allegations of systemic issues in the Midtown Group? All others interviewed say that this is not a systemic problem and that people are fallable and anything bad can happen anywhere in any group of people. Older men sleeping with underage girls happens in schools but no one calls it systemic there. While Mike Q has girlfriends much younger than him, it is not a crime. Women who are attracted to him date him. It is legal and not forced. Case closed.

I know all three of these people personally and I know that they are all lying. They just got resentful because they didn't get their way. Kristen dated Mike for years and smiled all the way. No one forced her into a relationship with him or anyone else for that matter. I know her personally and while I believe that she was a good person and a friend when I knew her and though I do not know how she is now, I am sure that her mind has been warped and sickened for her to say the awful things she says. I only hope that she can stay sober and seek help.

I have been a member of the Midtown group since I got sober in 2000 when I was 15. As an underage girl, I was never pressured into dating anyone or to have underage sex. I was also on medication and in psychotherapy for my first year and no one told me to stop taking the medication. It was my decision alltogether. Because I have experience taking medication, I have no qualms about sponsoring people who take medication (as one of my pigeons does) as long as they rely on AA and not the pill to keep them sober. Some people really need those medications and they should continue to take them if they are a necessity. Midtown does not draw its members away from their families, in fact it pulls them together. I have a very close bond with my family now. In fact, my Mother called me Sunday morning when she read the paper and was deeply saddened by the article because she knows it is not true. My Mom and Dad have attended many meetings of the Midtown group and they love the group and credit it with saving my life and reuniting our family.

I am deeply saddened that the Washington Post would print full names and pictures of AA members. GSO sends a letter every year to major press outlets asking that they respect our traditions and abide by them. Washington Post: Please apologize. I expect better from such a normally reputable paper. And for you Marc Fisher: you should check your sources before you print slander. Check their back stories and their motives. You shall see.

Lets all take our OWN inventories so we don't have to stir up dust elsewhere and try to evade the truth about ourselves. Live and Let Live!

Posted by: Member | July 24, 2007 10:58 AM

The only reason this article was written was because David (quoted in the article) has connections with Newsweek and The Washington Post. A handful of resentful people are using his connections to fulfill their own personal revenge.
If you don't like Midtown, thats fine, I encourage you to start your own group. But from the way things are going, it sounds like you should name it "I hate happy people and my life is your fault" :)

Posted by: Jorge | July 24, 2007 11:50 AM

Jorge and Member, in case you missed it, I wrote earlier, "If you, your friends, or Q himself has issues stop hiding behind the guise of anonymity. Sue the hell out of the post for libel [and slander], make it a closed hearing and protect your anonymity (if that is really the case), and get some credibility for your group. The Washington Post DOESN'T get behind a story, let alone put it on the front page if they can't back it up, legally or otherwise. Wake up, get yourself to real AA." Don't give me that "it's against traditions" stuff. Why don't you start asking for financial records of all MT's functions (12-Step Players, SOP, etc.), see how far you get. STOP DRINKING THE KOOL-AID! Get a grip, start going to other meetings and spending time with AA people outside the group on a regular basis and see how far you get w/o being considered as "toxic". Mike and some of your friends better not engage in sexual acts with a 17 year-old "Kristen" in Delaware, AZ, CA, FL, Idaho, LA, MI, NM, NY, ND, TE, or Utah, because there it's called jail.

Posted by: Jayne P. | July 24, 2007 12:26 PM

Sober 28 1/2 years now. Was 28 1/2 when I got sober - (this only happens once - neat though). Been to meetings around the country over the years. Don't doubt there are some less than stellar meetings here and than, now and then. A.A. as a whole is actually strong enough to survive it all. My experience is that by contacting the intergroup, central office or area committe one can obtain the myriad of pamphlets on anything having to do with A.A. as well as all the A.A. literature. For those who are reading from the outside in, let the knowledge that there are approximately 52,000 meeetings nationwide with a rough membership in A.A., including Canada of over 1 million people or more - 2 million worldwide. Don't let yourselves get all caught up in what is the concern of the greater Wash DC area committee. Read all the A.A. pamphlets... and all professionals in the field of alcoholism and drug addiction should be attending one open meeting of A.A. every few weeks to see the broad array of meetings, attendees, references to the basics of A.A. and how to stay sober TODAY. I try to keep my own self "Honest, openminded and willing" to stay sober and help another alcoholic achieve soberity. I am not an M.D. thus I do not have a say on what another alcoholic is prescribed, I might have an opinion, and it is just an opinion, usually to info one's physician if one is an alcoholic. I really need not have opinions on outside issues in the halls of A.A. As I live my live outside of the rooms of A.A. I have a myriad of things I speak up on - but it doesn't belong inside the halls of A.A. This article is a 'bring me in' for the Washington Post, it is skewed to draw attention and create more readers. Let's seek information that A.A. as a whole offers, in it's pamphlets, books, and the boradest membership of A.A. - each with their own view of A.A., and none of us speak for A.A. as whole... we are merely trusted servants, we don't hold court, we don't dictate. If you are like me, have a great sober day... if you are interested in A.A. it is online with connections to local A.A. intergroups for literature and meetings to attend if you are interesting in attending an A.A. OPEN meeting. Thank you for reading.

Posted by: Hope P. | July 24, 2007 12:45 PM

Jorge, don't you get it? Its not going to stop until the cancer is perged from the body of AA. Its hopeless for you to defend that which so clearly everyone else (except Midtown members) can see is wrong. Your deniel doesn't change the facts. The facts are people have been harmed and you continue to support a group which condones those actions. Your loyalty is admirable, but extremely misplaced. After years of getting away with every abuse known as well as stealing people's money for their own gain, the leaders of this group are going to be stopped one way or another because there are many who have suffered who are finally being heard and neither you nor anyone else who posts here can stop that. Thank God and all who had the courage to stand up and speak out. I know this wasn't an easy decision for Kristen and any others who shared their story. For those who wrote it and edited it and researched it, I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart. "Our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends upon AA unity." Amen.

Posted by: getreaktownies | July 24, 2007 1:01 PM

The sources from this article devote their time, energy, and thought into getting revenge for a old resentment through the media. The people at midtown devote their time, energy, and thought into helping the still suffering alcoholic live a happy full life.

Posted by: Olga M | July 24, 2007 1:21 PM

I should say that I am no longer a member of AA, but I was at on time a member of the midtown group, in washington dc. I decided after 5 years of sobriety that maybe what I was calling alcoholism when I was 16 might have just been a case of rebellious teen. It happens.

This is to the people of Midtown, not the people who are trying to harm them. Keep up the good work. There are many of us out hear that are forever in your debt. The entire world is not against you, but the angriest people always yell the loudest. While I found out in the long run I was not an alcoholic, you guys taught me how to respect myself, my family and my now wife. You guys accepted me when no one else could or would. Stick to your diginified silence. There is nothing you can say to defend yourself. Words never take the place of experience. My Midtown sponsor taught me that. There will always be people attacking, with or without my old great grand sponsor around. He is a wonderfully kind, loving and defective man.

And before anyone tells me that I am brainwashed, I am not. You just say that whenever you hear someone say something positive about Midtown. It does not matter though. If my old AA experience still holds true, you guys will be drinking over your resentments soon. I hope there is still a good group to help you out.

PS. I know the girl from the article and she is a thief. I am sure I can find a picture of her somewhere that the Washington Post can put online. Marc can call me if he wants it.

Posted by: Not a Member Anymore | July 24, 2007 2:49 PM

All I can say is that I saw all of this coming a LONG LONG time ago. Mike Q has had it made in the shade with pink lemonade. Lets be real people. What 60 year old man wouldn't enjoy himself being the leader of such a young and impressionable group?

In regards to my experience with the group. I was in Midtown for about a year. It was fun while it lasted, but I couldn't deal with the dictatorship and hierarchy of the group. There are certain "rules" at midtown. Some may say "suggestions", but if don't follow the suggestions, you won't feel like "part of the group". I disagreed with a number of things within the group, so I just decided to start going to other meetings and got a new sponsor.

On a more positive note, I did make a lot of friends and I think I built somewhat of a foundation in AA there. I have over 4 years of sobriety today.

But, hey, thats just my experience.

Posted by: MH | July 24, 2007 7:07 PM

I got pulled into the midtown cult for a couple years and never felt comfortable with the practices but because your whole life becomes it and its people its difficult to escape. I am still tying to rebuild healthy relationships with healthy people but look back at the wasted time and don't wish the group on anyone. It is a dangerous cult.

Posted by: Mike | July 24, 2007 8:51 PM

I began attending AA when I was 19 and now have 26 years of continuous sobriety.

My sobriety began in the DC area. I am familiar with both the names and meetings of those mentioned.

It has been my experience that meetings dominated by seemingly powerful and influential personalities accompanied by worshipful followers are inherently unhealthy. Typically, these powerful figures are male and exhibit predatory behavior. Midtown may be the most egregious, but is not the only example. I've seen the phenomenon in No Va, Richmond and Calvert County.

As a 19 year old young woman with six-months of sobriety, I was raped and impregnated by a well-known "AA Guru" in the No. Va. area.

Who would have believed me?? When the woman who became my sponsor heard the story, she was able to immediately identify the perpetrator. The behavior was well known. I was angry that other women did not warn me.

Fortunately I was able to separate the person from the program. Others are not so fortuate. That is a tragedy.

I feel it is my responsibility to share my experiences, good, bad, and horrible. I am responsible to identify predators to newcomers. I am responsible to share my experiences regarding groups dominated by personalities rather than principles. I am responsible . . . What happens at these meetings does affect AA as a whole. When a suffering alcoholic reaches out for help, may the hand of AA, a selfless not selfish AA, that adheres to the 12 Traditions, be there to share their experience, strength, and hope.

Posted by: Lisa W | July 24, 2007 9:10 PM

I am a member of AA in Northern Virginia, and it has saved my life. The principles of AA are spiritual principles for life. I encourage anyone who is searching for a way out of your misery to turn to AA. As for the Midtown group- I believe it is up to it's members to have a group inventory, and move past being a "Q" group. The only time AA has ever had men sponsoring women was way in the past when meetings were very few, and at great distances. You men in the "Q", might think of the damage you are doing to AA as a whole. Which is against our traditions. It is also not advised for anyone who has not worked the 12 steps of AA to take on any relationships, which is usually in the first year, because sobriety is your number one priority. Sponsors are primarily to guide you through those steps, not teach you how to do laundry.

Posted by: SteppingStones | July 24, 2007 10:59 PM

Which tradition is men sponsoring women against? During my time in AA I had the honor of sponsoring a woman. She needed help and I gave her the experience I had. She was very distrustful of women and was able to talk to and trust me. I can attest that she never slept with me, nor did anyone suggest she should. After 18 months she decided that she wanted to get a different sponsor and asked a woman. I am happy to hear that she was still sober as of about 9 months ago.

The tradition you speak of is the one that your group has. If I remember correctly there is a tradition that says there are no rules in AA. That if a group or individual strays to far they sicken and die. Sounds like they are talking about God's work, not the Washington Post or a bunch of disgruntled people.

I am sure that some people have legitimate problems. And they should be handled. But why drag the other 99% of the people into it? Does it help you sleep better at night? Or what about all the people that say "I have never been to Midtown, but they sure are bad people!" Unless you have experience you are just taking sides so you can feel right about something. Go outside and look for a cause in your own backyard.

If you have a legitimate gripe or you have been the victim of a crime. Prosecute the person to the fullest extent of the law. I know people say they are afraid and such, but not too afraid to drag some really good people through the mud. If you have the personal experience of being harmed do something about it, but don't act on the word of others.

Trust me you are listening to fools.

Posted by: Not a Member | July 24, 2007 11:31 PM

Where is the article called "Happy successful DC area AA group under attack by people joing a bandwagon"? Oh yeah, no one wats the read that.

Posted by: Kris | July 24, 2007 11:42 PM

The open door of AA and it's essentially anarchic structure has been a problem for a long time. Even if no one is guilty of anything in this particular instance anybody who's been around AA for any length of time knows about people who were abused. Perhaps there is no way AA can police itself in which case outside authorities should exercise zeal rather than restraint. If this were other than an AA Group this story about pederasts and teenagers would have been sensationalized all over the news and by now Midtown Group members would have been charged and awaiting their day in court; but instead this has been given every opportunity for months to quietly die. I can only hope that this will continue to refuse to die and that, eventually, justice will not only be done here but will fuel a greater awareness of the dangers that lurk for some who so desperately and trustingly walk through the wide open AA doors.

Posted by: r c wilson | July 25, 2007 6:50 AM

Everyone grow up. Midtown people be real fix your mess we all know its true. Everyone else follow the traditions. Keep it simple. Arrest and charge the ones who broke the law.

Posted by: AA Member | July 25, 2007 7:37 AM

I am a midtown member currently, I know all the stories are true. As a member I am speaking up finally. We need to resolve this issue and do it fast or our group will be no more. We are not all bad and we can not let a few cancer cell kill us. We need to be brave and speak up. Brutal Honesty is what is needed right now.

Posted by: Concern Member | July 25, 2007 7:43 AM

To all Midtown Members:

If the group as a whole owned up to whats been going on for years, it would be the best thing that ever happened to you guys. There are a LOT of good people in the group, it is very unfortunate that the selfishness of a few can ruin it for you all. But honestly, the hierarchy has got to go. There are no leaders in AA. Midtown home group members should be able to go to other meetings when they please, see their "outside" friends, and be able to live their life. We get sober to live, not to be told what to do and ostracized when we do something different. There are many ways to get sober in AA. To be "accepted" in the group, you must go to the same meetings, do what "the group" does in all situations. That mentality has got to be dropped in order for others to feel more welcome. Quite frankly, I would be interested in coming back to Midtown if these "rules aka mandatory suggestions" were throw by the wayside. I look forward to the outcome of this whole situation.

My $0.02

Posted by: MH | July 25, 2007 10:23 AM

In the meetings I've been to in Northern VA not all AA groups are created equal. Some have strong, caring leaders -- and a few do not. However, the basic philosophy of remaining sober "one day at a time" holds true in every meeting. We should hope that the Post digs more into the good of AA now -- and talks to some of the millions who have been helped vs. the few dirtballs who are slinging soft mud. Though the AA public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion and we (as members) need always to maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films -- we do have a good story to tell.

I thank the Post for letting us tell the story but encourage further review.

Posted by: Sober for two months, and grateful | July 25, 2007 11:21 AM

"There is one who has all power, that one is God, may you find him now..."

Let us all put away are arrogance and ignorance for just one day, and see what can happen.....I bet we'll be amazed!

Posted by: Neutral | July 25, 2007 11:52 AM

"Bill Wilson would be appal(l)ed."

Bill W. was a notorious womanizer and "13th Stepper."

That doesn't take away from the value of his life, and the value of AA. "We are not saints."


Posted by: mb | July 25, 2007 11:55 AM

Womanizing and exploiting 16,17 & 18y/o girls are not the same. Thank God my 17y/o daughter hasn't needed AA. She doen't drink or do drugs. I quote her, "I would rather have no friends and no life than have a 50y/o man take my virginity." Out of the mouth of an intellegent babe." She is spreading the word among all of her friends. Unfortunately she is spreading, "Stay away from AA." Sad that Midtown has given us a bad name.

Posted by: 1RecoveringWoman/Mother | July 25, 2007 1:11 PM

I have been watching this story unfold for awhile now. I have seen it from the perspective of an objective bystander. This story came to my attention pretty much by accident on MySpace. Now, (much to my amazement) it is in Newsweek and, front page on the Washington Post. It really gathered some legs, this story did.
Why?
Everyone directly involved in the issue will have their opinions and judgments about the answer to why. Much of that will come from perspective. Society has always had a special tolerance for the antics of the drunkard. However, this story is really going to end up being about harm, and responsibilty.
I got sober in 1986 at an in-patient treament facility where mandatory AA/NA/CA meetings were attended both in-house, and at outside meetings. The common theory of the mental health professionals of the day seemed to be in accord with the famous Big Book description where the only hope for effective recovery from alcoholism was some transformational and profound psychic shift....ie; spiritual/metaphysical experience. To the treament center I went through re-hab in...that experience was most easily attainable in a 12 step program of recovery. Absolved them of the need to treat my illness any further I suppose. (ie; "dumping into AA" much to the relief of insurance companies I might add). My experience has taught me that this is harmful to many people seeking medical treatment for their addictions, and the professional community needs to assume more responsibility in offering treatment not affiliated with any 12 step group...lest they also endorse all other religious organizations who claim that "God is the answer". That very statement which is asserted before every AA meeting is the newcomers invitation to a cult. Add the instruction of the third step and VIOLA!..you get a Mike Q.
In the MG instance, AA is no more to blame for any harm done to individuals, than any other group within this society that subjects it's devotees to myth, legend, superstitons, and idolatry.

Posted by: Danny J | July 25, 2007 1:14 PM

I always have to laugh when I hear all this talk about overcontrolling sponsors and a hierarchy. I think it is astonishing and shocking when I here accusations of cult like, mind controlling tendacies that are SO prevelant in that even the casual observer could spot them a mile away.

I only say that I'm shocked and astonished because accusations of cult like tendancies and mind control have not been any part of my experience.

I asked someone to be my sponsor. He was not assigned. I have been on a few casual dates now and then. The girls were never assigned, forced, or coerced. I took meds for my first year and a half. I shared about it openly. I was never made to feel like I wasn't a sober member. The one and only time I ever had a problem w/ someone stating thier "opnion" about medications and sobriety, my sponsor handed me the phamlet about medication in sobriety and why it is an outside issue. Are thier people in Midtown that are of the opinion you cannot be sober if you take mediactions for depression? Sure there are.

But in talking with others about this, I have met people at meetings here in Maryland, DC, Virginia, Delaware, and New York who feel the same way. From what the literature tells me this is a problem that reaches to every corner of the fellowship. To say that this is "the way" at Midtown is utterly false. In a group this large I can assure you that I am not the lone exception to the rule. This is a hot topic everywhere I have ever been at meetings. Anyone who wants to make the arguement that this is an issue only closely related to one particular AA group obviously hasn't been to a lot of other meetings.

Which leads me to the my last point. This business about about only attending certain meetings. Nobody, and I wil repreat, NOBODY has ever told me which meetings that I HAVE to attend. I try to attend meetings on a daily basis, and it is up to me to decide where I want to go. My sponsor, has even pointed me in the direction of several great meetings that some would have you to believe are "outside meetings".


I cannot speak to every charge and accusation that I have ever heard leveled against my home group. I can only speak to the ones that I have direct experience with. Like i said before, I am shocked and astonished when I hear such a diverse and volumous arrray of accusations. Shocked and awed becasuse they are not happening to me or others I see around me.

What I do see is a group of people, who as a whole, are trying to stay sober one day at a time and trying to help those that are still suffering. FInding this program has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. Being surrounded by people who are actively working towards a solution makes it all the more bearble.

PS. Note to the author, the part about the letter that was circulated in the Spring as repsonse to accusations. If you and your editors are actually paid to do this for a living, I would think that since you are writing such a "fair and impartial" piece for the public good, you would have done a little bit better job of getting your story straight. That is what why you do this, right?

Posted by: AA Member | July 25, 2007 1:38 PM

In response to AA Member | July 25, 2007 01:38 PM

This was just my experience. Maybe things have changed quite a bit since Mike Q has gotten ill. I was in midtown from 2003-2004 and that was when things were the way I described them. I wasn't treated the same way when I started going to other meetings and had a sponsor outside of midtown. People weren't as friendly towards me. Hopefully, for the sake of the group, things have changed.

Posted by: MH | July 25, 2007 2:24 PM

Just hearing that there was an article written on Midtown made my heart drop. If there are any parents reading this who have children in this particular group, please pull them away immediately. I turned to Midtown not as an alcoholic, but a troubled teen who identified with others like myself. While my parents rarely saw me and questioned why I would be returning home at 2 am on school nights, they resisted action because afterall, it was an "AA" group, and then only had my best intentions at heart.

This could not be further than the truth. I joined Midtown when I was 15 and left when I was 16 after my parents found out I had been one of the older sponsers, a 28 year old member whom I first had strong reservations about and only began to see after I was encouraged by other members. He was one of the many older men I had been with at the time. While I will not go into the extremely personal and disturbing experiences I went through with this group, it was without a doubt the most shameful time in my life. As a 21 year old about to enter my senior year in college, I am positive I would not be here today had I not been pulled away from that cult experience. Whoever says that Midtown is a helpful AA experience is dead wrong. Any young member I knew in the group is either out using again and more screwed up than ever before, or is sober and left them for the horrible activities they condone. And whoever was only giving information about the older men having sexual relations with only 16 and 17 year olds was not giving the full story. I was only 15 at the time and every man I was pushed upon was over 25, and so was the friend that brought me in, and I know for a fact that she had slept with Mike Q numerous times before I had even entered the picture. I don't care how many people he helped get sober, the man has taken advantage of countless underage girls, and he deserves everything he has coming to him.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 2:32 PM

Also, just because you can't see things happening around you doesn't mean that things don't happen. I am at a place where I would be willing to help Midtown gain a better reputation. I would rather take the steps to make this situation right rather than to risk the welfare of all of the good people in the group.

Its really sad how the actions of a few have affected this many people. The DC area should really come together and try to do what they can to help instead of tearing the whole group down. This is especially directed towards young people in AA.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 2:34 PM

Please contact the authorities and report this. Then something can be done. If you were 15, this can be very helpful to put a lot of this to rest. They only need one to come forward. If nothing else, do it so that this can stop and spare some of our children!

Posted by: 1RecoveringWoman/Mother | July 25, 2007 2:42 PM

It's great to see all the sanity being expressed in this blog.

There are no authorities in AA, nor are there official leaders, and that is why the fellowship has survived. That's also why this particular group is getting some bad pub, because someone seems to have decided that a certain approach is the "right" approach, and that somehow their view is "better." They can "prove" it, I'm sure.

And, like any group that starts putting the personality ahead of the principle (whether it's the local Lions' Club or some big church), they're having trouble because the approach has become more important in some peoples' minds than the fellowship itself.

Because of its traditions, AA is self-healing by its very nature. No one at the local Intergroup or World Services has the authority to condemn or applaud the activities of one of the groups. Nor is anyone supposed to have authority over anyone else's approach. The fellowship intentionally was designed that way.

The traditions are there, in black and white, in all the aa-approved literature, and we're all (supposed to be) adults. If what's going on there goes against the traditions, then I'd say stay away from it. If shenanigans are going on at this meeting, get the heck away from it.

We are all flawed, and we modern Americans scream like stuck pigs whenever a perceived "guarantee" falls through. The minute you start believing in guarantees, you are in trouble, and, again, that's part of what is problematic about the approach described herein -- you start getting proscriptive about the approach to AA, it gets very cookie-cutter, and top it off with a "leader", self-proclaimed or otherwise, and that is a recipe for errancy.

Hey, that goes against the traditions, I think I'll go for a more moderate approach. . .enough of my yakkin. . . let's boogie.

Posted by: Edward | July 25, 2007 5:16 PM

I was part of Midtown for roughly two years, although I am no longer in the group, I fully support what they do. These allegations that Mike Q. "runs" midtown are not true, he is simply looked up to by many for his length of sobriety. I personally never cared for the man for my own reasons, but to put his last name out there along with pictures is disgusting as I expected more respect from the Washington Post. I never saw any girl forced into sexual relations nor any slavery, do not mistake my words, I am not denying it took place, but I never saw it as I was learning to live sober with people that cared about me and my sobriety. There are many good people in Midtown that have helped hundreds to stay sober. The nice thing about AA is that if you are not happy with a meeting, you can find another one. Just as there is no one way to sobriety, there is no one set of guidelines for a group. What works for them works for them, what works for me works for me. All parents that fear Midtown because they have lost their relationship with their children should stop blaming the group and look at how their relationship could affect the child's sobriety because I can guarantee no sponsor would support cutting family out for no reason. The group relies on strict boundaries for those that have become beaten and bloodied because they could not survive otherwise. You can dismiss my words and consider it propaganda of the enemy, but in the end the ones that lose in this battle are the ones that cannot get sober because one more group has been debased as a lethal cult.

Posted by: Stephen L. | July 25, 2007 9:45 PM

To the people defending the Midtown Group: you need serious help. I was in the MG in 98' and immediately left when I figured out what was going on; thankfully I was able to take a few people with me. I knew quite a few girls in their late teens who slept with these creeps (Mike Q., Jack, Arno, etc) and there was even a girl who was used by the hierarchy to sleep with newcomer males to entice them to stay in the group. Besides the sex, I saw families ripped apart by this cult. In some instances half of the family was in the MG and the other half wasn't. Needless to say it was not a pretty situation and in ALL cases children were involved. What a nice childhood those poor kids must have had.

To the long term members of the Midtown Group: even if you didn't have sex with minors, you are complicit. Many of you lived through the frequent uprisings within Midtown and you knew the accusations being leveled against these men. Yet many of you did nothing. I think you shoud be ashamed of yourselves and serious ammends need to be made to the people that were harmed.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 10:28 PM

OH Please!Stop the AA lingo and slogans and traditions! For 15 plus years people have said " Go to other meetings, start a new group, they are not AA. In the meantime they have grown to 400+ people, hold positions in WAIA, control the "Where & When", chair the H & I comittee, and answer the phones. Tradition 4 ..Yes they are autonomous but they have now affected AA as a whole. It is time we take action and remove them. It may take ammending a tradition but so what! It has been 72 yrs. maybe they should be ammended. The US constitution has had to be ammended

Posted by: 1RecoveringWoman/Mother | July 25, 2007 10:37 PM

I am a 21 years old with two years of sobriety. My life has completely changed because of AA; from having practically nothing going for myself I have already traveled abroad and am getting ready to tranfer to a four-year college, just to mention a few examples. There have been some bad characters that I have come across in the rooms, but there have also been some strong women to lead me away from these predators. This is how my experience has been; sometimes there is drama and resentment, but the underlying principles of love and tolerance along with the strength of my own program have always prevailed. I don't live in fear.

As a young person I have experienced a lot of joy and a lot of fun in sobriety. I have never been a member of the Midtown group and I am only here to offer love and service to those who would have it. I have been to meetings all over and that has been the code.

I'm not trying to criticise by saying this, but if there are any Midtown members reading this who think that you can't have fun as a young person in outside AA, I can tell you that hasn't been my experience. I have no interest in ostracising anyone, and I believe the God governs all of this. I have faith in that, and I am just here to be as kind, loving and useful as I can be. I don't want to see people get hurt or die, and I know as an AA member I am responsible to act out of love in helping the next suffering alcoholic, and that that is the answer.

I think I will attend a Midtown meeting at some point, and I encourage anyone in Midtown to check out meetings outside of your homegroup. Not to leave, but just so that we might be able to meet. I am open to any and all new people I can have in my network!

Posted by: Alyssa | July 26, 2007 2:05 AM

The difference between AA and a cult is that AA only suggests, they do not ask or force you to do anything. The Q group forced people to do things, so in that sense is a cult. I have attended the Choir group (basically an extension of Midtown group) since 1988. The group helped plenty of people, however it is well known that "Q" was/is a sick guy. A friend once went to the "Q" house and told him "what are you doing, this is worse than being out there (drinking/using)" Q said "what do you mean?" he could'nt see how sick he was, that he was basically replacing one addiction with another (alcohol with sex). That these girls and young men held him in such high esteem is something I'll never figure out, to me he was always a dirt bag.

Posted by: Chris | July 26, 2007 11:11 AM

I used to attend Midtown many years ago before I realized I was not an Alcoholic. I never truly fit in because I could see the manipulation going on, and was not one that would clean anyone's house. The group used to say "if you like what he has do what he does" That is how they were able to impress young teenagers.
Of all the things that shocked me was that it was public knowledge of who had STD's. All of the old timers, men and women had something and it was public and perfectly ok. Eventually, everyone had been with everyone during a certain period of time. Girl friends and boy friends were swapped as you do with your clothes. Mike Q used to impress young girls by buying them expensive gifts, and taking them away on trips. Of course these young girls were impressed, they had never seen something like this. The group is a very material one and they live a very very nice lifestyle. Now, many members have married others and have young children. It would be very difficult for them to disband; they have been there all their lives and would not know how to act in the outside world. They were always threatened with "if you leave, you will die" I could keep on going and going and going. I always thought about writing a story too, but am glad that the Post and Newsweek printed it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 12:28 PM

I used to attend Midtown many years ago before I realized I was not an Alcoholic. I never truly fit in because I could see the manipulation going on, and was not one that would clean anyone's house. The group used to say "if you like what he has do what he does" That is how they were able to impress young teenagers.
Of all the things that shocked me was that it was public knowledge of who had STD's. All of the old timers, men and women had something and it was public and perfectly ok. Eventually, everyone had been with everyone during a certain period of time. Girl friends and boy friends were swapped as you do with your clothes. Mike Q used to impress young girls by buying them expensive gifts, and taking them away on trips. Of course these young girls were impressed, they had never seen something like this. The group is a very material one and they live a very very nice lifestyle. Now, many members have married others and have young children. It would be very difficult for them to disband; they have been there all their lives and would not know how to act in the outside world. They were always threatened with "if you leave, you will die" I could keep on going and going and going. I always thought about writing a story too, but am glad that the Post and Newsweek printed it.

Posted by: unsigned | July 26, 2007 12:29 PM

It seems that there is no end to the controversy surrounding Midtown. Before those members who have had nothing but wonderful experiences tell the rest of us that we are crazy or are guilty of slander,consider that there are plenty of men and women, girls and boys, truth be told, who have been damaged by Midtown's culture. If your experience as a midtown member has been positive, great. But don't for a minute tell us that you didn't notice at the periphery at least that other things were going on. I remember the first time I saw Mike Q speak to a packed house at Dupont and his opening remarks began with a joke about how he had just come from an orgy. What better way to difuse a powder keg than to openly admit to your crimes and play it off as a joke? I've been to several meetings where members who attempted to leave midtown were stalked-followed as they reached out to other more senior healthy memebrs of AA. In one instance in particular, three young men spent the entire meeting at the bagel club glaring at a young man sitting across from them who was clearly frightened out of his mind. I approached him afterwards and he let me in on his issue. Sure enough as the meeting was dispersing, they approached both of us, speaking only to him and told him to come with them to a midtown meeting that night. I was shocked. When I asked them if they were overstepping their bounds, one of them shot me a look and told me to stay out of Midtown's business. If nothing else, Midtown is in dire need of new leadership. Whether or not the negative experiences documented in the article and by other people on this blog were universal is not the point. That they were part of the culture, and they WERE a part of the culture is enough. Chnage is needed.

Posted by: GratefulJoe | July 26, 2007 1:05 PM

I have been to plenty of Midtown meetings over the years, and though I am not a member of that group, I have known some of the members for a long time. I have seen how they greet people, reach out to the newcomers, and are sincerely dedicated to helping alcholics stay sober. I have also seen the darker side of Midtown. There is a lot of good in that group, just like there is good in everyone. What about all of the people at those meetings who have never done anything to hurt anyone, yet they are still condemned by other AA groups because they are "Midtown"? With love, support and encouragement from other groups, everything that is positive, spiritual and focused on recovery will win out, and the other types of behavior will disappear. But all of these verbal attacks, being angry and resentful, the bad word that "Midtown" has become in local AA, this is all behavior that the 12 steps help us overcome, not wallow in. How will anything change if we can't approach this with love, tolerance, and respect? Lets all go the Midtown meetings, reach out to the members and encourage positive change from within.

Posted by: Christa Lynn M. | July 26, 2007 1:13 PM

It does strike me that there weren't more older women at Midtown helping the younger women out of the "lifting up your skirt" mess, and maybe keeping a sobriety coin pressed between your knees...To me, there should be more of a difference here than what went on in the Roman Catholic church. That was the largest part of the Pedophile priest scandals, one in my small hometown: girls weren't allowed to be "altar boys" and we were excluded from being a part of the RC church at a young age. I still recall walking by the rectory, and male classmates berating me, "No girls allowed! You're not allowed in here!" Meanwhile, they're being raped and abused in there.

Sigh. Many of these Midtown young women and girls are victims as ready-made as young boys to priests.

Posted by: J. | July 26, 2007 1:45 PM

My son is a member of Midtown.
They helped him get his act together, graduate from high school, act with responsibility, and quit drinking.

I think it's really hard to be a young person and quit drinking because so much of regular young-people life involves drinking.

Every Alcoholic is the same, but they are all different from normal people. It is important to break with people and activities from the "old" way of life.

I like that Midtown provides a social forum.

I like that my son isn't passing out at the dinner table anymore and is attending college.

I like that even though he's had three car crashes none of them have involved alcohol.

Not everybody who goes to AA is a nice person. Not every Ivy-league bound friend my son had in high school was nice, or sober either.

I'm sure I would be more protective if he were a girl because girls have different threats in society. But overall I am happy that he didn't waste years of his life drinking before getting sober.

Posted by: GratefulMom | July 26, 2007 2:47 PM

Bill Wilson was the ultimate 13th Stepper

Posted by: Gene H. | July 26, 2007 3:21 PM

Dear brothers and sisters in recovery,

I've been sober in our program over two decades in Northern Virginia, and I've occasionally heard some rumors about Midtown, but nothing like what was depicted in the Post (thank you, Washington Post) or in responses in this blog above. I've recently talked with some people I trust in the program and have heard remarkably similar stories from some time back.

The Midtown group, while it does have successes, is hardly the be all and end all in Washington sobriety. 95% or more of sober AAs in the DC area have never been to Midtown, and I dare say every single one is horrified and disgusted, as I am, to hear of the complete perversion of our precious program by the sex predators as described in the article.

I think now is the time we need to act. Midtown needs recovery, just as we did, because it has seriously damaged people and our program by its conduct. The actions of the Midtown group seriously harm its victims, perhaps in a life threatening way, and they harm and discredit our program and its ability to help those who currently need help or will in the future. The discredit and shame will be magnified greatly if we members now do nothing. These awful practices at Midtown have apparently been passed down from father to son and are not likely to go away when Mike Q dies.

I am planning to get some of my program associates and go to Midtown meetings, and announce that no one should ever be pressured to have sex with anyone, especially not with an older "guru", and explain the many other fun meetings, groups and options that are available to them. We need to end this now! Let's help Midtown recover the same way we did, by ending the bad, acknowledging it, making amends, building up the good, and putting a process in place so that this never, ever, can happen again.

We are good citizens - we all know that's part of our recovery. If laws have been broken, those at fault must step up and admit their guilt. To the females who were abused while underage, I urge you to come forward to the authorities and the ongoing investigation, and provide this information. Yes, it will be difficult and even shameful, but I believe you know this will be the best thing you could possibly do for your recovery and personal growth and for the recovery of our program. Virtually everyone will love and support you.

Remember that "when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible."

The hand of A.A., in the form of loving members, was there for me at the lowest and most desperate time in my life. I want the hand of A.A., and not that of a sexual predator masquerading as an A.A. sponsor, to be there for those who need it now and will need it in the future. And for that, I am responsible. All my brother and sisters in recovery, don't you feel just as grateful - and responsible - as well?

Posted by: DCC | July 26, 2007 5:22 PM

I went to Midtown when I had about 3 yrs of sobriety, against the advice of most of my friends and sponsor. My thoughts were "Midtown really can't be as bad as people say it is". I left after 1.5 yrs and was very fortunate. I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE ACTUALLY MIDTOWN MEMBERS DENYING THE ALLEGATIONS- I have nothing to gain by responding except for getting the TRUTH out. ANYONE who has been in Midtown for any amount of time knows the truth about what goes on in there :
1-MEN SPONSOR WOMEN, MEN TELL THEIR "PIGEONS" THAT IT IS A "SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE TO SLEEP WITH THEIR SPONSORS". - THAT IS A FACT
2-MIKE Q HAS ONLY DATED WOMEN UNDER THE AGE OF 20 FOR AT LEAST THE PAST 10 YRS- THAT IS A FACT.
3-UNDERAGE SEX HAPPENS ALL OF THE TIME IN MIDTOWN. IF IT IS "CONSENSUAL" AS MEMBERS OF MIDTOWN CLAIM, IT IS ONLY BECAUSE YOU ALL HAVE CONVINCED THESE NAIVE WOMEN WHO SEEK RECOVERY THAT IT IS "OK". I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT ONE WOMAN HAD HER FIRST SEXUAL EXPERIENCE WITH AN OLDER MEMBER IN THE GROUP THAT THE MEN "ELECTED"- THAT IS A FACT. ANOTHER FACT IS THAT HER MOTHER ACTUALLY GOES TO MIDTOWN AND DIDN'T PROTECT HER OWN DAUGHTER THEN OR NOW- THAT IS PATHETIC!!! I GUESS THAT IS BECAUSE HER MOM IS SPONSORED BY MIKE Q AND PAYS FOR HIS "LIFESTYLE" INCLUDING TRIPS, ETC...
4-MIDTOWN DOES NOT HAVE ANY PAMPHLETS IN ANY OF THEIR MEETINGS REGARDING AA AND SPONSORSHIP OR AA AND MEDICATION- THAT IS A FACT- DOES "JORGE" CARE TO COMMENT ON THAT??????????????
5- ANYONE WHO ACTUALLY WORKS IN THE MENTAL HEALTH FIELD KNOWS THAT WHAT HAPPENS IN MIDTOWN IS NOT TRUE AA- OR THERE WOULD NOT BE SUCH CONTROVERSY ABOUT MIDTOWN/Q GROUP.MIDTOWN DOES SAY THAT PEOPLE CANNOT TAKE MEDICATION BECAUSE THEY ARE "NOT TRULY SOBER". MIDTOWN ALSO TELLS THEIR NEW MEMBERS TO GO OFF THEIR MEDS COLD-TURKEY- RESULTING IN MANY MEMBERS BECOMING SUICIDAL. IT IS A KNOWN FACT THAT MANY INDIVIDUALS WHO LEFT MIDTOWN HAD TO BE HOSPITALIZED IN ORDER TO SAVE THEIR LIVES DUE TO WITHDRAWAL FROM THEIR MEDS. IT IS ALSO A FACT THAT MIDTOWN SAYS THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DEPRESSION. MIDTOWN CLAIMS THAT IT IS JUST "SELF-CENTERED ALCOHOLISM" MIDTOWN DOES NOT ALLOW THEIR MEMBERS TO SEEK OUTSIDE HELP- UM,,, HAVE ANY OF THE MIDTOWN MEMBERS EVER READ THE BIG BOOK??? BACK IN 1939 IT WAS DOCUMENTED IN THE BIG BOOK THAT AAs should seek outside help... um, since when does Midtown get to change the Big Book to meet their needs- especially on pg 69- or have they not read that page either???- I bet anyone in Midtown will come up with some lame rebuttal to this too. HEY JORGE- DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE DSM IS- i BET NOT. DO ANY OF YOU IN MIDTOWN KNOW WHAT THE DSM IS??? NO, BECAUSE NONE OF YOU ARE PSYCHIATRISTS, CLINICIANS, OR SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELORS- SO WHY IN THE WORLD DO YOU THINK YOU SHOULD EVER GIVE ADVICE ABOUT MEDICATION, THERAPY, OR ANYTHING RELATED TO ALCOHOLISM OR DEPRESSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6- Midtown has a true heirarchy and Mike Q is the "leader"- real AA does not have any heirarchy. Midtown calls their going to other meetings "outreach". Um, let's be truthful and call it what it is "recruiting for the cult". By the way, notice how NONE of midtowns go by themselves to other meetings- that is because it is "sponsor directed" that noone can go alone to other meetings as they " might get the wrong message from other meetings".
7- I could go on and on and on about the BS that goes on in midtown- I feel really sorry for people like "jorge" who have been convinced by Midtown/ Mike Q that these "Allegations" are "just not true"...
How about if we all go to court and testify about this??? Let's see who the judge and jury would believe- certainly not Mike Q- a mental challenged x vietnam vet- or the sane Millions and Millions of AAs with real sobriety and true morals.
8- I FIND IT AMAZING THAT MIDTOWN HAS THE BALLS TO TELL ANYONE THAT HAS LEFT OR IS PLANNING ON LEAVING THAT THEY "WILL NOT STAY SOBER" IF THEY LEAVE- IF THAT IS NOT WHAT A CULT DOES, LET'S LOOK UP THE DEFINITION OF A CULT.
I DO NOT SEE ANY OTHER MEETINGS/GROUPS BEING INVESTIGATED IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OR STATE OF MARYLAND OTHER THAN MIDTOWN- I WONDER WHY THAT IS???
9- I WAS TOLD THAT I COULD ONLY DATE IN THE GROUP BY MANY MIDTOWNERS, SPONSOR INCLUDED- HMM, SOUNDS LIKE A CULT
10- FEEL FREE TO CHALLENGE ME ON MY WRITINGS- I CAN GIVE YOU NAMES OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN HARMED AND EVEN DIED FROM BEING IN MIDTOWN----- AND THOSE WHO DIRECTED ME TO DO THE ABOVE.
MIDTOWN IS NOT TRUE AA- IF IT WAS, IT WOULD NOT BE UNDERGOING INVESTIGATION BY MANY OUTSIDE AGENCIES...
MIDTOWN IS THE ONLY AA GROUP THAT TELLS ITS MEMBERS HOW TO LIVE THEIR LIVES- INCLUDING WHERE TO LIVE, HOW TO DATE, WHO TO DATE, NOT TO GO TO THERAPY, NOT TO TAKE MEDICATION, WHO WILL BE YOUR "ASSIGNED SPONSOR" WHO WILL PICK YOU UP AND DROP YOU OFF FOR MEETINGS, WHERE TO WORK, TO CUT YOU OFF FROM YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS NOT IN MIDTOWN.
I WISH I COULD SAY I HAD A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE IN MIDTOWN, BUT THE WHOLE TRUTH IS THAT MIDTOWN/ Q GROUP IS A CULT AND LIE ABOUT WHAT GOES ON IN THERE.
TRUE RECOVERY IS ABOUT LEARNING TO LIVE LIFE ON LIFE'S TERMS, NOT AVOID LIFE BY BEING A MEMBER OF A CULT.
I WAS FORTUNATE THAT I DID NOT GET SOBER IN AA AND MANAGED TO STAY SOBER WHILE IN MIDTOWN.
THE TERM FOR "RECOVERY" IN MIDTOWN IS " DRY", NOT SOBER.
IF MIDTOWN HAD REAL RECOVERY, THEY WOULD GIVE SUGGESTIONS, NOT DIRECTIONS, NOT CALL THEIR SPONSEES "PIGEONS" AND ACT LIKE REAL SOBER MEMBERS IN RECOVERY.
MILLIONS OF RECOVERING ALCOHOLICS ARE SOBER, BECAUSE THEY DO NOT GO TO MIDTOWN.
THOSE DEFENDING MIDTOWN ARE ONE OF THE TWO: PEOPLE WHO HAVE MOVED TO THE AREA AND JUST PULLED INTO MIDTOWN DUE TO THE APPEAL OF A SO-CALLED SOCIAL LIFE OR INDIVIDUALS WHO GOT SOBER IN MIDTOWN AND HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED ANY OTHER RECOVERY----- THOSE ARE THE FACTS...
ANOTHER FACT: THERE IS NOTHING,ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SPIRITUAL GOING ON IN MIDTOWN.
MIKE Q LEADS THE "WOMEN'S MEETINGS" FOR MIDTOWN AT HIS HOME- DID I MISS SOMETHING OR DID MIKE Q HAVE A SEX CHANGE???- THAT IS A FACT.
---- THESE ARE TRUE FACTS ABOUT MIDTOWN--- IF NEEDED, I WOULD GLADLY TESTIFY UNDER OATH, BECAUSE I AM A TRUE SOBER MEMBER OF AA- AND AN EX MEMBER OF MIDTOWN- THE " Q GROUP CULT"

Posted by: ex-midtowner/ real sobriety/true to AA | July 26, 2007 6:46 PM

I always stayed on the fringe of the "Q" element of the DC AA scene because it was easy to see that midtown was basically like a fraternity keg party, essentially the behaviour was the same, the only thing missing was the keg. It was not what might be called healthy recovery. However some of the practices of the "Q" group are helpful- it is a good idea to cut ties with "old friends" for the simple fact that most are probably still drinking/using and it will cause them to relapse. Many have alcoholic parents or parents that don't understand recovery, so the idea of tempering those realtionships may make sense in some cases also, but the zealousness with which the Q's carry this out is extreme and exceptional. Hearing the absymal stories these girls would tell before they came into recovery, it's a wonder they made it. AA teaches ego death and belief in a higher power, not to use it as a forum to act out your own sick demons. Being in AA is about learning to deal with your own laundry- literally and personally, the last the last thing these girls needed was to deal with Mike Q's too.

Posted by: DC AA'er 19 yrs. sober | July 26, 2007 7:18 PM

Twenty-four years ago yesterday I was at escorted by the counselors at a 28-day inpatient program up the street to a Sunday night AA meeting. It was still called Midtown back then. What I saw put a real damper on my active thinking that I did not need treatment and I could not really be an alcoholic. The room was crowded and full of all types. There were old people next to bikers next to young folks. "Could they all be alcoholics," I remember thinking as I scanned the room where I was neither the oldest nor youngest, whitest nor blackest, richest nor poorest, straightest nor gayest...

My inability to exclude myself from AA started that night. I got a 1-day chip. I have since gotten 21 of my 24 yearly chips at the same meeting. Things have changed, but hell, I have changed as well. I do, though, miss the crazy array of people at Midtown that seems to have recently been replaced by a more young, tan and similar group. I also miss the absence of "clickiness" that has been replaced by having to wonder if maybe I'm just jealous that I'm not part of the modern Midtown crowd. I even miss the old-timer speakers who were often not from Midtown.

What I have never had to miss is the enthusiasm around the intermission, the crescendo as longer periods of sobriety are applauded and the awkward silence when a call like "7 years" comes up empty. And most specially the cheers for the brave few who go up for a 1-day chip reminding me what a long, truly wonderful trip it has been and how it began.

While I am glad that any inappropriate behavior is being questioned I'm also worried that something that has helped so many could be in jeopardy. Lastly I'm grateful for the role Midtown has played in my life and saddened because I just celebrated an anniversary and don't know where to go...

Posted by: Brad | July 26, 2007 10:30 PM

In response to some of the last posts I would like to add these thoughts:

1. The Midtown sex problem is not centered soley around Mike Q. (why else do you think all of those guys stick around?) Try going to one of the men's meetings and you'll hear what they REALLY think about women, the 13th step, and sex & recovery. There's A LOT of sexual activity within the group and a hell of a lot of STDs. So getting rid of Mike Q or Jack will not solve the Midtown sex problem.

2. Also, to Brad: the Midtown you're speaking of was not the Midtown group as it is today...that was simply the name of the meeting back then bc it was located in Midtown DC. Most of the people there were not part of the Q group (as they were known back then). So again, the majority of the "crazy array" of people you described were not part of the Q group...I know because I was there and I knew just about everyone at the meeting at any given time.

I really hope that the people left in Midtown get the help that they need.

Posted by: Hoya | July 27, 2007 12:23 AM

What has happened or not happened in the Midtown group happens all over the world every day. Where ever people gather there will always be heing and sheing, this is not news. You can research churches in the area and find more then this. One of the biggest challenges for a co-ed rehab is to keep the clinents from heing and sheing, why should AA be any different?? I've been around for a long time and this went on even before AA was even thought of, and it will continue as long as people meet for any reason on a regular basis. So there is alot of to-do about nothing. No charges were filed, no body was raped, robbed, kidnapped, or forced to do anything against there will. If there was anything to this story someone some where would have some kind of a charge, wheather it was made up or not. So I would hope people would reread the artical, and find any wrong doing from anyone. Maybe bad advice, but if we start running articals about bad advice, there will not be anyroom for real news.

Posted by: Richard Hodges, Fl | July 27, 2007 1:01 AM

All right "Richard Hodges", give me a break. Are you kidding?? Genocide happens all over the world. Should we ignore that? Of course not. Like someone wrote earlier, if Mike and his sidekicks were in Delaware, AZ, CA, FL, Idaho, LA, MI, NM, NY, ND, TE, or Utah, we would not be debating this because they would have faced charges already. Get a grip.

Posted by: NOT Naive, WDC | July 27, 2007 8:36 AM

Newsweek is owned by the Washington Post, so no suprises this story turned up as a Post cover article. Don't be suprised if TV news magazines like Dateline pick it up as well, nowadays the media thrives on stories like this. National TV exposure would really hurt AA's reputation and possibly hinder young people from getting sober.

Posted by: Chris | July 27, 2007 10:15 AM

I would rather have my daughter drink than get sober in the Midtown Group. At least if she's drinking she won't be caught up in a sick twisted cult that encourages her to f*** her way to sobriety with men twice her age and double digit "clean" time. No wonder I've seen so many men in real AA end up joining Midtown. Where else can they get laid while not having to change or look at themselves? And the more "clean" time they have the more privileges they enjoy, such as whatever new flavor of the week shows up at Choir or Terrapins. I can see now why losers like Bryce and Billy stay. They just do what the master Q taught them: tell the girls sex is a spiritual experience and it will help her stay sober. When she resists, tell her not to be so selfish and to think of someone other than herself. When that fails, use her sponsor to work on her. Since you're sponsoring her sponsor anyway, and her sponsor is male and idolizes you, he'll make it happen. He'll tell her she has to be willing to go to any lengths to stay sober. It works like a charm every time! If I was a dude and didn't need God in my life, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

Posted by: soberinDC | July 27, 2007 5:54 PM

soberinDC, thanks for your comment. Quite illuminating with some specifics on "how it works" in Midtown. (Well, they've perverted everything else about our program.)

It looks like many Midtown meetings have been put out by churches. Do you know a where and when of remaining Midtown meetings? I think it's important for members in real AA to go to these meetings to offer support to those who want to learn about real AA and be in real AA. Also to offer information about other young peoples' groups that are real AA. Thanks!

Posted by: DCC | July 28, 2007 2:09 PM

Also to take some approved literature about the program, especially the pamphlet on sponsorship.

Posted by: DCC | July 28, 2007 2:11 PM

Having lived in DC for a few years, I was friends with a couple of "Mid-Town Refugees." Unfortunately, I was not shocked by the allegations, as I had witnessed similar behavior twenty-two years earlier when I got sober in California. There the group was called "Dog on the Roof," and the controlling "guru" was named Keith. I saw a slightly less controlling but still questionable version in Clancy's Pacific Group.

Unfortunately, Mike Q. seems to have taken depravity to a whole new level. I am aware of a so-called man who is one of Keith's "lieutenants" that left his wife and young children for a young newcomer he had been sleeping with in the MG. Somehow I have difficulty believing that this constitutes practicing the AA principles in all of our affairs.

As others have mentioned, AA in the DC area is very strong, notwithstanding the cancerous MG. I recommend that anyone who is looking to get away from the controlling atmosphere of the MG yet still find fellowship, sobriety, and recovery attend my home group while I was living in Alexandria: the Tuesday night Step Meeting on Russell Road.

Posted by: Howard H. | July 28, 2007 7:22 PM

MIDTOWN MEETINGS:

In addition to the list below, there is another one that started last night at the corner of Wisconsin Ave. & Calvert Street called "DC Speakers". Not sure if it's a full fledged Midtown meeting but there were about 20 Midtown members there and the people who have service positions were dressed up. The "greeters" were in suits -- YUK. If I was new I would feel very out of place and I would think AA had rules about what to wear at a meeting. Here are the rest:

Sunday 8:00 PM MIDTOWN
I think this meeting is at a community center in VA now???

**Currently Suspended from St. Patrick's **

ST. PATRICK'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
4700 WHITEHAVEN PKWY
Washington, DC
Signed 1st.meeting of the month
O N/S Speakers

Monday
10:30 AM KEEP IT SIMPLE
Lewinsville Presbyterian Ch,
1724 Chainbridge @ Gt Falls St
McLean, VA
C H Discussion

12:00 NOON SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE
Clifton Park Bapt. Ch.
Piney Branch & Univ. Blvd. Disc.
Silver Spring, MD
O H N/S Beginners

8:00 PM ALL ARE WELCOME
N. Chevy Chase Christian Ch.
8814 Kensington Pkkwy.
Bethesda, MD
C H N/S Discussion

8:30 PM PROMISES PROMISES
Bethesda United Ch. of Christ,
Democracy Blvd.& Fernwood Disc.
Bethesda, MD
C H N/S Young People

7:00 PM The Bridge
?
Gaithersburg, MD

Tuesday
12:00 NOON WESTWOOD
Concord-St. Andrews United Meth. Ch.
5910 Goldsboro at River Rd.
Bethesda, MD
C N/S Steps & Trads.

8:30pm LITTLE FALLS
Ch. of the Little Flower
5601 Mass. Ave.
Bethesda, MD
O H Speakers

8:30 PM YOUNG PEOPLE BIG BOOK
N.Chevy Chase Christian Ch.
8814 Kensington Pkwy
Kensington, MD
O H Big Book study

8:30 PM

THE GIFT

***St. Mark's has removed this meeting from their premises***

St. Marks Pres.
10701 Old Georgetown Rd,
Rockville, MD

8:30 PM VIRGINIA BIG BOOK
Chesterbrook Presbyterian Church
2036 Westmoreland
C H N/S Big Book Young People

Wednesday:
12:00 NOON TWELVE AT TWELVE
Trinity Lutheran Ch.
11200 Old Georgetown Rd.
Rockville, MD
O H N/S Step

8:30 PM "ROCKVILLE"
Christ Church
109 S. Washington St.
Rockville, MD
C Smoking Step

8:30 PM UP THE TUBES
Trinity United Methodist
Buchanan & Dolley Madison Blvd
McLean, VA
O N/S Discussion

Thursday:
10:30 AM TERRAPIN
Episc. Ch.,
Everett & Conn. Ave.
Kensington, MD
C N/S

8:30 PM CHOIR YOUNG PEOPLE
Meth. Ch.,
Conn. Ave. & Jenifer St.
Washington DC NW
Speaker
O

8:30 PM Unity Plus
Falls Church, VA

Friday:
7:00 AM Friday Attitude Adjustment??


12:00 PM WESTWOOD II
Concord-St. Andrews United Meth. Ch.,
5910 Goldsboro at River Rd.
Bethesda, MD
C N/S Step

8:00 PM KENSINGTON YOUNG PEOPLE
Warner Mem.Pres.Ch.,
10123 Conn.Ave.
Bethesda, MD
Disc.& Beginner Step
Young People

8:30 PM 9th TRADITION 12&12
Trintiy United Methodist
Buchanan & Dolley Madison
McLean, VA
O N/S Step

Saturday
10:30 AM West Side Weekenders
West Side Club
Washington DC

8:00 PM SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIAL
Chevy Chase, MD
O Big Book Young People

8:00 PM GAITHERSBURG YOUNG PEOPLE
Gaithersburg Pres. Church
610 S. Frederick Ave.
Gaithersburg, MD

Posted by: soberinDC | July 29, 2007 9:33 AM

soberinDC, thank you! I see some of the meetings are in VA where I am. In fact, my home group meets at one of these churches so it will be easy to check out.

Posted by: DCC | July 29, 2007 4:59 PM

I was a member of that group, and I have no problem calling it a cult.

It's easy (though cruel) for people on the outside to be cavalier in their responses to those of us who come forward with our stories. The best suggestion I have read on this whole thread has been to do research on the nature of cults (don't stop at Google--head to the library--what you learn may actually help keep you or someone you know from getting entangled in a psychologically coercive relationship).

All ongoing abuse--whether the abuse is physical, sexual or psychological, whether it is perpetrated by one person or a group or a gang--tend to have some things in common:

1. Honeymoon period (the target is made the center of attention and promised love and acceptance);

2. Isolation (outside influences are kept away from the target--neighbors, friends, or family are kept away; access to dissenting opinions, authorities, or even literature or media is restricted; often the target is made complicit in their own isolation and "chooses" not to associate with those of whom the abuser does not approve; perhaps the target is isolated by the simple device of having much of their time monopolized);

3. Ego-destruction (target's personality comes under attack; something is shown to be "fundamentally wrong" or untrustworthy about the the target's intuition and instincts; the target does not now trust his or her own judgment);

4. Conditional Self (the abuser's opinions and praise are the only ones to be accepted and trusted; the abuser offers the target a way to be "better" or to become acceptable; being acceptable is only possible at the discretion of the abuser; without the approval or permission of the abuser, the target "ceases to exist");

5. Enmeshment (the target spends most of his or her time engaged in activities that relate to or remind him/her of the abuser, which serves to reinforce the perceived importance of the abuser in the target's life; perhaps the target listens to music, watches movies, or engages in activities of which the abuser approves but in which the target may have had no prior interest; there is little alone-time or privacy);

6. Dependence (the target now stands to lose something of great value if the relationship with the abuser is severed--perhaps reputation, social or professional connections, food or shelter, or the abusive relationship itself, which has now become of paramount importance in the target's life--the target's ability to survive without the protection of the abuser may be compromised).


I'm willing to bet that anyone who's been in a coercive or abusive relationship of any kind can identify with the above list. Chances are that you also know what it's like to tell your story for the first time, and how much fear even thinking about doing that can bring up. If you're like me, you were met with hostility and disbelief from those you turned to for help.

Know this: anyone who gives you a hard time when you speak up for yourself is AFRAID of something. You are probably, without intending it, touching on a deep sense of helplessness within some of the people who hear or read your story. Some cannot fully accept what you are saying without having to acknowledge their own complicity in the problem.

I have heard everything from, "It wasn't that bad," to "Talking about it gives innocent people a bad name by association," to "Why aren't you doing more to prevent it from happening to someone else?"

This is a case of killing the messenger. I'm the only direct contact some people will have with anyone in my story. I'm the only person available on whom they can vent their fears, frustrations, and outrage.

Talking about how your life was taken over by another person or group is scary and humiliating; it also goes against our basic survival instincts to advertise our vulnerabilities. But we need the support of others. I think that probably, for every five people we tell, we may find one supportive person--but we do find them eventually.

I have found some people I can trust with the details of what happened to me and have come a long way toward recovering my identity and my self-respect, but it took time.

I have made the decision to be vocal about my experiences with the Q Group in A.A. meetings in D.C., but I have come to that decision slowly. I respect the right of others to do what is in their own best interests, and to help others in the way they see fit (not the way I have done it).

Posted by: XQ | July 30, 2007 12:57 AM

XQ, thanks for your excellent post! As a member in Northern VA with over 20 years, I was very disturbed to read about the Midtown situation. I've read enough and checked with enough folks to assure myself that the story is true, and if anything it's just the tip of the iceberg.

I want to do what I can to help see that this situation is cleaned up and doesn't happen again. I think that the free flow of information could help facilitate this. I really admire you and the others who are coming forward. I'm thinking that this blog on washingtonpost.com is insufficient (it doesn't have subtopics or allow answering specific posts as a BBS does) and, as it's based around just one story, could go away at any time. So I think one thing members could do is find a good platform, or set one up, where members could discuss this whole issue and remain anonymous if they wish, but also possibly have some way of connecting with each other as well. I'm going to look into this.

I've talked with my friends in the program and most seem reluctant to do anything. This is another facet of the problem which to me is disturbing. It's not just anonymity but also the belief that each group is autonomous (forgetting "except in matter affecting AA as a whole"), the belief that anger is dangerous, the belief that no one should take another's inventory, and so on. I think these are harmful uses of good principles.

My belief is (as I wrote above) is that I'm personally responsible to see that the hand of AA is there for others as it was there for me. That's something we all subscribe to as members, and if enough people do nothing, nothing will change.

I set up an anonymous email account and you can email me if you wish at midtownfeedback@yahoo.com and I'll answer.

I am heading off to work now but I was interested in your description of cult stages. This reminds me of the book "Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China" by Robert Jay Lifton (1961) and what's called the Stanford Prison Experiment. (wikipedia references with other refs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Jay_Lifton and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment).

Lifton describes 8 techniques of thought control which might seem familiar. I studied this but for now I'm copying this little bit from wikipedia as I'm pressed for time.

" * Milieu Control -- The control of information and communication.
* Mystical Manipulation -- The manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated.
* Demand for Purity -- The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection.
* Confession -- Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group.
* Sacred Science -- The group's doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute.
* Loading the Language -- The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand.
* Doctrine over person -- The member's personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.
* Dispensing of existence -- The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not.
"

Bye for now.


Posted by: DCC | July 30, 2007 2:31 PM

And, just to make it absolutely clear here, it's the use of techniques for sexual exploitation and possibly other exploitation that's so disturbing to me.

Posted by: DCC | July 30, 2007 2:34 PM

I can't believe that someone like Kristin who supposedly had these horrible things happen to her only had the following to say to sum up her experience with Midtown - "Eight years of my life was wasted,"

Now, come on people, if the atrocities that she and others contend did indeed happen while being associated with Midtown, how can anyone sum things up with such a flaccid statement?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2007 3:39 PM

That was the way the story ended. We don't know all that she had to say. You should read the comments above for more perspective.

I grant you, it was a weak ending. It also didn't say whether she was sober or not.

But the evidence is very strong. I've talked to people I trust completely and I have no doubt this happened.

Posted by: DCC | July 30, 2007 4:13 PM

But it was an excellent story. Thank you, Marc Fisher! You have done a real service.

Posted by: DCC | July 30, 2007 4:24 PM

OK "Get a Grip"This was not Genocide, this didn't happen in all those other states, NO LAWS WERE BROKEN, and I am not a fan of the Midtown group. But there is nothing news about this. This has happened in almost every part of the country I've been in. Hell I've been hit on by younger and older woman, it happens both ways. All I was saying is it is more likely to happen then not. This is not news!!!!Has Raw Fisher looked into any other large groups of AA young people? I'm sorry to if he did, he would find more of the same. It doesn't make it right, it's just how it is. Get a Grip Back at ya LOLOLO

Posted by: Richard Hodges, Fl | July 30, 2007 7:55 PM

I think the point is that it is a systemic problem of a large, organized group of sober men (mostly men, I assume, but could be wrong?) telling young girls to have older men as sponsors and to have sex with them as a way to work the Steps/be more spiritual, what to do with their money, ordering them to clean their houses, cut off or reduce ties with friends/family/medical professionals, stop taking medication, etc.

I don't think this is going on in every large AA young people's group in the country.

I agree that there are individual creepy people in AA, and even creepy meetings where the general vibe is uncomfortable and/or hostile and/or controlling and/or demeaning, etc.

But I don't think that the structure, hierarchy and complex system of directing young people in terms of who they have sex with and what they do with their money and who they socialize with and so on is NOT a common phenomenon in AA as a whole, or in young people's meetings in particular.

Yes, there are individual jackasses in AA. That's not the same situation as what has been described as happening at Midtown.

Posted by: s | July 30, 2007 9:43 PM

Oops, double negative in that last sentence. Should be:

But I think that the structure, hierarchy and complex system of directing young people in terms of who they have sex with and what they do with their money and who they socialize with and so on is NOT a common phenomenon in AA as a whole, or in young people's meetings in particular.

Posted by: s | July 30, 2007 9:48 PM

Mr. Hodges, I agree completely with s. This situation is a complete perversion of the program. Having sex with your sponsor is not "service work", as they preach. A girl who says "no" to sex with someone she doesn't even know is not being selfish, as they proclaim. going to "any lengths" to stay sober doesn't mean sex. It's a sickening perversion because it harms people, possibly irretrievably, and it prevents people from getting sober.

As far as illegality, all we can say is that it hasn't been proven yet in a court of law.

Posted by: DCC | July 30, 2007 10:17 PM

Midtown was my homegroup for several years. I liked your article better than others I've read because it made it clear that what goes on at Midtown is not AA and describes what AA is really about. I'm definately a stickler for the traditions and I avoid meetings where they don't practice the traditions. There is one thing, however, that has bothered me about all this media coverage. Every article I've read and everything I've seen on the news makes it sound like everyone at Midtown engages in behaviors like the ones described in the article, which is definately not true. I'd say that only about 1/3 of the members behave that way, if that. I still have some close friends from the Midtown group that I still talk to. The main reason I left was because I felt like they were too controlling. I also thought the notion of being lower in the "hierarchy" because of how much sobriety I had or who my sponsor was seemed absurd. I have always strongly believed that it doesn't matter how long you've been sober, you're still 1 drink away from a drunk. I can also honestly say that I would not be sober today if I had not gone to that particular group, but at the same time, I don't think I'd still be sober if I hadn't left.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2007 11:13 PM

Marc Fisher you should be ashamed of yourself! Shame on you for the confusion you have added to, the controversy that you have incited, and the lies that you have perpetuated!

Posted by: No Fish for you | July 31, 2007 9:00 AM

I completely agree with you anonymous on the fact that everyone is making it seem as if everyone in the group participates in such behavior. I go to midtown meetings all the time and have been for a long time now. I have never seen someone from the MG tell someone else they had to have sex to get sober. They even had fliers at one point in the meetings expressing how much they are against that. I have heard about the medication thing but not that people had to get off meds ....rather that certain people did not feel comfortable sponsoring others on meds because they have not had personal experience getting sober with meds or sponsoring anyone on meds. With the sex accusations, these things happened many years ago. A lot of people in MG don't even know who the hell Mike Q is let alone the rest of the people mentioned here. If they do kmnow who these people are, it's from reading stuff like this. I am not saying it happened because I do believe it did, but It's not going on now. There are so many people that have came and gone since all that happened. I just really thing it's F&*ked up that people want to crucify the whole group over certain individuals. I feel they should go after that Mike Q guy, but don't go after the majority of the MG who really want to stay sober and are doing the right thing. If this stuff was going on right now at the MG the police or whoever investigated would have found it to be true especially with accusations like that. You really can't hide that stuff too well when everyone's on the lookout for it.

Posted by: anonymous #2 | July 31, 2007 9:22 AM

This story smells fishy to me. If the police are saying that nobody has come forward and no charges have been filed against anyone in the Midtown group, then what is the REAL issue?

It seems to me that Midtown is being persecuted and tyrannized by a few weak and cowardly mommas-little-darlings who happen to be very well connected. This is certainly not the first time in history that a group, being not in the 'status quo', has been singled out, demonized, and persecuted.

What I want to know is, who is in charge of rounding up the torches and pitch forks?

Marc?

Who from Midtown shall be burnt at the stake first?

Time to buy some marshmellows!

Posted by: No WMD | July 31, 2007 9:29 AM

Well, there is plenty of evidence that these things are going on now.

Police have not said no one has come forward. The reason no charges have been filed yet is that they need to hear this from a female fifteen or younger.

What is fishy is the comments denouncing the story from people who appear in denial here and who overlook the facts. Additionally, no one has said that everyone is participating in this or that no one has gotten sober. What is needed here is for this situation to be cleaned up.

Posted by: DCC | July 31, 2007 9:59 AM

Thank you Marc for your professionalism, expertise and talent in investigating and reporting on this anomaly in AA.
AA is an open book, unlike the Catholic Church, government, big business etc.
This group represents some of the sickest participants in the AA world. I would ask that your readers and the many contributors here simply pray that this Midtown group receive a healing. Only God can change this errant group and their selfish behaviors. May His Mercy and Grace bring them out of their self-centered dispositions. Thank you Marc, you're a blessing to us in AA. Hopefully, not one more newcomer will be subjected to such a sick group.

Posted by: John H. '87 | July 31, 2007 10:39 AM

Looks like just about anyone with a computer and internet connection can weigh in here. What really scares me about this whole thing is that these anonymous bloggers like DCC and John H. are acting as if they are some sort of authority. They must be right because they say so. Most of the people who comment here have never been to midtown, and those that have sound like they are drunk or spiritually intoxicated with themselves.

Marc Fisher and all the critics - shame on yourselves!

Posted by: Cowardlike Anonymous Blogger | July 31, 2007 11:00 AM

Looks like DCC has volunteered to gather the pitch forks and torches!

Or would it be better to just have a old fashioned lynching?

Let's go get those Midtowners!

Didn't something like this happen in Salem a while back. Someone fabricated some lies about people that were then unjustly burned as Witches at the stake?

Marc has done nothing but contribute to the violent, hate filled Mob mentality that is tyrannizing this blog - shame on you Marc!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2007 12:25 PM

Nice going, Mr. or Ms. "Anonymous" and "Cowardlike Anonymous Blogger". If you read my posts above, you will see that what I propose is that Midtown undergo some kind of recovery. It is unacceptable that young women who come to AA looking for help are tricked into sex with sponsors. This is not AA.

As far as the ongoing criminal investigation goes, I have nothing to do with it but if there is a crime here, I hope that the investigation is successful.

It looks like denial and rationalization are alive and well with some Midtown folks. I got my 2 year chip at Midtown in 1987 and haven't relapsed so you do the math. I thought Midtown was extremely boisterous and welcoming. But there was something about it I wasn't comfortable with and didn't go back (beyond that I'm not very close to DC). I have talked to some female old timers I have known for several decades and have found out they had experiences very close to those described in the article.

If you are in recovery, please remember our responsibility statement that we all subscribe to: "When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible."

Posted by: DCC | July 31, 2007 2:18 PM

HOW WILL YOU FEEL AFTER YOU HAVE DESTROYED AA AS A WHOLE WITH YOUR PERSONAL GRUDGES TOWARDS ONE GROUP? DO YOU REALLY FEEL THAT YOU ARE THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE "REAL AA"? HOW POMPOUS!!! THE MAJORITY OF US WANT YOU TO STOP PERSECUTING THIS GROUP PUBLICLY BECAUSE YOU ARE DISPARRAGING THE ENTIRE NAME OF AA!!!! THIS MEANS YOU JERKS!!!

WHEN WILL OUR VOICE BE HEARD? THE SILENT MAJORITY WHO KNOWS THAT YOU REALLY WISH TO HELP NO ONE AND THAT THIS IS JUST A PERSONAL AXE YOU HAVE TO GRIND. YOU ARE DESTROYING THE NAME OF AA JUST TO SEE YOUR MALISCIOUS PLANS WROUGHT ON A FEW PEOPLE YOU HATE IN THIS GROUP.

YOU CAN'T EVEN SEE IT BECAUSE YOU ARE SO INTOXICATED BY WHAT YOU PERCEIVE TO BE YOUR OWN CLEVERNESS. DO YOU REALLY THINK THE GENERAL PUBLIC IS GOING TO TAKE THE TIME TO DISCERN THE GOOD GROUPS FROM THE BAD, AND OF COURSE RUN TO YOU FOR THE "REAL AA" MESSAGE? NO, YOU ASSES, THEY WILL NOT. THEY WILL WRITE OFF AA AS A WHOLE. THAT IS HOW IT WORKS!

Posted by: Anon | July 31, 2007 2:31 PM

Anon, get hold of yourself and take a couple of deep breaths.

The sexual predators at Midtown - and I have never said this is everyone there - are responsible for any bad publicity AA receives. The abuse seems planned, widespread, and terribly harmful, and has been going on for years.

Before I wrote about or even knew anything about Midtown:

Newsweek wrote a story about this sexual abuse that was distributed nationally.

The Washington Post, one of the world's principal newspapers, published a front page story in their Sunday edition about this sexual abuse that went around the world. This story was picked up by UPI.

A noted clinical psychologist wrote an open letter about this sexual abuse.

A number of churches kicked out Midtown groups from their premises.

So when you say I'm responsible for the bad publicity you aren't thinking very clearly. Because the only thing the public will judge us for now is if members do nothing to clear this up. And we want sexual abuse at Midtown ended don't we? No AA member supports sexual abuse, do they?

Our literature says that all members are responsible for seeing that the hand of AA is there for those who need help. Not the hand of sexual predators.

No one is a spokesperson for AA and we are each allowed our say as long as we're anonymous in the media. That, and our other traditions, have contributed to an environment where sexual abuse can flourish. But those perpetrating it are not in the majority. 95% of members in the DC region knew nothing about the Midtown abuses, are sickened by it, and want it to stop. Midtown needs recovery.

I doubt this blog is still being read by very many people, so it's probably not very productive to continue posting here. A better forum may be available, including other Internet sites and Midtown meetings themselves.

Posted by: DCC | July 31, 2007 3:42 PM

^^ If you're really worried about newcomers being turned off by all of the accusations, then shut the cult down, make the group disband, and get yourself to some real AA meetings--all of you. Then the not-so-silent majority of local AA's will stop talking about the Midtown problem and will be able to get on with their lives with the knowledge that the newcomers/young people of AA are in safe meetings.

Oh, and why don't you familarize yourself with P.D. Ouspensky and G.I. Gurdjieff. The mind control/cult methods as practiced by Mike Q. and his main lieutenants originate from Q's extremely perverted/limited understanding of their teachings. Knowledge is Power :-)

Thanks to Mark Fisher for the great article. For local AA's it's been a long time coming!!!

Posted by: Opera Glass | July 31, 2007 3:54 PM

DCC - Everything that was written is alleged. The psychologist talked about the cult aspect and the supposed anti-medication campaign. You need to back off of the medication that you are taking or pull your head out of your a$$ - something seems to be seriously affecting your judgement.

There is no midtown manifesto saying that the goal of the group is to become sexual predators. In fact, there is more success at midtown than anywhere else in the DC area. That is why you are so mad because you are a sick pathetic loser.

Posted by: DCCCCCC | July 31, 2007 3:57 PM

If you need pitchforks please contact: pitchforks4U@gmail.com

The specialty of pitchforks4U is that they will personally engrave your pitchfork with the name or names of your most hated midtown members for a nomimal charge.

Posted by: Kachow! | July 31, 2007 4:08 PM

NICE TRY, BUT I'M AFRAID THAT IS NOT EXACTLY HOW IT ALL WENT DOWN. NOT HOW THIS TOOK PLACE AT ALL.

NEWSWEEK REPORTED THE STORY ABOUT MIDTOWN BECAUSE DAVID A.'S BEST FRIEND, NICK SOMMERS, IS ON THE WRITING STAFF THERE. DAVID A. IS ONE OF THE INSTIGATORS OF ALL OF THIS CONTROVERSY AND HE ASKED HIM AS A FAVOR IF NEWSWEEK WOULD DO A STORY ON IT. HE BROUGHT HIM PEOPLE TO GIVE TESTIMONY ON THE STORY SO A RESOURCE COULD BE SITED. THE STORY OF SEXUAL ABUSES WAS SECLUDED TO THE ACCUSATIONS OF ONLY A HANDFULL OF PEOPLE. NEWSWEEK DID NOT INVESTIGATE THE STORY INDEPENDENTLY WITHOUT DAVID A. CONTACTING HIS FRIEND FIRST, AND THEN HAVING HIM PUSH THE STORY ON THE EDITORS.

THE STORY WAS MANUFACTURED BY DAVID A. AND OTHERS WHO I WILL NOT NAME. DAVID A. AND OTHERS HAD BEEN HARRASSING MIDTOWN MEMBERS FOR MONTHS WITH THREATENING E-MAILS AND LETTERS TO THEIR HOMES. THEY WERE VERY ANGRY ABOUT HOW THEY FELT THEY WERE TREATED WHILE THEY WERE IN THAT GROUP, SO MUCH SO THAT THEY DECIDED TO TAKE REVENGE.

THERE WERE LIES AND EXAGERRATIONS IN THE ARTICLE, JUST LIKE THIS ONE. THERE WERE TRUTHS TOO. YOU NEED TO GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF AND GET REAL. MOSTLY, YOU NEED TO QUIT INSULTING OUR INTELLIGENCE, KID.

Posted by: Anon | July 31, 2007 4:10 PM

As a member of Midtown for 3 plus years, I can honestly say I feel sympathy towards anyone who felt pressured to have sex before they were ready (yes, no one's perfect, even Mike Q) or who thought they were pressured to get off their meds.

But honestly, wouldn't everyone be better off, including them, if they had not gone public with it? I mean this might just be me, but personally, if a few girls are encouraged to have sex at a slightly young age and the result is that hundreds of other young people stay sober -- is that the end of the world?!?!?!

Posted by: Jeff S. | July 31, 2007 4:10 PM

It's getting a little tedious here but I'll make one or two more responses.

Yes, the story is alleged. That's why I starting asking my many contacts from 22 years of meetings about Midtown. It didn't take long to hear some pretty extreme stories similar to those (actually worse) in the article. I urge every AA member in the Washington area to do this and find out for yourself. This situation is everyone's responsibility to clean up. I have never said there was a "manifesto". I said there is a pattern of sexual abuse.

I'm assuming that if you believed there was a pattern of sexual abuse at Midtown you would want it ended. That's all anyone in our program wants, for the abuse to stop. It shouldn't take much imagination for anyone to figure out why every AA member wants sexual abuse to stop now.

Midtown is a small part of a very large AA membership in the DC region. There are many successful groups, and as we don't keep statistics there is no way to know which groups are more successful than others.

Posted by: DCC | July 31, 2007 4:21 PM

Anon, are you on the Newsweek editorial staff? How do you know what went on behind the scenes there?

This David A person must be the next Harry Houdini if he can get an illegitimate story published in Newsweek, ABC, NBC, Fox, and the Washington Post.

By the way, I love it when you type in ALL CAPS. It really helps DRIVE THE POINT HOME. It's like nothing you're saying matters unless you USE THE CAPS LOCK KEY FIRST.

Posted by: CAPS LOCK | July 31, 2007 4:40 PM

Jeff, you have written a thoughtful comment to which I'd like to respond. I have talked to Midtown members and former members who got sober there and liked the group. As I said earlier, I got my 2 year chip in '87 (Church of the Pilgrims Sun PM) and thought it was a friendly group although I felt a vibe that didn't seem right so I didn't go back. I'm sure that every female is not hit on.

However, here's one story I heard from a woman who went in the late '80s who. I know her well and never heard this until last week. Her proposed sponsor, when she was 18, was a man in his late 60s (now deceased). He took her aside and explained how sex with him would open up her spiritual self, how it would be a selfless act and help her get sober. This man was regarded as a "leader" of Midtown, well known. She declined, thinking this was an individual aberration.

Then she went to a pool party to which she was invited by another man, another prominent "leader", possibly in early 40s. When she got to his pool she found everyone naked, men and women, females for the most part teenagers. It was instantly apparent that this was a sexual situation so she left.

Young people who come to our program are already in a confusing stage of life. Anyone who comes in is very likely to be whipped by alcohol or addiction. They aren't thinking clearly. They are depressed and fearful and ashamed. We all know this because most of us have gone thru the same thing. When a young woman is preyed upon by a older man at this point, a man she has been urged to trust, in an environment proclaimed to be safe and helping, this is unconscionable. When the man uses the program slogans to pressure her, this is also unconscionable. Our program is a program of honesty, taking responsibility for our actions, making amends, and taking steps to make sure we lead a good life. Young women have been harmed. We can't just sweep this under the rug.

OK, so Midtown helps many people get sober. I'll accept that for the sake of argument.

You ask: "if a few girls are encouraged to have sex at a slightly young age and the result is that hundreds of other young people stay sober -- is that the end of the world?!?!?!" Well, other people getting sober is not a result of a "few girls" having sex. What's the connection? Is there something intrinsic about our program that says some females must have sex so that others can enter recovery?

The Midtown situation, while it may not be unique in history, is awfully bad, based on my long experience with the program. It ranks at the bottom, and it's not remotely a close call. As members, we all share responsibility that Midtown enters recovery, retains the good and dispenses with the bad.

Posted by: DCC | July 31, 2007 4:54 PM

What Anon says is true. David A. is a mothers-little-darling-daddy-gave-me-a-trust-fund writer wannabee who grew up with Nick Summers (the Newsweek reporter). They are both connected with Marc Fisher somehow. All of this is much more verifiable than the scuttlebut that article contends is going on in the midtown group. Check it out for yourself.

Posted by: InAgreementWithAnon | July 31, 2007 6:03 PM

Actually, Marc Fisher was someone I contacted because I had read his Wash Post columns on Scientology and other mind-control groups and so I thought he would be the right person to cover Midtown.

Marc decided the Midtown story was interesting and then I gave him a few people to contact -- people both inside and outside Midtown.

Posted by: Lauren | July 31, 2007 6:35 PM

Then you, Lauren, join the ranks of Marc as being one of the most disgusting people in the Washington DC area.

Posted by: Anon | July 31, 2007 7:19 PM

Thank you, Lauren, for coming forward. And I applaud you for what turned out to be a powerful piece that sparked a lot of legitimate concern and dialogue.

Looks like InAgreementWithAnon, and all the others who have so bombastically declared that David A. influenced the Post, have simply been guessing ... and announcing their guesses as gospel truth.

Makes me wonder what else they've been making up.

Posted by: SoberinWashington | July 31, 2007 7:55 PM

Thank you, Lauren, for coming forward. And I applaud you for what turned out to be a powerful piece that sparked a lot of legitimate concern and dialogue.

Looks like InAgreementWithAnon, and all the others who have so bombastically declared that David A. influenced the Post, have simply been guessing ... and announcing their guesses as gospel truth.

Makes me wonder what else they've been making up.

Posted by: SoberinWashington | July 31, 2007 7:55 PM

Thank you, Lauren, for coming forward. And I applaud you for what turned out to be a powerful piece that sparked a lot of legitimate concern and dialogue.

Looks like InAgreementWithAnon, and all the others who have so bombastically declared that David A. influenced the Post, have simply been guessing ... and announcing their guesses as gospel truth.

Makes me wonder what else they've been making up.

Posted by: SoberinWashington | July 31, 2007 7:55 PM

I thought I had said my last here but...

Thank you, Lauren! It takes courage to come forward and initiative to get our story noticed enough that it's on the first page of the Post. I also have thanked Marc Fisher.

I think anybody following these recent blog entries today can see what kind of response those who challenge the Midtown enforcers will get. Actually, the Post removed at least one nasty one directed at me this afternoon. I wish they'd left it up because it shows even better what these people are like.

If you've read any of my posts you know that I think Midtown needs recovery and that all true AA members have a responsibility here. I don't know anyone at Midtown but I would like to join in helping out. Any ideas?

BTW I will be at Dr Bob's group at the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean,VA at 7:30 PM Friday. It is near the corner of Dolly Madison (Rte 123) and Great Falls St tucked in the first side street off Great Falls a block off Dolly Madison (towards Falls Church). This is a very friendly group with a huge amount of sobriety. You can also email me at midtownfeedback@yahoo.com.

Posted by: DCC | July 31, 2007 9:58 PM

If you are interested in a forum to discuss solutions to help resolve issues in the DC AA community, here is a link to a discussion board:
http://syddv.proboards88.com/index.cgi?board=general

Posted by: The Midtown problem | July 31, 2007 10:34 PM

There are almost 2000 meetings a week in the Washington DC area. Midtown meets 1 night a week. Someone, please, DO THE MATH! Look it up for yourself. How can one little group, that is such a minority in the DC area, have such supposed warped power and influence over the other 1999 meetings?

I am agreeing more and more with what was said earlier, that this Midtown group is being persecuted in a persistent, methodical and calculated fashion.

Posted by: Washingtonian | July 31, 2007 11:14 PM

Marc - I feel sorry for you and your children, what an embarrassment you must be, or soon will be, to them, yourself, and the rest of your family.

Posted by: Not Sure DCC | July 31, 2007 11:27 PM

I think everyone is missing the whole point. No one is accusing the Midtown Group entirely (that means all members) of this behavior. It isn't criminal according to Maryland laws. OK It isn't criminal by 12 months. All you AA's look at it closely. 50+ male having sex with 16,17 or 18 year old girl, newly sober, and very vulnerable. Maybe more than one in the group doing this. Maybe 2. Maybe more. Then look at the young boys or men 16,17 and up, sponsored by the 50+ having sex. I'm sure that it is very appealing to them and I'm sure that the young males aspire to this way of living. After all, Mike Q and his leutenants are so happy and have it made. This is the life! This is sobriety. This can happen to you if you stay sober. You too can have what we have. Then look at the women in the group..Some appear on the outside to be so healthy..Married, some of them. Enganged a few. All have a man in their life. The man I described above. It all looks great. Now let's talk about sobriety..define it..well I'm sure there are many definitions. So if you want to say that Midtown has helped a lot of people get sober. I agree..they have helped people not use drugs and alcohol. Anyone with any length of sobriety knows that that is just the beginning. Physical sobriety is easily achieved even without AA. These children and young adults are being directed into a life of poor morals, no convictions, and a value system that is in the gutter. Doesn't that sound like what life was like when we were all using and drinking! Washington AA...admit it..there is a huge problem going on in AA in your area. It could affectt AA as a whole if you continue to minimize and justify it! I suggest that everyone better pray a lot because no one seems to be able to step up to the plate and do something about the Midtown group. It has been going on for years, multiplying,infiltrating and taking over Washington AA. Very sad!

Posted by: Betsy | August 1, 2007 12:31 AM

To Washingtonian - It is not just a single meeting that occurs one night a week. The Midtown name comes from that one meeting at Church of the Pilgrims, but has come to refer to numerous meetings that occur each day/night of the week throughout the DC area. Someone in this blog posted the list above.

Posted by: s | August 1, 2007 9:01 AM

well I guess it was going to get ugly and personal here sooner or later. I was never a "Q" person but atteneded Midtown and Choir hundreds of times. I can see there are some truths on both sides of this story. There are plenty of very helpful people that are not "predators" and the meeting does help a number of young people get sober (though the success rate is probably overstated), I obsereved alot of turnover and a whole lot of white chip collectors among the members, and a smaller core that were familiar. There are also some negative people, like any other meeting, but I think I now know what a young girl at choir was referring to when she shared "I never knew sex could be so spiritual" and everyone busted out laughing.

Posted by: DC AA'er | August 1, 2007 9:43 AM

All I keep reading here is stuff that happened many years ago. Has anyone come forward with anything that has happened let's say after 2000? The group has evolved with many other people since then and like I said before, the majority probably doesn't even know who the hell Mike Q is!. All that stuff happened like over ten years ago! Some cases over 20 years ago. And for the people saying they are not persecuting the whole group why don't you look at most of the posts against midtown. Like I said before These females and males making accusations against the group should make it against those specific individuals who did wrong to them. I am all for that. Just don't ruin someone else's success in sobriety because you feel the whole group needs to be disbanded because of resentments towards individuals. Whether it happened or not, it's not the whole group of midtown that's sick but individuals in the midtown group.

Posted by: anonymous #2 | August 1, 2007 10:53 AM

Thanks to Betsy for spelling things out for the *few* people that cannot seem to understand the MG problem (although I think it's the same one or two people posting over and over again...all of their posts sound the same.)

I'd also like to add that Washingtonians have been trying to fix this problem for decades, and a lot of people have left Midtown, but unfortunately they've been quickly replaced by hordes of unsuspecting newcomers. Hopefully the recent press coverage will significantly hinder their means of recruiting newcomers.

Posted by: Opera Glass | August 1, 2007 11:06 AM

cannot seem to understand the MG problem (although I think it's the same one or two people posting over and over again...all of their posts sound the same.)

I'd also like to add that Washingtonians have been trying to fix this problem for decades, and a lot of people have left Midtown, but unfortunately they've been quickly replaced by hordes of unsuspecting newcomers. Hopefully the recent press coverage will significantly hinder their means of recruiting newcomers.

Posted by: Opera Glass | August 1, 2007 11:08 AM

I see marc fisher is filtering our posts now. So much for unbiased journalism. Does it get any closer to facism than this?

Posted by: XXX | August 1, 2007 11:17 AM

That's okay Marc, don't post my comments. Anon posts the truth and the truth must be silenced, according to Marc Fisher, journalist savant.

Posted by: Anon | August 1, 2007 11:25 AM

More comments on this. All of these articles that attack the Midtown group operate almost entirely on erroneous assumptions. First, these articles assume they these newly sober alcoholics male or female are some kind of angels that walk into a meeting and are then taken advantage of. In my years in AA, I have never met a more intense group of shallow status seeking snobs than that of alcoholics in AA. This is true of everyone in AA and is especially true of women in AA. The vast majority of females that come into AA have led an extremely promiscuous life. And the real joke here is that in these articles they talk about having sex in AA as if it was some sort of taboo thing for them. You're joking, right! Females in AA are very forward sexually. That is a fact which no one here seems to own up for. It needs to be said because it is the truth. Many females in AA sleep around alot.

Alcoholics love power, any power they can get. These articles have arisen because one group of people wants revenge on another group of people. Probably equal in size. About 10-15 Concerned Friends Group people are attacking roughly 10-15 Midtown people. The rest of us are caught in the middle. The net result as I said earlier is that the name of AA gets ruined. And believe me it will.

And so we hear about these little angels that walk into the meeting get taken advantage of. But really if you were to check their life history you would find out they are thieves, liars and con artists. That's what alcoholics are. So now we have to sit here and listen to the testimony of one liar/con artist give complaints about another liar/con artist, and the really funny part is that you get all these people to jump on the band wagon and become part of this lynch mob.

What a friggin joke. If you were to check this board closely, you will see that almost none of the people posting negative things about Midtown on here have even spent any time in Midtown. Or if they did, it was some 7-20 years ago. What good does that do us in the here and now? None. I don't subscribe to someone else's paranoia, not Midtowns and definitely not the Midtowns Attackers. It is absurd to accept as law what this lynch mob says about Midtown. You can hardly call yourself a thinking person if you do.

Posted by: Anon | August 1, 2007 11:27 AM

TO CAPS LOCK, OKAY I WILL STOP WRITING IN CAPS. BUT WHEN DEALING WITH A LYNCH MOB SUCH AS THE ONE IN THE DC AREA TRYING TO LYNCH THE MIDTOWN GROUP, SOMETIMES YOU GOTTA YELL IN THEIR FACES BEFORE ANYONE WILL LISTEN TO YOU; A LA MALCOLM X. IN THIS CASE IT WOULD SEEM THAT MIDTOWN IS THE OPPRESSED, ALTHOUGH THAT PROBABLY WASN'T THE ORIGINAL INTENTION. TRUE.

So let me address some things here. Firstly about David A. and this girl Lauren who has supposedly "come forward" to say that she suggested the story to the Washington Post and then they found it interesting and wrote about it. That is an out and out lie. We're not buying it.

First of all, getting Midtown on the front page of the Post is an organized effort of the so called "Concerned Friends Group". It is not in any way whatsoever the action of a single person. These people have meetings once a week where they discuss the ways in which they can completely destroy the Midtown Group. They have been meeting and organizing their efforts for over a year and a half using everything at their disposal. One of their choice weapons as of late has been the press. UNDERSTAND THIS, IF IT WERE NOT FOR DAVID A.'S FRIENDSHIP WITH NICK SUMMERS, THE NEWSWEEK ARTICLE COULD NEVER HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED OR EVEN CONSIDERED. FACT!!! THUS NO LOCAL NEWS STORIES WOULD HAVE EVEN CONSIDERED AIRING THE STORY ON THE LOAL NEWS EITHER. AND MOST CERTAINLY, THIS STORY WOULD'VE NEVER MADE IT TO THE WASHINGTON POST. FACT!!!

Also there is the fact that Newsweek magazine is OWNED by the Washington Post so that makes establishing credibility to write the article that much easier. This Lauren girl is full of it. Some lone girl came forward to the Post with the story, what a crock sh*t. These Midtown attackers are organized and very calculated. They have been scheming on this for months. They model the tactics used by Karl Rove in the 2004 election.


Posted by: Anon | August 1, 2007 11:31 AM

Wow. The posts from the last couple of days really take me back--to the days I was in Midtown and tried to speak up about what I saw there, and the early days after leaving when I tried and failed to get outside help.

My experiences with Midtown started off positive enough, so it didn't really register in my brain that most of what I saw was very carefully choreographed. I was surrounded by people--swarmed. They all said the same things, seemingly independently of one another. Nobody expects this kind of approach unless they've witnessed it before. Nobody really understands the power of this technique unless it's been used on them (or they've tried it on others).

The technique is called "love bombing" by people who make a study of cults. In my case, it looked like this: I was warmly welcomed to their meetings; I was given rides almost daily to and from meetings by group members; I was asked all about myself, and all information--even what I considered boring or mundane--was treated as fascinating; I was invited to late-night group trips to the local diners for marathon talking sessions; a day never went by that a group member (or 5) didn't call just to see how I was doing.

I had just come from a very solitary period in my life where most of my time was spent drinking--if not alone, then with people I absolutely knew were not my true friends. The way I was treated in Midtown was a type of seduction--and it was planned, deliberate, and coordinated. This is how all newcomers are lured in--they are shown the very best face of the group and told over and over by many different members that they are WANTED.

When I had questions or doubts, they were also handled in a practiced, calculated, and coordinated manner. I might raise a question with one member, and then be approached by my sponsor about the matter soon afterwards (though I hadn't told her anything myself).

Once I started noticing that a couple of 15 year-old girls were spending too much time with a couple of 25 year-old men, I raised the issue with my boyfriend privately. The next time I attended a meeting, the leader stared at me the entire time he spoke to the group and talked about being judgmental and how we can't afford self-righteous anger--it's the surest way to a drink. He then smiled and asked if I wanted to share. Everyone looked at me. I hadn't raised my hand, and I said, No, I didn't want to share. He cocked his head to the side and asked if I was sure (smiling scarily). I declined again. He approached me afterwards to talk about my "judgmentalism." He was smiling, but also staring very intently and standing too close. This was one of Mike's right hand people. I had never spoken to him personally about my concerns.

Over the course of my time there, this scenario happened a lot more often--I would voice an objection to one person, and would then be approached by someone else on the matter and "slammed" (reamed out). Then I would (seemingly out of the blue) get a call or a visit from someone I was friendly with to smooth over the hurt feelings and pull me back in.

The point is that the group is not what it seems. What they don't tell you when they are so warmly welcoming you into the fold is that, once you are in, you will have no privacy. What you tell your sponsor will be told to his or her sponsor. All information gets back to Mike (or Jack or Arno or Beth or someone else of favored status) and can be used to manipulate you--even though you thought you were telling something in confidence to a person you trusted.

Your 5th Step will be used against you.

(Note to those not in a 12-step group: the 5th step reads as follows: "Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.")

If you are in the group--or if you just attend a few of their meetings and have therefore convinced yourself that you are "in" the group--try speaking up about something you don't like that affects either Mike or Jack or Arno and see what madness ensues. Of course, to get close enough to know about a lot of the stuff that goes on there--especially the financial stuff--you'd have to get deeply involved. They won't let you do that unless they get you to either break the law or do something that they know goes against your conscience first--that way they will always have something to hold over your head should you try to betray them. One of the main reasons that some of the members aren't in jail right now is that the only people who can offer direct evidence against them are people with something really scary hanging over their heads.

The people who have posted that there are lots of members who don't engage in illegal activities and never see any going on are telling the truth. The biggest criminals in the group are not stupid--they don't share openly at meetings what they do with all the fund-raiser money. Most people in the group aren't aware that they've overspent by quite a lot on their hotel reservations to conferences--reservations made by someone in the group who could get a big discount (and a refund on the deposit that they didn't tell anyone about).

If you were to ask someone why they voluntarily paid lots of their hard-earned money to send their sponsor on a ski trip or to the exclusive Caribbean island of Mustique, or why pay for his car note, his rent, his beach house--you will hear some pap about love and service, about how it's a small amount to give back to the man who saved your life, yada yada yada. What the person won't tell you about are the private beratings, the "slamming," the way the loving sponsor always reminds the person of their shameful past (confessed in a private 5th step), and the threats of exclusion from the group.

If I can convey one thing to the people who are mystified as to what's going on here (and why people don't just walk away), it's this: The few truly malignant people at the top of the food-chain are very careful to conceal and disguise what they do. There is another (also small) group just outside the inner circle that knows some of the details of the worst things, but those people are either a part of it or they receive absolutely relentless abuse and threats (go along and you have a great life; make trouble and you lose your girlfriend or boyfriend, your fiancee, your wife, your friends, your housing). I cannot stress strongly enough that the people who object to anything that goes on in that group (which affects the way of life of those in power there) are setting themselves up for an organized, relentless attack and exclusion from the group.

Has anyone reading this ever been a witness to something morally wrong or illegal? Did you say something about it? What happened when you did? Did every person you were close to descend on you like a pack of vicious dogs? Did you try going to outsiders for help only to be met with disbelief and be told to "pray about it"? Did you go to the authorities and get told that there's no way to prove it because you can't produce witnesses (why? because all the witnesses are either guilty of something, benefitting in some way by protecting those guilty, under threat from the perpetrators, or suddenly absent without a trace from the group)?

Imagine that you report a crime one day, and then the next day your husband leaves you, your friends shun you, everyone in your neighborhood starts talking about how "toxic" you are, people spread rumors about you being drunk or on drugs, and people you were never close to in the first place start reminding you of shameful events from your past that you never told anyone except maybe your husband or closest friend. No one you know will talk to you or even look at you, except when they are verbally attacking you or staring you down. Maybe your car gets run off the road by a couple of laughing neighbors (this actually happened). Maybe someone reaches out to you and says they support you, but the next time you see that person, they are physically shaking and won't look you in the eye as they repeat whatever nasty chants the others have been saying.

You know, after I left (along with a big group of others), a bunch of Midtowners made a field trip to my friend's funeral, along with a smiling Arno, who was responsible for taking away her long-time boyfriend and sponsees, and getting her kicked out of the group. One girl, who had never met my friend in her life, came to the church wearing a skirt so short I could see her underwear when she sat down in the pew. Another of the new girls came up to my friend's grieving mother and told her that her daughter's death "really helped her a lot." What did she mean by that? Well, whenever someone leaves that group and relapses, the group holds them up as an example of what happens to people who leave. I and my dead friend hadn't been near that group for some time, and they rolled in to my friend's funeral (the friend they ostracized) 25-deep. They have no shame.

If you think this isn't an issue that affects A.A. as a whole, consider this: I found this group by calling the A.A. Hotline. The person who answered told me about the Sunday meeting, which I then found in the Where and When (the directory of meetings published by the Washington Area Intergroup Association that lists all meetings in the DC metro area). At the group conscience held at Midtown where it was decided that a whole group of us would be removed from the official membership list and not allowed to vote in group consciences any more, it was A.A. traditions that were cited as the justification for this. Victor B., a respected old-timer in D.C. A.A., came to the group conscience and SIDED WITH THE PEOPLE DOING THIS TO US. One of the members (Barbara) justified our exclusion by saying she had gone down to Florida to talk to Sandy B., and said that the action had his approval (which I suspect it did not). The group's leaders are using A.A. traditions and respected A.A. members to justify their malicious actions. They are using an assumed identity as a legitimate A.A. group to promote practices that are the antithesis of what A.A. actually promotes. Many of those within the group who see rotten things going on are led to believe that it all has A.A.'s stamp of approval--that it's all "a part of what we do here." Many of us who left believed that this WAS the real A.A.

The watchdogs of the group will bark pretty damn loudly about not dragging A.A. into public controversy--that's because this is what they consider their escape clause. And they're usually right. Most A.A. members I have encountered are completely reluctant to make this problem public, and they don't know what they can do on their own to help, so nothing ever gets done. It's Mike's get out of jail free card.

When I left, I tried to get help from a therapist to deal with the depression and the crippling fear that I would wind up dead (because that's what the group tells it's members every day--to leave is to drink and to drink is to die). I couldn't find anyone who had experience helping people who had left cults--and they said they didn't know of any colleagues who did have experience with that. The first two therapists I turned to had a lot of experience working with people in recovery from alcoholism, but they just kept repeating "A.A. is not a cult."

I've tried telling a lot of people in the program about what went on there and I get a lot of suggestions to pray, take an inventory, let it go. I still come across people who believe that, if it was so bad, the guilty would be in jail (though they might understand how that logic wouldn't apply to the head of an organized crime family, they don't seem to get it that the guilty are well-protected in this case, too). And then there are those filled with righteous indignation that want to know why I'm not storming Midtown meetings and getting them kicked out of D.C. A.A. To them I say: read the above.

To anyone else on here who has posted a supportive thread and been verbally attacked: ask yourself if you weren't just a little intimidated and tempted to back down. Then remember that this is completely anonymous and those posting don't even know who you are or where to find you. Now imagine that you are in the group and surrounded (even in your own home) by this viciousness. Or imagine that you have left and want to warn others, but to do so directly you will have to face these people--and they're organized and they know all your darkest secrets (5th step).

Does anyone have a plausible suggestion about what could be done?

My solution has been to warn people in my own meetings and the newcomers I encounter. I often give the suggestion that a newcomer get as many phone numbers as possible while reserving the right to NOT hand out their own to someone they've just met. I have adopted the position that a sponsor's role is NOT to give advice, but to help the sponsee develop the skills and support network necessary to solve their own problems and learn to make good decisions for themselves.

I often share in meetings that true recovery will allow you to become more fully involved in life, including in areas outside A.A. itself. True recovery gives you the ability to rejoin society as a whole, and not isolate yourself within the recovery community. And I personally make damned sure that my support network is diversified (because I never want "one clear voice" telling me not to trust myself ever again).

I repeat in meetings the slogan printed on every A.A. chip: to thine own self be true.

I do what I can, and I'm willing to consider doing more whenever possible.

Just don't make the mistake of thinking this is a simple problem with an easy solution.

Posted by: XQ | August 1, 2007 12:46 PM

XXX and Anon, I would also prefer the Wash Post not filter comments. However, I'm sure Marc Fisher has far more to do than enforce the policy at the bottom of the page which says that "profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site".

Whatever you wrote was apparently considered in one of these categories. But everyone here is an adult and I think the completely free flow of thoughts is far more important than politeness. I wish they would not censor unless the post is illegal in some way (and I don't know what that would be).

It's an entirely valid point to me that if all the problems occurred some years ago and have actually stopped, this should be taken under consideration. But I got a report from one woman as late as this past winter that leads me to believe that this is not the case. The problems may have gone down. If so that's good.

My sole point is that if older men at Midtown are operating under cover in the trusted, and to me, virtually sacred relationship of sponsor to seduce young women, not one single instance of this should ever tolerated. I have credible information that this occurred frequently in the past and that older men there still sponsor young women. The latter is in complete disregard of the conference-approved literature on sponsorship. As you know AA has no rules and regulations but in my experience these guideline are the result of bad experiences and AA members take such specific guidelines very seriously. As part of this point, convoluting our vocabulary so that "service work", "selfless" and "spirituality" mean sex with one's sponsor or a sponsor's designed person, whether exalted guru, friend or other, is unconscionable. These practices harm our program and harm the women victims horribly.

If the same people are in place in leadership positions who were there when women were exploited, even assuming they have stopped this conduct, I don't see how they could stay in such positions without admitting their behavior and making serious amends. In AA we are honest and own up to our mistakes. We don't sweep them under the rug.

I don't believe we could ever balance sexual predation with the good Midtown has done and say the balance falls on the side of the good. Sexual predation requires a zero tolerance policy and this must be made absolutely clear. The recent Midtown statement that I read says that Midtown does not support underage sex - so it just says that Midtown does not support breaking the law. It says nothing about sponsor-sponsee sex or other coerced sex. I thought that lack was a striking and telling omission.

These are extremely serious problems but if they can be cleared up, amends made and a process put in place so they never happen again, there's no reason Midtown ought to go away.


Posted by: DCC | August 1, 2007 2:24 PM

There is nothing wrong with male-female sponsorship. Only in the eyes of those who stand on the sidelines and gossip and judge people whose lives they no absolutely nothing about. None of the people on here even know the people in Midtown, they've only heard this or heard that about some "thing" that happened with some person. So then it must absolutely be true that any male who sponsors a female in AA must be having sex with her. Many women in AA don't trust other women and see them as competitive. Many women also want the advice and guidance of an older man who may seem wise to them. You're going to have to accept this. It's been a part of life for centuries. Ministers, gurus, professors, sponsors. This is nothing new. Actually, gurus and yogis have a reputation for using their positions to gain sex more than anyone. Should we go after the gurus now? I have friends who can attest to this.

Look at your thinking here. You people are being completely illogical, making rash generalizations about everything this group does. So what if older men sponsor younger women. It's totally ridiculous for you to stand on your pedestal and pass judgement on these people. Some of the things they are accused of are not even that bad. What I am starting to hear here is a lot of regretful sexual decisions made by women who were in this group. As they got more sober, their heads became clearer and they then started to regret the decisions they had made. Then they have to rationalize the decisions they made somehow to make themselves feel better, so they say that they were coerced into having sex. Every girl has slept with guys they've regretted sleeping with. That's one of the oldest emotions on record.

We often sleep with guys who we think we give us more social status or make us more popular. We sleep with guys that we think we like us more if we do. WE do this in High Schoo, in College, in life. I personally think this is what is going on here from reading the articles and the posts. No one forces you to have sex with anyone.

Posted by: Cherry2000 | August 1, 2007 2:58 PM

No DCC, there was nothing profane is those posts. Marc is filtering anything that is posted which debunks his story. He has Shanghai'd this controversy.

Because this story is very easy to debunk. The sources are not credible. Logical fallacies are abundant though out it. Sweeping generalizations have been made this Midtown Group based on the suppositions of a few people. Everything in the article seems to be some sort of self-fulfilling hypothesis.

Posted by: Anon | August 1, 2007 3:16 PM

I submitted a very long post that looks like it won't be included on this thread.

Here's the boiled down version:

The group misrepresents itself. It shows one face to newcomers and casual attenders. The other side is only revealed once the person has become fully involved in the group and leaving would be difficult and traumatic.

The group uses A.A. as a cover. I found it through the A.A. Hotline. It's meetings are listed in the Where and When (all but the private meetings held in members' homes). The traditions are used to justify their bad actions. The inventories are used to gain deeply personal information that is then NOT kept private and is, in fact, used against members. Well-respected members of "mainstream A.A." have been used by the group to justify it's bad actions, in one case that I know of WITH the person's participation, and in one case probably without the person's knowledge.

The group is like an onion: There is one leader at the center and ever-expanding layers outside of him. Those closest to the middle are complicit in everything he does and do a lot of nasty things themselves. There are plenty of people there who know that bad stuff happens (not just sexual), and many of them are too intimidated to speak up. Then there are lots and lots of people who never see any of it.

The inner core of the group is absolutely vicious and they have no limits. You will get a whiff of that from some of the posts you have already read. A whole crew of them showed up to my friend's funeral long after both of us had left. One girl who had NEVER even met my friend told her grieving mother that, "her death has really helped me a lot."

Many have tried to do something, and getting help is tricky. A lot of people in A.A. know all about this group and are afraid to confront them. Getting help from law enforcement is difficult because most of the witnesses to anything prison-worthy are either a part of it or have something hanging over their heads if they should ever decide to talk. Not all of the parents of girls who are being harmed are exactly a safe haven themselves.

When I left, I turned for help to therapists who work with recovering alchoholics. The first two had no experience with exiting cult members, and they didn't know anyone who did. Because of their own reliance upon the A.A. program, they kept insisting that "A.A. is not a cult," though I had never suggested it was.

When I left, rejoining A.A. was very difficult psychologically. The literature, the slogans, so much of the trappings of the Q group are just the same in A.A. Of course, in Midtown, lots of things about the program are twisted to suit their purposes. I tried to keep that in mind in "regular" meetings, but when everyone was chanting the same steps and the same prayers and quoting the same slogans (even if it was with a very different intent), it was a constant reminder of the threatening environment I had just escaped.

Whatever your reaction to this story, just know that what Marc Fisher wrote is a small part of it. Fully explaining that group and how it has managed to survive would take more paper than the Post is likely to let him have.

Posted by: XQ | August 1, 2007 4:42 PM

Well, for whatever reason they are deleted I think it's a bad decision. It is an important debate which might help get some kind of settlement or accord, or at least some more information out there.

I'm going to write Marc and ask that he prevail upon someone to get them reposted. I seriously doubt that Marc is sitting there waiting for posts - he's been doing other stories.

In the meantime if you have information please post it.

Posted by: DCC | August 1, 2007 4:44 PM

After reading all this stuff and posting my opinion, it seems to me that everyone has a different experience with both being in and leaving this group. I know people who left this group and their experience wasn't as all bad as you talk about. I guess we alcoholics are as Clancy says, "a neurotic bunch". If you have a crazy neurotic experience leaving Midtown with all this fear that you talk about, then you probably were a fearful, crazy neurotic person going into it. I doubt Midtown made you that way single-handedly.

But it still stands to reason that Midtown is a legitimate AA group because there are alcoholics in there who are living sober today. To say that Midtown is not really AA is false. People get and stay sober there. Period. People who are alcoholic. If an alcoholic joined the Hari Krishnas or some other cult, there would be scant chance of success in staying sober there. I know alcoholics and heavy drug users who've tried joining religious or other cults and they couldn't stay sober there.

Alcoholics of our type can only stay sober if we become part of AA. There are alcoholics of our type in Midtown who are staying sober there, we know this to be fact. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that Midtown is a legtimate AA group practicing the steps and traditions just like the rest of the groups. To say that Midtown is not AA is an invalid argument now because what you are really saying is that there are no alcoholics in Midtown.

I hope this logic has at least appealled to some of you. You may have many complaints that should be heard, but you cannot with any reason say that Midtown is not AA.

Posted by: Anon | August 1, 2007 5:19 PM

XQ, thank you for your comment above. I have no doubt that you are telling the truth. I hope you're participating at some of the other sites or lists in this. You could email me at midtownfeedback@yahoo.com for some more information.

Anon, I believe that you believe in Midtown. But based on my personal conversations and other information, I think the evidence is strong that at its core, it is exploitive and destructive of people, it is not AA and needs recovery itself.

Posted by: DCC | August 1, 2007 6:32 PM

dear dear cherri2000 - well you are really full of your self - i can imagine you are in the middle of all of this. and i truely feel sory for you that you can not trust a woman out of competition. Get with life babe. You have totaly deluded yourself of the Q theory to justify your position to further isolate yourself. it is very sad. I will let you know some facts, that over 20 years ago, Mike Q did not sponsor any woman with out the full intent of exploiting them and having sex with every single one of them. You can ask mike or his "leutenents" about his christmas picture - how all were sober - and ask him wich one he DID NOT have sex with. ever single woman he sponsored he had sex with, many of the women his girlfried sponsored, or his wife sponsored, he slept with - this is a fact - you can find some one that was around 20 years ago, and they will tell you the truth if they are worth their years in sobriety. So if you can delude yourself to beleive that sex is a normal act between a 17 year old and a 60 year old you may need some serious counsel.

and if a woman feels it nessisary to find solace in having sex with a man 3x her age - they have absolutely no business in AA - I think there are other avenues of recovery for them.

Posted by: exexex | August 1, 2007 10:11 PM

The Saturday Evening Post featured an article on AA by Jack Alexander on March 1st of 1941. The History of the article is printed below:

The History of How The Article Came To Be

Jack Alexander of SatEvePost Fame Thought A.A.s Were Pulling His Leg
AA Grapevine, May, 1945

Ordinarily, diabetes isn't rated as one of the hazards of reporting, but the Alcoholics Anonymous article in the Saturday Evening Post came close to costing me my liver, and maybe A.A. neophytes ought to be told this when they are handed copies of the article to read. It might impress them. In the course of my fact gathering, I drank enough Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, ginger ale, Moxie and Sweetie to float the Saratoga. Then there was the thickly frosted cake so beloved of A.A. gatherings, and the heavily sweetened coffee, and the candy. Nobody can tell me that alcoholism isn't due solely to an abnormal craving for sugar, not even a learned psychiatrist. Otherwise the A.A. assignment was a pleasure.

It began when the Post asked me to look into A.A. as a possible article subject. All I knew of alcoholism at the time was that, like most other non-alcoholics, I had had my hand bitten (and my nose punched) on numerous occasions by alcoholic pals to whom I had extended a hand--unwisely, it always seemed afterward. Anyway, I had an understandable skepticism about the whole business.

My first contact with actual A.A.s came when a group of four of them called at my apartment one afternoon. This session was pleasant, but it didn't help my skepticism any. Each one introduced himself as an alcoholic who had gone "dry," as the official expression has it. They were good-looking and well-dressed and, as we sat around drinking Coca-Cola (which was all they would take), they spun yarns about their horrendous drinking misadventures. The stories sounded spurious, and after the visitors had left, I had a strong suspicion that my leg was being pulled. They had behaved like a bunch of actors sent out by some Broadway casting agency.

Next morning I took the subway to the headquarters of Alcoholics Anonymous in downtown Manhattan, where I met Bill W. This Bill W. is a very disarming guy and an expert at indoctrinating the stranger into the psychology, psychiatry, physiology, pharmacology and folklore of alcoholism. He spent the good part of a couple of days telling me what it was all about. It was an interesting experience, but at the end of it my fingers were still crossed. He knew it, of course, without my saying it, and in the days that followed he took me to the homes of some of the A.A.s, where I got a chance to talk to the wives, too. My skepticism suffered a few minor scratches, but not enough to hurt. Then Bill shepherded me to a few A.A. meetings at a clubhouse somewhere in the West Twenties. Here were all manner of alcoholics, many of them, the nibblers at the fringe of the movement, still fragrant of liquor and needing a shave. Now I knew I was among a few genuine alcoholics anyway. The bearded, fume-breathing lads were A.A. skeptics, too, and now I had some company.

The week spent with Bill W. was a success from one standpoint. I knew I had the makings of a readable report but, unfortunately, I didn't quite believe in it and told Bill so. He asked why I didn't look in on the A.A.s in other cities and see what went on there. I agreed to do this, and we mapped out an itinerary. I went to Philadelphia first, and some of the local A.A.s took me to the psychopathic ward of Philadelphia General Hospital and showed me how they work on the alcoholic inmates. In that gloomy place, it was an impressive thing to see men who had bounced in and out of the ward themselves patiently jawing a man who was still haggard and shaking from a binge that wound up in the gutter.

Akron was the next stop. Bill met me there and promptly introduced me to Doc S., who is another hard man to disbelieve. There were more hospital visits, an A.A. meeting, and interviews with people who a year or two before were undergoing varying forms of the blind staggers. Now they seemed calm, well-spoken, steady-handed and prosperous, at least mildly prosperous.

Doc S. drove us both from Akron to Cleveland one night and the same pattern was repeated. The universality of alcoholism was more apparent here. In Akron it had been mostly factory workers. In Cleveland there were lawyers, accountants and other professional men, in addition to laborers. And again the same stories. The pattern was repeated also in Chicago, the only variation there being the presence at the meetings of a number of newspapermen. I had spent most of my working life on newspapers and I could really talk to these men. The real clincher, though, came in St. Louis, which is my hometown. Here I met a number of my own friends who were A.A.s, and the last remnants of skepticism vanished. Once rollicking rumpots, they were now sober. It didn't seem possible, but there it was.

When the article was published, the reader-mail was astonishing. Most of it came from desperate drinkers or their wives, or from mothers, fathers or interested friends. The letters were forwarded to the A.A. office in New York and from there were sent on to A.A. groups nearest the writers of the letters. I don't know exactly how many letters came in, all told, but the last time I checked, a year or so ago, it was around 6,000. They still trickle in from time to time, from people who have carried the article in their pockets all this time, or kept it in the bureau drawer under the handkerchief case intending to do something about it.

I guess the letters will keep coming in for years, and I hope they do, because now I know that every one of them springs from a mind, either of an alcoholic or of someone close to him, which is undergoing a type of hell that Dante would have gagged at. And I know, too, that this victim is on the way to recovery, if he really wants to recover. There is something very heartening about this, particularly in a world which has been struggling toward peace for centuries without ever achieving it for very long periods of time.

Jack Alexander
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Jack Alexander is a true investigative reporter. Jack took the time to find out the TRUTH, and got to witness the TRUTH with his own eyes, of course, this was a time when the TRUTH was important and had value. TRUTH sold newspapers. Today it is a different story. Mr. Marc Fisher has admittedly said he had written this story without attending one Midtown meeting (see his 7/26 Potomac CON Hour (or whatever) Blog. So, how can something like this happen? Mr. Marc Fisher is not an investigative reporter, he is a GOSSIP COLUMNIST. It also points to the sad and simple fact my friends - The TRUTH does not sell. What sells today is CONTROVERSY. All that Mr. Fisher has done is to further enable the TRUTH's decline in value, and has contributed to the rising value of CONTROVERSY, by writing about things that were not his direct accounts. And of course, Mr. Fisher wrote and quoted things in a context that supported his initial and biased theory, and thus the CONTROVERSY, going into the story.

What is even more amazing to me is that on the same Blog, Mr. Fisher indicates in his opinion what is wrong with AA "there is an old-fashioned sense of shame or stigma that lies behind the strong commitment to anonymity, but there's also a power in creating a social environment that allows people to express their anxieties and troubles openly. It can be a tricky line between creating a comforting and liberating social structure away from alcohol and cordoning people off from the rest of their social networks. Midtown appears to have gone too far in the latter direction."

According to Mr. Fisher, alky's should be encouraged to stop hiding behind the shame and stigma of being an alky - where does Mr. Fisher get the nerve to express an opinion like this? Is he a self imposed leader of a new movement aimed at freeing alkys from their social stigma? Mr. Fisher has zero experience of being an alcoholic and recovering from alcoholism, only theory. AA is based upon practical experience.

Yes, Mr. Fisher, it is almost certain that one of the by-products of your GOSSIP article, will be the deaths of untold and unknown hundreds and thousands of REAL alcoholics who, because of the GOSSIP you portray, would rather turn away from the light of AA to slip quietly into the fatal grasp of drunkenness and oblivion!

Posted by: ShakeNBake | August 1, 2007 11:02 PM

The CONTROVERSY has existed for decades...long before this article or the last one or the one before that.

What exactly is Mike Q's part in all of this?

You know, like it says in our literature....when all my relationships are in disarry, *I'm* the common denominator?

Do you think now might be a good time for him to realize that a pattern of older men sponsoring younger women MIGHT be causing some problems? Especially when those same older men COINCIDENTALLY like to involve themselves romantically with younger women.

Perhaps now would be a good time to take the advice of conference approved literature which recommends that we stick to same sex sponsorship.

Mike Q and Midtown are affecting AA as a whole. At least now have the humility to learn from it and apply those lessons. Rule 62 and all that.

I'd start looking at why you have so many "crazy, bitter, vengeful people" willing to discuss embarrasing things about themselves publically, just so they can exact some revenge against Mike and the group. Must be more coincidence, huh?

And the police investigations are coincidence. And the similarity of the stories from people who've never met, but all seem to have the same common thread.

If these stories were running in the Enquirer you might make a case for lies and all that. But Newsweek and The Post are credible and respected organizations around the world.

The world is taking your inventory, Mike Q and Midtown. It's hard to hear, I'm sure. But maybe it's time to stop defending, rationalizing, minimizing, and deflecting and start trying to hear some of what is being said.

Posted by: Jane D. | August 1, 2007 11:55 PM

Jane D., thanks for your perspective here. It seems to me that looking at this from any number of angles, these are clearly true stories. But always being skeptical myself, I verified the truth of these allegations by trying to check them out personally. It didn't take long to find people who had direct knowledge, both men who knew of it directly and women who had been hit very crudely and directly on by much older Midtown "sponsors".

This blog topic has kept going here and there are a lot of us members who want to see this come to an end. What do you think we can do to help end this? Because reason and logic and appeals to our program's ideals apparently have no effect whatsoever with these people.

Posted by: DCC | August 2, 2007 12:42 AM

Hugh McGee must be laughing in hell right now.

Posted by: jokr715 | August 2, 2007 1:29 AM

What can we do to end this?

That's a question I've been pondering on and off for over 10 yrs.

Just as I've heard certain clubs have ejected and banned people for wildly inappropriate behavior (taking phone lists and using them to stalk and harrass people, etc.), I think that it's time for NY to take a firm stand.

Giving a huge benefit of the doubt, there is obviously SOMETHING about this group that has resulted in them being placed on multiple cult watch lists, receiving unprecedented negative media coverage from mainstream and national press, carrying a dark cloud of suscipicion over them for years, spurring ongoing police investigation, caused local churches to deny them meeting space and local addiction professionals to denounce them. Did I forget anything?

The money issue hasn't even hit the light of day. Where are their group funds, exactly?

These are issues. Big issues. Aside from the criminal and immoral allegations of sexual impropreity and doling out irresponsible medical advice, you can not deny that this group has a TON of issues surrounding it.

Any other groups have these issues?

Are there ANY other AA groups out there currently under criminal investigation??

Or being spolighted for wrongdoing in the press?

These issues are making problems for AA as a whole. We let a group be right or wrong UNTIL they start to affect the whole.

The truth will come out. But, in the meantime, AA needs to STOP digging the hole, as it were. How many more issues need to surround ONE group before it becomes painfully obvious that there is something very, very wrong going on?

I think the groups who have come together on myspace and such are doing a wonderful job, and I think we need to support them and put pressure on NY to DO SOMETHING.

Posted by: Jane D. | August 2, 2007 6:58 AM

Jane D., You can email me at midtownfeedback@yahoo.com if you'd like to continue a discussion off a public forum. I have some thoughts.

Posted by: DCC | August 2, 2007 9:09 AM

Dear exexex,

Your comment about my posting shows that you truly do not belong in AA and that your place is with some right wing neo-conservatist group.

I never once mentioned Mike Q. in my posting, but this erratic woman witch hunter accused me of it, instead of just actually reading my posting. This is the kind of crap that needs to be cleaned out of AA. Self-righteous pious idiots like this that really belong in some small town church dispensing gossip about every woman she fears. Mike Q has nothing to do with men sponsoring women. He is just an isolated example. But of course, since the true motive of the Midtown Witch hunters is REVENGE, all logic and reason is thrown out the window in favor of loaded down language intended to scare everyone who hears it.

I quote from your posting, "if a woman feels it nessisary to find solace in having sex with a man 3x her age - they have absolutely no business in AA - I think there are other avenues of recovery for them."

What kind of freaking pious Nazi are you? This is a perfect example of what is wrong with AA. You have people like this telling others what they can and can't do. Exexex is some kind of AA rule maker who desparately trying to turn AA into the Christian church. A bastion of chastity and celibacy. AA is not that and never will be.

Of course like all the Midtown attackers she is making things up and lying on this board. No where in my posting do I say anything about Mike Q. All I said was that you're all jumping on a high horse declaring that men CAN NEVER sponsor women. This Midtown thing is going to turn AA into a really boring and unattractive place. I bet that's what happens.

This isn't about Mike Q anymore. It is about preserving AA the way it was intended by it's founders. This means no God Damn set of rules, and DEFINTIELY NO Goddamn Rulemakers and Lynchmobs like the one in DC.

Posted by: Cherry2000 | August 2, 2007 10:17 AM

Thank you XQ for your insightful post about the MG. I know first hand that much of what you posted is true as I was in the group around this time as well.

The onion metaphor is quite fitting and I hope it will help those on the outer layers of the MG comprehend that all is not as it seems at the hidden, pungent core.


Posted by: Opera Glass | August 2, 2007 10:24 AM

The purpose of all my postings was to provide some sort of vein of truth and reason against all of the deluded, resentful anger that is being expressed in this controversy. Somebody has to play the devil's advocate here. Anger and revenge has been the trump card here so far.

Anyone who has ever been in Midtown knows that there is some weird stuff that goes on there. But so be it. It is not unlawful. Women of consensual age are not the victims of casual sex either, no matter how hard they try to say they are. It's BS. No one was raped or anything close to it. My observation was that they were seeking status by sleeping with certain guys and getting in relationships with them. It was just like high school all over again. That is why I left. The same personality types playing the same games they played in high school. The girls there and the guys. That is why I hated my life there. It was the girls that perpetuated it more than anyone, not the guys.

I was in Midtown in the late 90's. I had my problems with this group. But this controversy is BS. Midtown has the right to run their group the way the want to. If you don't like it, get out. I did, and I stay far away from there because I know I have no friends there anymore. They're weird but we have no right to tell them how to run their group.

What is going on here is mob justice. We do not have the right to lynch this group no matter how much we feel it is justified. If someone has done something illegal, then press charges. If not, then leave them alone and warn others about them. Period.

You cannot call yourselves fair, especially you in the press like Marc Fisher, until you have fully weighed both sides of this controversy. Only those who have been in Midtown at one time or currently should be allowed to speak on this matter. Period.

I will end by saying what I said in my first posting. This controversy must be stopped immediately or AA will become ruined by it. If you do not stop it, you will continue to get people like me who would orinarily agree with you, but who will end up having to oppose you because we see these attacks against this group as a sickening example of resentful alcoholics at their worst. And it is. Please read this carefully before you start blabbering about Mike Q and manupulation and blah, blah, blah. I'm not defending Mike Q or manipulation. I am defending AA and the right of an AA group to be run the way they see fit. An AA group's right to be free from another group telling them they don't have the right to live with eachother, to date eachother, to go to the beach together, or even to be friends with eachother. Because that is exactly what you are doing here.

Posted by: Anon | August 2, 2007 10:59 AM

Anon, I don't think you are making a very strong case here for your point. I have not read every post but have read most of them. I don't see that anyone has said that members should not go to the beach together, be friends, date each other or live together. No one reasonable person would say that and they are not the basis for issues surrounding Midtown. They are not why Midtown has been written about in Newsweek magazine, in the Washington Post, or on Fox News, ABC News, United Press International, and other major news organizations. They are not why the police are investigating Midtown. They are not why churches have kicked Midtown out of their facilities. They are not why AA members outside Midtown are concerned.

This is a reasonable discussion and we live in a society that has free speech. If AA is harmed by anything, it is by the behavior of Midtown "leaders" and some members themselves.

But the nationwide and worldwide AA program is not at risk. Our community is strong and resourceful, held together not with rules and regulations but by principles of integrity and honesty, by our twelve traditions, by the twelve steps we all go through and by the the responsibility statement that we all agree to:

"When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible."

There is no tradition or any other guidance which says AA members should stand by and watch people who go to it for help be damaged by an outlaw group. In fact our fourth tradition states that "Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole."

Clearly, credible changes of sexual predation and the disregard of approved guidance on how an AA group should be run, such as when older men routinely sponsor young women and have sex with them as a stated part of their sponsorship, need to be investigated as they would constitute harm to AA as a whole. Clearly, charges of twisting the terms "selfless" and "service work" to include sex with sponsors needs to be investigated and would constitute harm to AA. Clearly the many investigations by worldwide media and local law enforcement constitute harm to AA as a whole. And just as clearly, by our fourth tradition and our responsibility statement, members from other groups have a right, and a personal responsibility, to follow up this situation, learn all the facts, and assure corrective action where required.

As far as Marc Fisher goes, I think he wrote an excellent, well-researched and balanced story. He gave the other side's responses.

Let me end by reminding you that our eighth step says "Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became ready to make amends to them all." It does not say "Made a list of all persons we had harmed and thought, forget it, I'll promise myself not to harm them again."

Posted by: DCC | August 2, 2007 12:15 PM

Anon, I don't think you are making a very strong case here for your point. I have not read every post but have read most of them. I don't see that anyone has said that members should not go to the beach together, be friends, date each other or live together. No one reasonable person would say that and that is not the basis for issues surrounding Midtown. It is not why Midtown has been written about in Newsweek magazine, in the Washington Post, or reported on by Fox News, ABC News, United Press International, and other major news organizations. It is not why the police are investigating Midtown. It is not why churches have kicked Midtown out of their facilities.

This is a reasonable discussion and we live in a society that has free speech. If AA is harmed by anything, it is by the behavior of Midtown "leaders" and some members themselves. The whole world now knows of this controversy and the only way AA could end up being harmed by it is if AA members now do nothing to investigate and resolve this situation. AA has helped millions of people live sober lives and the public will not hold the behavior of one group against us as long as we follow up and take necessary steps now.

The nationwide and worldwide AA community is strong and resourceful, held together not with rules and regulations but by principles of integrity and honesty, by our twelve traditions, by the twelve steps we all go through, and by the the responsibility statement that we all agree to:

"When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible."

There is no tradition or any other guidance which says AA members should stand by and watch people who go to it for help be damaged by an outlaw group. In fact our fourth tradition states that "Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole."

Clearly, credible changes of sexual predation and the disregard of approved guidance on how an AA group should be run, such as when older men routinely sponsor young women and have sex with them as a stated part of their sponsorship, need to be investigated as they would constitute harm to AA as a whole. Clearly, credible charges of twisting the terms "selfless" and "service work" to include sex with sponsors need to be investigated and would constitute harm to AA. Clearly the many investigations by worldwide media and local law enforcement constitute harm to AA as a whole. And just as clearly, by our fourth tradition and our responsibility statement, members from other groups have a right, and a personal responsibility, to follow up this situation, learn all the facts, and assure corrective action where required.

As far as Marc Fisher goes, I think he wrote an excellent, well-researched and balanced story. He gave the other side's responses.

Let me end by reminding you that our eighth step says "Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became ready to make amends to them all." It does not say "Made a list of all persons we had harmed and thought, forget it, I'll try not to do that again."

Posted by: DCC | August 2, 2007 12:26 PM

Anon, I think we are all behind groups being run the way they see fit. But there is a big caveat in that 4th Tradition:

'...we found it necessary to post only two storm signals: A group ought not do anything which would greatly injure A.A. as a whole, nor ought it affiliate itself with anything or anybody else. There would be real danger should we commence to call some groups "wet," others "dry," still others "Republican" or "Communist," and yet others "Catholic" or "Protestant." '

I think it can be argued that before any of us weighed in on this controversy in a public arena, that for whatever reason, the Mid-town/Q Group (the naming of which, in and of itself, seems to violate the second half of that affiliation clause), had a bit of hornet's nest of controversy around itself.

When an AA group finds itself the subject of ongoing police investigations and on several cult watch lists at the local and national level, they have given up their right to be free. They have started to affect the name of AA as a whole.

That they are not taking this situation as an opportunity for humility and growth and working toward "our common welfare" speaks volumes to me.

If this group is simply the subject of a witch hunt, then surely that will come out in the wash.

In the meantime, perhaps they should be asking for help and input from other groups, or AA as a whole, on how they can discern what THEIR part is, and what (if anything) they could do at this juncture to move toward our common welfare and remove ANY associations of "AA" with "cult" and "criminals" and "predators" and "victims."

Instead, it seems like a lot of our old using friends: rationalization, denial, minimizing, and finger-pointing seem to be called into action.

They told me in AA that when I'm using those mechanisms 99% of the time I'm "guilty as charged."

I think the "public" part of this "controversy" is imperative at this time. The can is open and there are worms everywhere. Should we AAs remain silent when we know what's going on? I can only imagine that that would further interfere with our common welfare as "the rest of the world" would view us in a worse light--as those who not only commit immoral and perhaps illegal acts, but as a group who covers up for those people! I, for one, will not be guilty by association with the things that I know about Midtown (and I've been there, and I know people personally thankyouverymuch).

No harm can come from bringing issues into the light of day and scrutinizing them. Either they will fit into our collective moral compass and program of AA, or it will be obvious that there is work to do. We should not be afraid of this inventory! Isn't that the message of our literature?

Anon, defend or oppose whomever you wish. But, none of us can make you do either. I appreciate your contribution and insight in this discussion--however you choose to frame it! :)

DCC, let's discuss on the syddv board, if that's just the same to you. :)

Peace and love,
Jane Doe

Posted by: Jane D. | August 2, 2007 12:40 PM

Jane, that's what I was going to discuss anyway. :-)

Posted by: DCC | August 2, 2007 12:51 PM

DCC, my case is alot stronger than yours, for the main reason that you are assuming guilt of the people in this group and those directly accused without doing any real investigation at all. In order to do an investigation you need to cross-examine your testimony, which in this case is merely heresay so far. But it has never been expressed on this board that an investigation is what is needed. What has been expressed is that the Midtown group should be banned from AA, kicked out of their churches, and never be allowed to meet again. That's not an investigation, that's a lynching.

Second, Midtown is not an outlaw group. These news stories have made them that way. Before the news stories were CREATED, they were just an AA group that many did not like. They were kicked out of there churches because of a news story that came out which was based on unsubstantiated facts. It was heresay, gossip. In fact, that statement realeased by the two churches who threw them out was that they "were unable to determine the validity of the accusations" but thought it best to ask the group to leave to avoid any unneeded controversy. Also, Newsweek is not as credible a media as you think.

This is all loaded terminology and language you are using. Older men sponsoring women and having sex with them. Which older men? So far Mike Q, right? Alright which others? Ummm, hmmm. Which others? None. Okay, so now we have one older man reportedly sponsoring women between 1987 & 2000 and having sex with a few of them. So your generalizing use of the terms "older men" & "all of Midtown" is not really correct is it? It is a hasty generalization and a fallacy of composition.

"Credible charges of sexual predation and the disregard of approved guidance on how an AA group should be run, ..." Okay so this is a bunch of BS and is clearly subjective. What someone considers sexual predation, another would consider flirting and vice-versa. There's no such crime where someone is the victim of consensual sex. Doesn't exist, no such crime. Think about what you're saying here. Everyone who supposedly had sex was doing so consensually. Period. You're using this way too much. I've been preyed upon too. I rather enjoyed it, subjectively of course. I'm sure someone else thought it predatory. Their opinion, subjective. I'm sure years later, I could say, "hey wait a minute that was a total set up!" But I could never say I was raped because it didn't happen.

As far as "the way an AA group should be run", no there is no crime there either. There are suggestions but no rules, period. Everyone knows this and it is ludicrous to even attempt to say otherwise. But everyone is doing it aren't they. Midtown is not run correctly. Not true. No such thing as mandatory rules for AA groups. Doesn't exist. You're making it up. DOES NOT EXIST.

This is what I am protesting. DC lynchmob trying to set a precedent in AA on the 'Rules for How to Run an AA Group'. GSO will never agree with you no matter how press you bring. AA doesn't work that way for a reason.

Posted by: Anon | August 2, 2007 1:16 PM

Listen, I feel like I'm talking to people who aren't going to admit they have no solid case no matter how much logic or argument I use. I hope this thing ends up in some kind of court because then you will see that it is all heresay and gossip, and that the individuals proporting this controversy have very little credibility. In court, you would be torn to shreds because the law hasn't been broken here. Not at all. People are upset, understandable, but this is America. We have the right to assemble, write crazy twisted half-truth news stories (obviously), petitition, form religions (even cults), bear arms (or arm bears, your choice), and many others.

Midtown will not welcome you with open arms as their saviors because you are so hostile in your pursuit to do harm to them as a whole. If you were smart, you would've went after the individuals you were mad at and left the rest of them alone. But you motive is clear by what is written on your blogs and myspace profiles. You want to bring Midtown down. You have only created more hostility.

Think on my words. I'm outta here.

Posted by: Anon | August 2, 2007 1:28 PM

Anon, the case is what it is.

There is a huge cloud of suscipicion around this group. Has been for years. For whatever reason. It's there.

There have been several very negative stories in the local and national press. Fabricated, hearsay, gossip, right or wrong....it's out there now. Negative stories linking AA and some really nasty charges.

There are police investigations. Matter of public record, I'm sure.

Listings on several cult watch lists. They are there in black and white.

I'm not making up any of this.

There's no case for ME to build. It's already there.

The negative effects of these facts, ALONE, on AA, as a whole, seem evident to me and many others.

And if it were not for the fact that many of the people in Midtown were/are LEGAL MINORS I'm sure people would be far less concerned.

Minors can not legally "consent" to the same things legal adults can.

Posted by: Jane D. | August 2, 2007 1:55 PM

If I, a regular AA member in Northern VA, can ask a random handful of people and find several trustworthy people who have direct, personal experience with and knowledge of the Midtown practices described above, then I find it hard to believe that this is all smoke. (And I did just that.)

If the Washington Post and Newsweek can investigate thoroughly and are willing to publish detailed allegations about Midtown's practices, as they did, I find that pretty credible.

If a criminal investigation is ongoing, I find that worrisome. When churches investigate and kick Midtown out, I find that disturbing. Especially when Midtown "leaders" " "refused to give [the pastor] an explanation of the allegations against them."

Whether or actual laws have been broken -- and it is far from clear that they have not -- there is sufficient reason to be highly concerned about Midtown. It's not sufficient for several Midtown members, who may or may not know everything that's going on, simply to dismiss these allegations and events as unfounded speculation. Members of AA want to know what's happened and we want a clean program and a program with zero tolerance for sexual abuse.

Posted by: DCC | August 2, 2007 1:57 PM

I understand. Underage sex is illegal. If there is such a case, then prosecute. But there isn't one. Everybody is assuming that there is when there is none. As far as the other things, they are highly judgemental. People having sex with eachother, sponsors of opposite sex having sex with their sponsees. So what. It's not rape, robbery or murder. People are sensitive and feelings are hurt. Yes, they are, so what. Feelings are subjective. Feelings shouldn't be the subject of national headlines. But they are. Why? Read my earlier posts. The reason is because these stories fabricated by the Concerned Friends Group to Nick Summers of Newsweek, a long time friend of CFG member David A. The Newsweek story was created so that people against Midtown could say with assurance, "See, they're in Newsweek , that's how we know it's all true. Newsweek wouldn't print it if it weren't true." Yet all the while they are the ones who created it and fabricated into a story in the first place. Open your eyes! Are the stories in the articles true? To some degree they are...half truths. But what's most important here is that the stories are entirely the subjective account of people with a history of drug abuse, stealing and drinking.

The police don't investigate in perpetuity. If they have something, they move in and make an arrest. So far they have nothing, no arrests have been made. I seriously doubt there is much of an investigation going on, really now. I know cops and detectives. They've got better fish to fry than this, especially considering there are no laws being broken.

Everyone needs to check their motives. How do you even know this stuff is going on currently in Midtown right now? You don't. It's easy to talk about the past. Produce one person, one underage girl who says that she has been abused or is currently being abused. You can't because no such person exists.

Until you can, it really is all gossip. Gossip about the past.

Posted by: Anon | August 2, 2007 2:42 PM

Anon, I have a question...have you used the past aliase "onegoodlookinthemirror" You are so busy hiding that you couldn't possibly know the truth if it bit you. Deny, deny if you choose, it won't ever change what happened to the people who have found the courage to speak. There is no conspiracy...only brave, scared, manipulated human beings who just wanted to feel a part of something special. How dare you invalidate them. How does that "sand" taste??

Posted by: curious | August 2, 2007 3:46 PM

Anon said:

"But what's most important here is that the stories are entirely the subjective account of people with a history of drug abuse, stealing and drinking."

To be fair, the defenses are too.

And if you could show me where the Midtown group is doing ANYTHING to rectify ANY of these "HALF" truths, which again, are *negatively* impacting AA as a whole, I'd be very interested.

The fact that there is more than one allegation of an underage girl being pressured to have sex with an older male is enough of an issue for me for me to feel that AA, as a whole, is being negatively affected by ONE group who openly and routinely has older males sponsoring younger women.

And that that practice isn't being denounced by that group as a huge mistake after all of this brouhaha makes me very suspicious and worried.

Know why no underage boys can even *reasonably* accuse me of taking advantage of my sponsorship position with them?

Because I don't sponsor them! I haven't had them in my home! I don't go on vacations with them! I have, in NO WAY, left myself vulnerable to ANY sort of speculation, attack, or charges.

Mike and his boys have been warned over and over again by folks in AA. They took their chances and now its biting them in the behinds. And the rest of us, too.

It looks REALLY bad.

Whether or not it IS that bad, is another story. (And one that will surely come out eventually.)

But the fact that it even LOOKS this bad is enough "evidence" to say that the Fourth Tradition has been violated.

And that no Ninth Step amends is coming from Midtown makes it look even worse.


Posted by: Jane D. | August 2, 2007 4:58 PM

Well.. Midtown is the sober latenightshots crowd. Plain and simple, it seems like invite only once you've been there for a while. Flip flops and Nordstrom clothes included. It has helped people but it doesn't represent AA fully in all it's glory and traditions. It's more of a social network for people to stop using drugs and alcohol and to stay stuck in development then if they're smart they will move on.
The reason why AA from NY doesn't make comments is because groups like these (oxford, washingtonian) usually die out on their own. That's why the traditions are in place. The group doesn't follow the AA traditions, it will die off.. this is probably how it's going to start. Good riddance.. Chris P call me up sometime buddy.. you were cool.
Peace.

Posted by: dondi207 | August 2, 2007 5:14 PM

Anon, the simple fact is that the article in the Wash Post around which these replies are centered said exactly the fact you stated: the police do not yet have testimony from any female who admits having had sex in with a Midtown leader when she was 15 or younger. Perhaps this article and public discussion will help a young woman or women to come forward with this undoubtedly embarrassing admission, and perhaps not. This is the central point in your post, and I imagine this possibility is something going through the minds of some Midtown leaders right now, because of course it would likely constitute a crime punishable by jail.

However, the discussion here about Midtown is far broader. AA members are interested in whether Midtown is a rogue group operating in total disregard of the AA traditions and principles. The evidence is strong that AA principles have been seriously violated and that sexual predation has occurred. Any reasonable and fair-minded person reading the voluminous posts above would likely conclude that this possibility warrants a serious and thorough inquiry. Statements from many independent sources match along many facets.

Your refutation appears to be that disgruntled former members magically created a story in Newsweek, and apparently this somehow led automatically to the inquiry by the Wash Post who published a much more detailed story, and news stories by Fox News, ABC News, NBC News, UPI, Forbes and others.

Well, just to repeat, I have over 20 years in the program, don't know anyone in Midtown to my knowledge, which is anyway outside my local area, and just by talking to a small number of members more or less at random, found trustworthy members who a) had no knowledge of either the Newsweek story or the Wash Post story or any other news report and b) had personal, direct experience of some of the abusive techniques described above. So now I guess you'll say to me: OK, these things happened from the 1980s to last winter, but according to the perpetrators they have stopped. I don't want to repeat why this seems to me wholly lacking in credibility and what little confidence this would impart to members. You can read this above.

So then you say: but these charges were made by those who abused alcohol or drugs and have told lies. Let's assume that everyone knows that all members of AA have abused alcohol or drugs. As far as "lying" goes, that's just mud slinging.

Are the statements just subjective, as you claim? Well, when I heard (as I did) a woman I've known for years and trust that the man she was told was her sponsor, approximately triple her age, tried to use this relationship of trust to pressure her into having sex with him, I'd say that this was an objective statement. I'd say that when a woman tells me she went as an invited guest to a pool party at a Midtown "leader"'s home and the guests were middle aged men and teenaged girls and they were all nude, that is not a subjective account. I'd also say that when you write "people are sensitive and feelings are hurt" and that this is just "gossip...gossip about the past" in regard to these exploitive experiences you are denying and minimizing and compounding what was a humiliating and devastating experience for many women, and one that surely is still keeping many of them from recovery and a satisfying life.

So now what do you say?

Posted by: DCC | August 2, 2007 5:16 PM

Many former midtowners are close with a young woman, now 20, who slept with Mike Q when she was 15. We persuaded her to tell this to ABC (anonymously) in May, and here's the link to the story:

http://dynamic.wjla.com/watchvideo.hrb?s=wjla&id=2195

She remained anonymous and has not pressed charges because of a deep sense of shame and because she felt that her high-profile parents would "kill her."

We have her full name and cell phone number, but we have always respected her wishes for privacy. We also know a woman who was sponsored by Mike Q at the time that the statutory rape took place. The former sponsee will corroborate the young woman's statement, if she ever gets the courage to press charges.

Posted by: David | August 2, 2007 5:37 PM

Actually, I'm not so sure I care that much. I was just trying to get a healthy debate going. And I did. I'm not affiliated with either of you so like, whatever.

You're still hurting AA with all this. I'm not as gullible as you to label a whole group of 250+ people responsible for what 2or3 individuals did some 7+ years ago. You keep saying Midtown, over and over again. Why don't all of you go to the meeting and publicly accuse every single member of all this the way you're doing so on this board.

Some guy at Westside was found out to be a pedophile a few years ago. Does that make me a pedophile because I was at the same meetings as him? According to you it does. Maybe we should take a look at some of the people in your meetings, if we find anyone at all to be a criminal there, we should press charges against you. Right?


Posted by: Anon | August 2, 2007 5:44 PM

I would also like to say that there are some AMAZING things that I think Midtown does very, very well.

The social events, the travel, the FUN that they provide for young people in AA ought to be a model of action for all of us.

The service work that this group does could be a phenomenal model for other groups. Esp. reaching out to the newcomer.

And although I believe they carry a different message than AA's, they are committed and active in this, like few I've seen.

These positives are there. And probably comprise the majority of MOST member's contributions to that group.

No matter what happens, I would like to commend them for these positives and encourage all of us to consider how we can bring these assets to our groups and AA as a whole.

Posted by: Jane D. | August 2, 2007 5:49 PM

Well, Anon, I'm not sure who you're talking to but I have certainly never accused every person at Midtown of this behavior. However, I've heard enough that I believe that many people were involved, far more than 2 or 3, and that a lot of things were common knowledge, even if the worst of it was not. I don't think some of what you say here you're serious about but this subject can get emotional. So good luck, seriously.

Posted by: DCC | August 2, 2007 5:54 PM

Dearest Cherry2000 or Anti Post Bloggers,
Well you certainly have made your point. Me, I AM NOT in AA, nor am I a right wing conservatist PIOUS nazi as you so well put. Im actually one of the nicest people you may ever meet. I am not a Christian nor am I out for revenge. So your certain stance on this issue, only requires pitty.
AA as an entirety has its place for alcoholics, not for nerotic, insecure, got in trouble once, teen whos family , shrink, friend places them in the care of AA as a fix all, to all problems. AA is for Alcoholics! PERIOD. for those in AA that think is is a recovery program for all ills are sorely mistaken. They are not medical professionals. They are alcoholics helping other alcoholics - they are not for the neurotics, just insecure, need a friend, dating service. Or worse those in need of psyciatric medical care.


For a young girl (alcoholic or not) to be preyed upon by a man 3x her elder or even 2x is unaceptable - and I certainly feel sory for you that you have not found a woman that you dont have to compete with to get the attention that you so obviously need.

As for the article - it was a clear and benine report on ONE AA group. NOT AA as an entirety. For those that are defensive about this in AA, RELAX, if you are not guilty of sex abuse, money laundering, or any other abuse - NO WORRIES- the ones that express hatred to those that have spoken out as a victim, or other wise, really need to examine the motive or the participation in exploitation. And ask your self why is it that every time a victim comes forward it must be the "victims" fault - and may be that is why so so many others have not come forward, nor do the multiple people that I know personally do not come forward for fear of TOTAL PUBLIC HUMILIATION. Who the hell wants that - even if it does put the sob in jail?????

I do beleive the PUBLIC is well aware that AA is a great place for ALCOHOLICS, Heck, even Congress is aware! they have meetings on Capitol Hill.

Hollywood has given AA great publicity thru the years. There seems to be a "Cool" stigma attached to be associated with AA or have been "RE-HABED" ---- So what the press has done with this awareness is simply making people aware that vulnerabilities exist beyond the catholic church and in our main stream of scociety. Just because some one is sober DOES NOT MAKE THEM SAINE PRODUCTIVE MEMBERS OF SCOCIETY!
- life goes on - this article has brought the Ills of one particular group to light that has so needed the attention or inlightenment that it has needed for years and years.

Posted by: exexex | August 2, 2007 10:22 PM

exexex, thanks for your views from a non-AA member here. This is an important perspective and one that we members probably often forget about. For being a non member, you have a great deal of insight into us and it's good to read.

Posted by: DCC | August 2, 2007 10:40 PM

Im back....you MT members dont give up do you?....By the way did you turn in your $100 this week for your mandatory Costa Rica trip? Care to comment? AND FOR THAT GUY WHO TYPES WITH CAPS LOCK ON.....YOU ARE ANNOYING. Im done with this blog, it just makes me angry thinking about Midtown. Id feel better not thinking about it but Id feel even better if the group didnt exist, lets oust these bamas. Peace

Posted by: P $ Young AA in VA | August 3, 2007 4:44 AM

I commented earlier on this topic. I said good riddance to the midtown group. I really don't know if I feel that strongly about it. I went to the meetings for a while and I did receive a lot of help. Some of the people were really great and I was made to feel "a part of" I stopped going because I had been exposed to AA previously.. This group just wasn't for me, I had other interests and wanted to be more independent. They've helped a lot of people.. I don't have an opinion.

Posted by: dondi207 | August 3, 2007 9:13 AM


To Anon- if you feel so upset about what people are saying and don't believe the "allegations" my question to you is this- are you a young person in AA? When did you join Midtown? How Long have you been in it? Check out your sponsorship tree- I bet Mike Q is the start of it. We ALL know the heirarchy in Midtown exists- the scary thing is that they have married and are reproducing now- Bridgette and Brian, Beth and Arno, Barbara and Isaac. The group is very demeaning towards women. There is no reason for a male a couple years older than a woman to sponsor that woman. I don't see women sponsoring men in there? Why is that????

The deal is this: The heirarchy of men besides Mike Q- Frank B, Jake E, John G, and Joe S have taken advantage of young women. Oh, I forgot Mike P, should I go on????

Ask Kathleen/ Jack E or her mom about underage sex and how about supporting a sponsor's lifestyle- yes, Mike Q- did I miss something or Mike Q above employment like the rest of us.. oh, wait, they are in the group, so of course they will say it didn't happen.

It is unfortunate that I actually have to provide some actual names- but am so sick of Bloggers like Anon and Cherri saying "these are just allegations".

The reason that this is so controversial is that the heirarchy in Midtown has used AA for their own good and have misrepresented the name of AA.The legal term for this is Slander.
Why don't you show us the books for how much money is collected at meetings vs how much is actually given to NY, churches, and outside of Midtown to AA.


I wonder why that you feel you have the right to attack those of us who actually witnessed all of these "allegations".

Why should any of us believe you? You don't appear to have much objectivity about this, especially if you are in the group.

By the way, the FACT that many of the group have shared their "pigeons" 4th Steps with others in the group is appalling. Talk about Gossip...

Prove to us that none of these allegations are true--- Go for it.

We are not saying that all of the group is like this, but let's face it, those in control- the heirarchy- have created the controversy and have continued to give Midtown the bad name that it has.---- Take your issues up with them.- like with some of those listed above.

So, take the challenge- confront the heirarchy if you don't believe it, otherwise, enough of your denial....

oh, by the way, I haven't heard a word about the spiritual deeds of Midtown, the importance of the steps, and the traditions- That is the Program of AA.
It's easy to do fellowship, spirituality is a whole higher level.
If you feel you have an honest relationship with your HP, then you have nothing to defend.

All I have to say is what goes around comes around. The heirarchy is just pissed that the truth has come out to the public and now their "pigeons" are stuck trying to defend them. Sounds like someone or several people in Midtown Heirarchy owe the rest of the group amends ----

Posted by: out of Dc, out of midtown | August 3, 2007 10:05 PM

I am an AA member who has dealt with people in this group for the past 6 years.

LOOK UP THE DEFINITION OF CULT- A COHESIVE SOCIAL GROUP DEVOTED TO BELEIFS OR PRACTICES THAT SOUROUNDING COULTURE CONSIDERS OUTSIDE THE MAIN STREAM.

Now if that doesen't describe the midtown group what does. I have personally been in contact and have meet many of the people in the group, and it is not my opinion but i beleive fact that the midtown group is far from an AA group but more of a negative cult group. I think after hearing of summer house properties purchased and people being on payroll in midtown anyone involved with this group should be subject to any penalty of law that they may be charged with in the near future. By being apart of there group, by attending there meetings, and confrences and by donating money to this group after all that has been revealed about them you are not displaying sober behavior nor in my opinion being a lawful citizen I think any person condoning and supporting this group in any way is an accesory to the crimes they may commit because you are the people that are making it possible.

Now dont get me wrong I don't beleive all the people in the group should be black balled but the group as a whole should be. I'm sure there are many people in the group that are good harted people that really want the sober life the book talks about, these are the people as fellow AA members have to be there to support. Thats what we are taught. Key word is to support not direct nor control.

It is absolutly rediculous when they speek of the fact that they have helped more alcholics then any other group in the DC area.

HOW ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE HARMED MORE ALCHOLICS THAN ANY OTHER GROUP IN THE DC AREA MORE THEN ALL GROUPS IN THE DC AREA COMBINED.

I have to stop writting at this point because the more I write the angry and sicker I feel about this group of people.

Please to the editors of the post I ask you to Post a story explaning the ramifications of this groups supporters actions and also to let any of the good people in this group no there is a better way of life.

Thank you for letting me write my piece.

signed a sober member of the maryland community

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2007 1:54 PM

I want to draw attention to one of the tactics that the watchdogs of the Q group inner circle use to keep people from speaking out against it. It's a tactic that a lot of people in A.A. as a whole buy into. I will simply re-post what a couple of people have said on this blog:

Posted by: Anon | July 31, 2007 02:31 PM

HOW WILL YOU FEEL AFTER YOU HAVE DESTROYED AA AS A WHOLE WITH YOUR PERSONAL GRUDGES TOWARDS ONE GROUP?

...and then...

Posted by: Jeff S. | July 31, 2007 04:10 PM

But honestly, wouldn't everyone be better off, including them, if they had not gone public with it? I mean this might just be me, but personally, if a few girls are encouraged to have sex at a slightly young age and the result is that hundreds of other young people stay sober -- is that the end of the world?!?!?!

...and then...

Posted by: ShakeNBake | August 1, 2007 11:02 PM

Yes, Mr. Fisher, it is almost certain that one of the by-products of your GOSSIP article, will be the deaths of untold and unknown hundreds and thousands of REAL alcoholics who, because of the GOSSIP you portray, would rather turn away from the light of AA to slip quietly into the fatal grasp of drunkenness and oblivion!

........................................

This is like saying that speaking out against one doctor who makes passes at patients is dangerous to the medical profession as a whole--or that drawing attention to the harm he does fails to take into considerations all the lives he has saved. He would still lose his license, whether he had saved lives or not.

A police officer who tells female motorists that they can get out of a speeding ticket by sleeping with him will still be fired and go to jail. Would you make the argument to keep that quiet so that cops everywhere aren't given a bad name? Would you want to keep him on the force because, aside from a little sexual coercion, he's really good at his job?

As for those who ask why people are not just limiting their negative comments to the supposed one (or few) individuals who did something wrong: they COULD NEVER have done it on their own. They used other group members, at times very large numbers of them, to intimidate complainants into silence and conformity. Without the group's support, the few individuals couldn't do what they do.

If you're a member of that group and you want to know how you can find out if anything shady is going on because you DON'T endorse it and are tired of having your whole group's name dragged through the mud, here's what you can do:

Look into the FINANCES of the group:

If you went to the A.A. World Conference or any other conference with that group, ask to see all financial records of it and correspondence between the group and the hotels. Call the hotels and say that your reservation was booked for you, and you want an accounting of how your money was spent. Find out how much the deposit was--and if it was returned. If the deposit was returned, did you get some money back? Why not?

This is YOUR money, you have a right to know where it went.

If the group leaders have nothing to hide, they will gladly show you all financial records--which will then match what the hotel says about how much they charged and what amount was refunded.

If, instead, they get defensive and hostile, then you'll know you've been cheated. If they smile and give you an answer that really doesn't answer anything--ask again to see the financial records and all correspondence between the group and the hotels.

You probably didn't even know that the hotels refunded deposits, did you?

Start asking questions about why there are members of the group hierarchy who lead a lifestyle that cannot be justified by their income (if they, in fact, even have jobs).

Do this, and I PROMISE you that you'll really see some teeth bared. Be prepared to be called some awful names, or to be reminded of what you were like "before the group saved your ass."

I was one of a very large group of people from WITHIN the group that once tried to change it. I and many others kept going to meetings even after we were ostracized to show that disagreeing with Mike didn't mean loss of sobriety. Here's what happened:

We were prevented from participating in group consciences (with the support of Victor B.--thanks Victor, you're a mensch).

We were removed from the group's "sponsorship" list--which is also the group's membership list.

The meetings that were held in private residences were relocated to undisclosed locations so that we couldn't attend.

We were not allowed to sign up as speakers at the main Sunday meeting.

We were not called on to share during discussion meetings that were still listed in the Where and When (they couldn't kick us out of those, but they could refuse to call on us).

We were shared AT by Jack and Arno and Brigitte and Beth et al in EVERY meeting.

We were called toxic and newer group members were given sponsor direction to avoid us.

Did I mention that one of my friends was run off of I-66 by two members (Noah and Mandy)? Mike didn't do that himself...

Almost all of the women were broken up with by their boyfriends.

I was approached--secretly--by one girl who said she was really worried for me because she had been told that my sponsor was using drugs and prostituting herself. Well, so much for showing that dissent does not equal loss of sobriety. It didn't matter that we were all still sober--nobody else in the group believed it. They somehow were able to believe that we all went to our jobs or our classes, attended group meetings almost every night of the week, and still found time for drug use and prostitution. Yeah.

There have always been members of that group who don't agree with things that go on there. There have been at least two massive splits that I know of. What there never has been--successful reform.

Posted by: XQ | August 4, 2007 4:12 PM


I am a member of AA and have been sober and active in the program for over twenty years. Thank you for putting the spotlight on the non AA cult Midtown. It has helped us in northern New Jersey connect the dots between a local spin off "the Sponsorship Group" of Chatham Township NJ and Midtown. The leaders practice the same deplorable behavior described in your article and in fact are connected to the Midtown Group and exchange speakers with each other etc..The leader of the Sponsorship Group is sponsored by Clancy.
Finally individual groups and many rehabs in the area have chosen not to continue allowing them to speak (recruit).
Keep up the good work, as we say in AA, "You're only as sick as you secrets"

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2007 8:46 PM

I keep looking for any discussion of a solution for how to fix/replace/renew a meeting that has been an incredible part of so many people's recovery. Or, at least, a discussion of how we can all help keep it from happening anymore. It seems that we are still stuck in what to do about those who have been abusing a power they should never have.

I've been increasingly distanced from the people at Midtown over the years but I still like the place, the volume and the total sobriety. Can we keep this in mind as we talk about next steps? I want a big Sunday night meeting that is safe AND cool for newcomers (especially young ones) to experience. This should be part of our concern.

Part of me wants to think that the publicity has done enough to stop all the wrong-doing and those guilty will stop. At the same time I would hate to become an enabler for the behavior due to my own desire to stop thinking about it. I'll keep thinking about it. Can the rest of you spend some time thinking about how to save Midtown the AA meeting and less on how dismantle or defend the Q group? Thanks!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2007 11:49 PM

(blank) - as you haven't given any identifier, even Anon, I did write about this above. A lot of allegations have surfaced since then but my thoughts are basically the same. I'm pressed for time and this discussion has played out anyway, but here are a few thoughts.

It seems quite apparent that Midtown is deeply flawed. The big Sunday night meeting, which I attended several times in the 80s (and got my two year chip), was, I wrote above, welcoming and boisterous, but I didn't see the depth of a real program and I also felt an undercurrent that made me leery of the group. But many, many people feeling lonely and needing help will be drawn in to this meeting and enter Midtown that way. (As described in the "cult watch" web sites on which Midtown is listed, this is the purpose of a big, boisterous meeting.)

As XQ (I believe) wrote above, Midtown is like an onion, real control emanating from the center, out thru the "leadership hierarchy" layer, then out to the outer layers where members know less and less about the real goings on, although they certainly may feel their influence as they being more involved - enmeshed - in the group.

I won't repeat the allegations as they have been made above many times. But to the extent that the inner layers are profiting greatly from the current setup, the currently organized group is unlikely to just go away.

It's also clear from the above posts that a number of members are in rabid denial about these allegations. Unfortunately, the Washington Post has removed many of these hostile posts as abusive, preventing a disinterested viewer from observing just how abusive the group members can be to those making even the mildest criticism.

So - terrible self abusive behavior, chaos and unmanageability, fierce denial - anything sounds familiar? Does any solution come to mind?

How about our own program here? Specifically the twelve steps. They work for a sick organization just as they did for us.

Posted by: DCC | August 5, 2007 9:32 AM

Where in the Big Book does it say to get a sponsor?
Where in the steps does it say to get a sponsor?
Where in the Traditions of A.A. does it say to get a sponsor?
IT DOESENT! The outside sponsor system S.S is self promoting using fear, and ones own lack of discipline to promote the S.S. I have seen more people die leaning on a the system for guidance and protection and the ones that follow A.A's message that God could and would if sought get a reprieve - People places and things will easily divert us and the outside sponsorship craze has.
A.A.'S FELLOWSHIP IS A "SIMPLE SUGGESTED PROGRAM" THE SPONSORSHIP SYSTEM. S.S. HAS TURNED INTO A "PROGRAM OF SUGGESTIONS" A FOLLOW-SHIP.
Today Bill .W is turning over in his grave
Insanity of an alcoholic- The effects of drinking is the inability to think and function on ones own in the world around them. This is in a drunk state where someone needed to sponsor another just to get them to A.A. it was to end there and A.A's FELLOWSHIP
Careers were responsible not a FOLLOW-SHIP of the S.S
A sponsor, finds a wet one who fits the above criteria as they could be found in insane asylums before the hospitals started the sponsorship system needed to help out., once found that person would need to sponsored (because they were not able to think or function ) and taken them through the steps and then bringing them to A.A. not ever telling them what to do in A.A., just letting them know they needed to help another drunk to A.A.

The sponsorship system is needed and created for hospital admittance purposes for the alcoholic who still suffered or whoever was unable at the time.
Not being mentioned in the 164 pages of the program and clearly seen in hospitals,
How did the outside sponsorship system get married to A.A.? Or it can be said, How did it get out of the hospital and insane asylums?
The Sponsorship system in hospitals and insane asylums worked great but in A.A. it goes against the principles of the program itself. Very CONTROLversial which creates dependency on another person place or thing which is not God as many believe.
The outside sponsorship system in A.A. can only weaken a alcoholics spirit. When one understands and becomes part of A.A. they need not be diverted by other dependencies.
CAME TO BELIEVE "THAT" A POWER WILL RESTORE US TO SANITY not
"NOT CAME TO "BELIVE" IN A POWER.
AND "THAT" ONE IS GOD MAY YOU FIND HIM NOW.
May the spirit of the fellowship be with you instead of a dependency.
A.A.'s preamble and A.A as a whole work just great here thank you.
Bottom line how to be responsible for an alcoholic, find one that is incoherent and sponsor Him or Her just make sure A.A. IS THERE TO HELP HIM and today save them from the out of control S.S.

The sponsorships systems job is to bring an alcoholic to A.A. from the outside not hider the soul of an alcoholic while they are sober inside. It is only by spiritual principles one needs to follow and that my friend begins souly WITHIN and it also ends within. Don't worry you will have a sobriety date weather it be on a sugar coated cake or engraved in stone on a grave.
The Traditions of A.A were being formed in 1946 to stop the self proclaimed system from destroying A.A,. Clarence S promotional pamphlet on the Sponsorship System in 1944 as CLARANCE S, WHO DECLARED HIMSELF OUT IN THE OPEN "THE FATHER OF A.A". today has come true.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 6, 2007 12:43 AM

Where in the Big Book does it say to get a sponsor?
Where in the steps does it say to get a sponsor?
Where in the Traditions of A.A. does it say to get a sponsor?
IT DOESENT! The outside sponsor system S.S is self promoting using fear, and ones own lack of discipline to promote the S.S. I have seen more people die in A.A leaning on a the system for guidance and protection other than the program the ones that follow A.A's message that God could and would if sought get the reprieve - People places and things will easily divert us as the outside sponsorship craze already has.
A.A.'S FELLOWSHIP IS A "SIMPLE SUGGESTED PROGRAM" THE SPONSORSHIP SYSTEM. S.S. HAS TURNED INTO A "PROGRAM OF SUGGESTIONS" A FOLLOW-SHIP.
Today Bill .W is turning over in his grave.
Insanity of an alcoholic- The effects of drinking is the inability to think and function on ones own in the world around them. This is in a drunk state where someone needed to sponsor another just to get them to A.A. it was to end there and "A.A's FELLOWSHIP"
Careers were responsible not a "S.S FOLLOW-SHIP "
The outside sponsorship system was to find a wet one who fits the above criteria, they could be found in insane asylums as the hospitals who started the system needed them to help them, once found the person who need to sponsored (because they were not able to think or function ) was taken through the steps as soon as they came to and then brought to A.A. never telling them what to do in A.A., just letting them know they needed to help another drunk to A.A.

The sponsorship system was needed and created for hospital admittance purposes for the alcoholic who still suffered or whoever was unable at the time.
Not being mentioned in the 164 pages of the program and clearly seen in hospitals,
How did the outside sponsorship system get married to A.A. itself? Or it can be said, How did it get out of the hospital and insane asylums?
The Sponsorship system in hospitals and insane asylums worked great but in A.A. it goes against the principles of the program itself. Very CONTROLversial which creates dependency on another person place or thing which is not God the message of A.A.
The outside sponsorship system, in A.A. can only weaken a alcoholics spirit undermined the altruism in the brotherhood of the fellowship. When or if one understands and becomes part of A.A. they need not be diverted by other dependencies.
Tradition three lets another know they are a member if they say so, no need to be sponsored.
CAME TO BELIEVE "THAT" A POWER WILL RESTORE US TO SANITY not
"NOT CAME TO BELIEVE "IN" A POWER.
AND "THAT" ONE IS GOD, MAY YOU FIND HIM NOW.
May the spirit of the fellowship be with you instead of the S.S.
A.A.'s preamble and A.A as a whole work just great here thank you.
Bottom line how to be responsible for an alcoholic, find one that is incoherent and sponsor Him or Her just make sure A.A. IS THERE TO HELP THEM and save them from the out of control S.S.

The sponsorships systems job is to bring an alcoholic to A.A. from the outside not hider the soul of an alcoholic while they are sober inside. It is only by spiritual principles one needs to follow and that my friend begins souly WITHIN and it also ends within. Don't worry you will have a sobriety date weather it be on a sugar coated cake or engraved in stone on a grave.
The Traditions of A.A were being formed in 1946 to stop the self proclaimed system from destroying A.A,. Clarence S promotional pamphlet on the Sponsorship System in 1944 as CLARANCE S, DECLARED HIMSELF in the open "THE FATHER OF A.A". and today that has come true.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 6, 2007 1:02 AM

If known or convicted, all the predators pictures should be shown, for it's not A.A. in the first place. It is the responsibility of people to protect another children from predators even if they seek sanctions to hide and pry on the weary in A.A..

Who is more at fault, the sick predators or the ones that watch and follow and take no action?

The recovery rate mentioned in the Big Book use to be +50%, the last 27 years the recovery rate fell to less than 5%. How many has died and not found the A.A program, as a direct result diverted by the outside Sponsorship Systems? Hundreds of Thousands or Millions?. Why is the brotherhood, the altruism of the fellowship being undermined by this system?
Where there is evil, there is a need for control, to control is to be controlled and that is not what A.A was about in the beginning.

Posted by: Sad it's here | August 6, 2007 1:50 AM

"....and that is not what AA was about in the beginning."
Comments such as this reveal the myopia of many within AA. Marc's article has opened the doors for a closer look at what AA is capable of producing today. To wit: a cult of personalities shrouded in secretive anonymity. Anonymity in and of itself is not the problem. It is the hypocrisy of a religious movement claiming it isn't just that.
When I read the post above claiming that the Oxford group died out (Posted by: dondi207 | August 2, 2007 05:14 PM ) I realize the history of AA is a many splintered thing. The Oxford froup lives on....in AA. Bill knew alcoholics weren't going to stomach all the "God" stuff, and "absolutes" of the Oxford dogma....so he re-wrote the steps of that group, added 6 additional steps, and changed some of that (to accommodate the very vocal opposition of the others involved)for the Big Book to carry the "message". It was still all about acheiving the Oxford goal...saving souls. The original version of step 12 spelled out the carrying out of the "message" to all people...not just alcoholics. And, there isn't much ambiguity in the Big Books wording about what that message was intended to be...."...there is one who has all power...that one is God, may you find Him now....". I would say the Oxford group's distaste for being associated with the likes of alcoholics such as Bill Wilson, and Dr. Bob (so much for absolute love) only led to their bastard step child...Alcoholics Anonymous.
Hardly a dying out. I do not disregard the reprieve from active alcoholism that many alcoholic drinkers receive from AA. But, for the purposes of defining what AA is, and what the "message" of AA is, let us at least look at what it's founders were up to....creating a religious movement in order to bring alcoholics to God. So forgive me if I fail to see the relevancy of whether "traditions" are being violated in this controversy. What is apparent is that should these allegations of sexual, financial, social, and psychological abuse bear out to be truth...then once again a weaker, and less capable segment of society (teenagers)have been exposed to less than honorable persons operating under the guise of (I'll be generous and refer to it as) a quasi-religious entity that fosters the God delusion one more time.

Posted by: whatitis | August 6, 2007 6:25 AM

A.A. is not at fault,the sponsorship system that took over A.A.
A.A. has no power to stop more faults from coming from the outside sponsorship takeover.
The book is just suggested, sponsorship has become a requirement.
The S.S., one more time, bringing down the good, this time A.A.
A.A. states "Let go let God"
S.S. states "let go and ask your sponsor"
Something sad, getting sadder
Take a closer look

Posted by: Take a closer look | August 6, 2007 11:28 AM

The sponsorship system is a strong undercurrent around A.A that has become a deadly riptide. It's hard to swim against the riptide, over time, a lot give up and have to swim with it, hoping to survive. If alcohol itself doesn't do one in, the S.S. will.

Posted by: Under currents | August 6, 2007 11:48 AM

Does the altruism in the brotherhood of A.A.'s fellowship need to be sponsored?
If so why?
Is this where the system injects itself into the whole and rides on its shirt tail, luring others in to a follow me situation rather than a fellowship?

Posted by: Taking a closer look | August 6, 2007 12:40 PM

There are many groups in A.A for the newcomer to attend. The top 3 deadliest organized S.S. groups like the Sponsorship Midtown group in Southern California are in order.

1.The Pacific group Guru Clancy I
2.The Big Book Group Guru Johnny H
3.The Dog on the roof Group Guru Keith D

Out of the hundreds of A.A. meetings in Southern California a night, this small list is for any newcomer, to beware, who is looking for recovery in A.A. as a whole, without getting caught in the deadly riptide of the organized outside Sponsorship Systems requirements.
Our Tradition Three is clear "You are a member if you say so" meaning, you don't have to have someone sponsor you in A.A., to JOIN US, yet this same Tradition allows predators in also, if they are not organized we stand a chance the three groups above are "structured organized groups" beware they are called home groups.
The above groups have one thing in common with Midtown, organization of the strong outside sponsorship system, which is there requirement. They may deny this, but the group will (not conscious) will prove it, if one can even stick around long enough and it seems others just love's "it's perks". (not meaning the coffee)
A solution: The Big Book an uninterrupted version not from the outside system, not to follow any person, place or thing, only the dictates of "that" power
which A.A. refers to as God, May you find him now, Join A.A. as a whole learn from the educational variety, stick with the all of A.A. don't let someone pry you away from the whole and don't let organized home groups convince you it is "in" the power what A.A. is not about. Good luck and may the spirit of the true fellowship of A.A. be with you. Three known out of the hundred s of other meeting is not bad odds.

Posted by: Solution to newcomers | August 7, 2007 1:02 AM

'Solution to newcomers', may the spirit of the true fellowship of AA be with you as well.

The past few weeks have been very discouraging to an (I hate to say this phrase :-) 'old timer' who has learned about this police state of sexual and economic exploitation called 'Midtown' and posing as a group of Alcoholics Anonymous. Now it's looking like there are other such groups around the country.

I suppose with everything happening in the world it ought not be surprising that a fellowship whose core values are honesty, trust, and giving has been invaded and perverted by those whose values appear to be deceit, betrayal, greed, and self aggrandizement. A fellowship which believes in 'principles over personalities' and essentially that 'there's no limit to what we can do as long as we don't care who gets the credit' to groups with with strict hierarchies led by Big Brother.

As I say, it's discouraging. But I'm also glad, as you point out, that the great majority of AA groups still follow the values, principles and traditions of our program.

Posted by: DCC | August 7, 2007 11:37 AM

everything that I have been reading on here is a croc. As a "normal" person, I dated someone in the Midtown group. I went to many meetings, going every Sunday and to special activities on the weekends such as watches, dances, and outings. These people are the most amazing people ever. They know how to properly treat eachother, they are welcoming...NEVER JUDGE ANYONE. They do not have underage sex and they sure as hell do not have a leader. Mike Q is dying, DYING. Of course he needs help from his friends with taking care of his house. All of this information is absolutly insane and I am embarrased for everyone that wrote this information. You are ruining these amazing peoples lives. All they are doing is helping all of the young people in the area, keeping them alive.

Just wanted to share this information. And again, the people in the Midtown group are amazing, do not forget that!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2007 3:36 PM

There is, undeniably, a lot of good fellowship at Midtown. Many of the people in the outer layers may not know what's going on. As a "normal" person, you have even less access.

However, I have talked to people I've known for a long time personally and confirmed the worst of these reports.

Doing housework and yardwork for the leadership "hierarchy" (and since you're not in AA you have no idea what a contradiction with AA's principles that phrase is) is something that everyone acknowledges, even those who vehemently deny the other accusations. Also, most everyone acknowledges that sponsors direct their sponsees to terminate their prescription medications - even the Midtown statement says that many sponsors are not "comfortable" with sponsoring those who take medication. Many other practices are likewise acknowledged by those who may not even realize how contrary to AA traditions they are - because they've never really been in an AA program.

That leaves older male sponsors for young women - teenage girls actually, and the twisting of AA principles such as "selflessness" and "service work" and "going to any lengths to get sober" to mean providing sexual services to their sponsor. This is sickening. I know that older men are "sponsoring" young women right now in Midtown. Sponsors are the most personal and trusted of advisers to sponsees in our program. Men sponsoring women in real AA is a big no-no. Except in extraordinary situations, it's contrary to our traditions and guidance and should never happen.

The pressure for young women to have sex with sponsors - including underage sex - and actually having sex with them went on extensively in the past, from the 1980s to pretty recently, and we have no reason to think it's stopped. Sexual predators who are being satisfied rarely quit. They also rarely proclaim their activities in public.

Posted by: DCC | August 7, 2007 6:53 PM

It's not the men, and it's not the woman, it's the outside sponsorship system. GET IT
The opposite sex can be descent to each other,it's the outside sponsorship system that can't help another in A.A., the altruism in the brotherhood of the fellowship can no mater what sex, color or creed. You need to get this straight don't let an outside system take A.A. down.
Please don't mix A.A. up with the outside sponsorship system.
The word is not even mentioned in the Big Book and is "self promoted" by the sick sponsor system itself. Where in the Big Book is the sick word sponsor or sponsorship? The "WE" is the fellowship as a whole.

Posted by: what happen and what it's like now | August 8, 2007 1:38 AM

To the person who is dating someone from Midtown and thinks this is all a "crock":

What makes you think that what you saw is what everyone else there actually experiences? You don't see what happens behind closed doors.

Ask Mike or your boyfriend or girlfriend when "The Fourth Way" became a part of A.A.

Posted by: XQ | August 8, 2007 10:23 AM

what happened, I agree with you that the "system" used at Midtown is deeply flawed and contributes to this mess. However, there are very serious offenses alleged here, far beyond simple sex. There are charges of physical threats, keeping 4th steps and recording 5th steps and threatening to expose these if people complain, of physical threats of bodily harm for the same, etc etc. So let's not be so quick to let individuals off the hook.

Posted by: DCC | August 8, 2007 10:48 AM

XQ, is the "Fourth Way" a variation of the 13th step?

Posted by: DCC | August 8, 2007 12:36 PM

Understood, as more is being reviled about the sponsorship system

Posted by: To understan rather than be understood | August 8, 2007 12:58 PM

DCC--

Oh, no. Not the same. Try a google search. You'll see.

Posted by: XQ | August 9, 2007 9:04 AM

I just decided to check out this page weeks after the article was published, and you losers are still going around in circles reminding each other that you are right. Your lives must be amazingly uninteresting.

I would also like to thank who ever posted the list of Midtown meetings, I need to go reconnect with some old friends.

Posted by: David S. | August 9, 2007 11:03 AM

I don't like Midtown either. They made me do service and they had girls and some of the boys slept with some of the girls and they passed a basket and put dollars in it and smoked cigarettes and drank coffee and one of the girl tried to touch my pee pee.

Get on with your lives people, move along there is nothing to see here.

Posted by: John B. | August 9, 2007 11:49 AM

Thus, if you consider communal AA separately from institutional AA, you're left with little choice but to conclude that AA isn't a cult--though it comes close, and does have many dangerous, cult-like tendencies. But if you regard institutional AA as an extension of communal AA and consider them as one, you're inexorably drawn to the conclusion that AA is a cult. Communal/institutional AA definitely isn't in the same league with vicious, destructive cults such as the Moonies and the People's Temple, but it does display an alarmingly high number of similarities to such groups. All in all, communal/institutional AA merits the description given to it by Stanton Peele: "Cult Lite."x

Posted by: pollster | August 11, 2007 2:10 AM

Communal A.A, is propelled by self willingness's, a kinship the fellowship where everyone talks to anyone anywhere anytime.

Institutional A.A. is propelled by others guiding others, good or bad.
A outside system operating inside of A.A. in large groups and individual bases, set rules through fear, in and of the system itself. You will drink if you don't have one, and you could drink if you are not one. This is the outside sponsorship system inside A.A used to grow a group larger. When that happens, the individual spirits weakens. A lot of the why and how the recovery rate got so low today inside of A.A. To see this point of view, find and ask the alcoholics that are still drinking or not that tried A.A. and was lured into the gangs of the S.S. that is taking A.A. from the inside out.

Posted by: Sadly Interesting | August 12, 2007 10:49 AM

Well, I find this talk of communal and institutional AA interesting. As a member sober for 22 years, I've never heard these terms used although the description of Midtown certainly makes it seem like a cult and fit the "institutional" label above.

My recovery is based mostly on meetings. For the last 10-12 years, I have averaged maybe 2 a month although I go to an especially interesting meeting pretty much every week now and have for a few years. I have had very little in the way of sponsors although many close friends in the program.

My home group now has a lot of very solid sober people; of maybe 50 regulars, more than half have 20-50 years sobriety with many in the 30-40 year range. I read above the "low" rate of recovery for AA but this is not my experience. We get newcomers and if they continue to come back they have a very high probability of staying sober. People are free to come and go and do their own thing. I can think of a number in the last couple years who came to our meeting in the first few weeks of stopping drinking and they are still sober. Our group is very accepting and friendly but does not descend on people and try to lock them into anything. Partly as a result, those who cannot seem to stop drinking are completely welcome to come back in again and again and accepted without any "harassment", moral superiority or lecturing, and they frequently do keep coming back, and eventually they will stop if they do. I think a lot of these "statistics" about AA's effectiveness are about meetings that encourage buses from rehab centers and try and promote themselves. They are self aggrandizing and think of themselves as treatment centers rather than a support group for those who want support. Of course, any alcoholic is welcome to go to any AA meeting but our tradition says we operate by attraction, not promotion. And we use encouragement, not harassment or lecturing.

Posted by: DCC | August 12, 2007 5:45 PM

28 Years in A.A. and I find this amazing.
My hope is the above group is true and not someones exaggeration or imaginatively promotion act. Gone to a lot of meeting I had not seen someone come in at 10 years old and have 20 years today, but that would be great, 50% between 20 and 50 years sober, where? so I may recommend others to a place that don't promote the Sponsorship System and uses the A.A. program. we do have one that came in at 15 years old and has 18 years today.

Posted by: Thats amazing | August 12, 2007 11:11 PM

Well, my group is quite real, I assure you. To my knowledge no one came in at 10 years old, however. I came in the program in Northern VA, not this group, at 38 and have 22 years. There are people who came into this group 15-20 years ago, made it their home group then, and it still is. Many others go to this group but did not start out with this group.

Most people have sponsors, and that's extremely common in the program in my experience. However, there is no "promotion" of any kind of program or system and everyone is free to do what they wish, say what they wish in meetings, and everyone is accepted for what they are.

No group in the program ought promote itself, nor advertise itself. You can email me at midtownfeedback@yahoo.com if you wish. Thanks.

Posted by: DCC | August 13, 2007 10:51 AM

MIDTOWN? How did your sponsorship get started in A.A, if not promoted or even mentioned in the Big Book? Interesting

Posted by: MIDTOWN FEED BACK? | August 13, 2007 2:20 PM

MIDTOWN? How did your sponsorship system get started in A.A, if not "promoted"? or even mentioned in the Big Book? Interesting

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Cat-Like Typing Detected.

Posted by: PawSense System Error | August 14, 2007 10:19 AM

SPONSORSHIP "IN" A.A. GOT STARTED AND PROPELS ITSELF TODAY THROUGH PROMOTIONAL FEAR TACTICS.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2007 10:52 AM

If the sponsorship system started outside A.A. to help others find a meeting and the fellowship of A.A. helps and supports the people in A.A. It looks like the actions of the sponsorship system have become a power and possessive to A.A.'s fellowship.

Posted by: Question? | August 15, 2007 11:06 AM

Mike Q died this morning. Peace be with us all.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 16, 2007 8:16 AM

Unfortunatley Mike Q Colored many of my adolesent and adult years. I had no idea that he was a sociopath until 2004, at which time Laleh and I started the love and service group. Since then, many others have joined us in our quest to expose Mike Q and Midtown for the cult that it is.

Midtown's philosophy come's from Q, a sociopath. That means that all who are in midtown only hear the message from a sociopath... THERE IS NO RECOVERY THERE. Only deception.

The most important lesson that I have learned in my life is to follow my heart, not my head. Read any of the multitude's of spiritual literature available to us and this is also what it says.
This you will never hear in a Midtown meeting, part of the manipulation and controlling of a cult leader/ sociopath. There you will only hear "listen to your sponsor, not your heart".

I am commited to continue exposing the Midtown Group & helping those still involved see it for what it truly is.

Rob K

Posted by: Rob K | August 16, 2007 10:53 PM

My sponsor told me the onlt thing I could truly rely on to stay sober is my faith in a higher power, then he quicky informed me that he was not it.

Talk about sociopath. I rememer meeting Rob K for the first time at a meeting in Bethesda over two years ago and could just tell that something wasn't quite right upstairs, if you know what I mean.

I guess from what he says we should all be so blessed and thankful that he "another sick alcoholic", mind you is looking out for my best interest. Yeah no ego there buddy. I thing someone needs to try taking a look at thier own inventory instead of everyone else's. But hey, where's the fun in that.

Rob I don't need you to look out for my best interest, I have myfamily and a faith in a higher power that do that for me.

Getting much sleep on other people's couches these days are you? I can't beleieve that one person could live in such resentent and still find a way to get up every morning. Not to mention get on with thier life............. Maybe you should try to.

I don't need you to save me, the power of the program of recovery in AA has done that thus far. Get a life dude. then maybe you could try getting a job, but hey first things first huh?

Posted by: Whaaaaaa | August 17, 2007 10:08 AM

I the first thing you ever learned was to follow your heart and you still ended up digging yourself such a hole that AA was the only thing that could save you? Maybe you might want to talk to your sponsor about what your heart is telling you.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 17, 2007 10:14 AM

The forum looses it focus by-way of emotions in disorders, much like the Sponsorship System throughout A.A.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 17, 2007 11:12 PM

Obviously you have no idea who I am or what I do.

Posted by: Couch? Job? | August 18, 2007 2:21 AM

As if, that even matters.
Maybe if you are the type that prey on others using the S.S. around A.A.

Posted by: WHAT? | August 18, 2007 1:20 PM

Come one, come all.

See Rob K. get called to the carpet at the next WAIA!

Posted by: Barbara P. | August 18, 2007 10:29 PM

WOW, you're intergroup must be a shining example of recovery in DC.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 19, 2007 11:17 PM

Mike Q died?! Wow maybe now all the people that were sponsored by him, can find a healthy sponsor. Or maybe they might just sponsor eachother to keep it in the fam.

Posted by: Ms. A | August 20, 2007 8:47 AM

Mike Q died?! Wow maybe now all the people that were sponsored by him, can find a healthy sponsor. Or maybe they might just sponsor eachother to keep it in the fam.

Posted by: Ms. A | August 20, 2007 8:47 AM

Clancey is as big a womanizer as the rest. He is married and has a girlfriend!! Check it out. It is true. The problem here is that we all have a disease that is fatal in nature so years of sobriety do not protect you against alcoholism!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2007 11:52 AM

Alcoholism rocks! Everyone should have it! If they don't, we should give it to them.

Posted by: Yeah!!!! | August 20, 2007 12:59 PM

Womanizers rock! Rock on womanizers in AA!!! So funny how all these people hate those who are getting laid. You're not gettin any and that's why you're mad.

Posted by: Yeah!!! | August 20, 2007 1:02 PM

Hard to believe this whole thing arose from Rob K being upset that his ex-girlfriend, Rocky, had sex with another guy after he broke up with her in 1993. Man, that's a serious resentment. 14 years of resentment eating away at this guys soul. Someone in his own circle told me this. Rob has brough down the whole name of AA just to get revenge on something that happened 14 years ago. Man, get a life! GEEEZZZZ!!!!

Posted by: Yeah!!! | August 20, 2007 1:07 PM

Hard to believe this whole thing arose from Rob K being upset that his ex-girlfriend, Rocky, had sex with another guy after he broke up with her in 1993. Man, that's a serious resentment. 14 years of resentment eating away at this guys soul. Someone in his own circle told me this. Rob has brough down the whole name of AA just to get revenge on something that happened 14 years ago. Man, get a life! GEEEZZZZ!!!!

Posted by: Yeah!!! | August 20, 2007 1:08 PM

Hard to believe this whole thing arose from Rob K being upset that his ex-girlfriend, Rocky, had sex with another guy after he broke up with her in 1993. Man, that's a serious resentment. 14 years of resentment eating away at this guys soul. Someone in his own circle told me this. Rob has brough down the whole name of AA just to get revenge on something that happened 14 years ago. Man, get a life! GEEEZZZZ!!!!

Posted by: Yeah!!! | August 20, 2007 1:08 PM

Kudos to Rob K. The public is much smarter that Mr. "Yeah" gives us credit. Of course, the members of your group (Midtown) are going to try to discredit anyone trying to expose the harms being done to its members. Shame on all who can't see past "blaming a resentment" excuse from this group. Wrong is wrong, EVERYONE (but you) knows its wrong and Midtown should admit their wrongs, take a group inventory, get rid of all its leaders and try to make amends to those harmed. Anything less than that and your group should be stopped from damaging AA and other human beings. I hope Rob K. and any and all other local efforts can do it. My prayers are with you.

Posted by: Atlanta | August 20, 2007 5:03 PM

Well, looks like the young people on here can only resort to bashing those of us who know the truth about Q group.
If you feel soooo strongly that Midtown is not what it has alleged to be, why don't you start another group?
I would have to say that Midtown is much more defensive and resentful than any of us here that were actually in Midtown and now speak the truth.
The only motivation I have is to make those in Midtown see that many of us have stayed sober, not dry, in meetings outside of Midtown. I am not resentful. I am grateful that I did not buy into the beliefs that I would "drink" if I left. I had to laugh when I heard the rumor that I was "resentful" when I left.
Actually, my primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.
Leaving Midtown was one of the best, most spiritual decisions I did in the first years of my sobriety.

Posted by: out of midtown, out of dc | August 20, 2007 9:23 PM


Midtown out of DC quoted
"If you feel soooo strongly that Midtown is not what it has alleged to be, why don't you start another group?"

Why can't we just take care of what we have while we have it.? Instead of letting there outside sponsorship system push others around.?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2007 10:19 PM

Well, as an "old timer" with 22 years, I can attest that the sexual predators have been alive and well in Midtown for at least that long - back to mid 80s at least. In the 80s, men who were up to 70 years old were assigning themselves to young, brand new females, telling them that they had to go to any lengths to get sober, that sex with them was "service work" and was part of the "spirituality" they needed to learn.

Disgusting! I am quite tired of the Midtown robots on this board who keep bashing anyone speaking against this perversion of our program - a perversion that is still going on, now without Michael Quinones.

In AA, we are responsible for seeing that the helping hand of AA is available to those who seek it. Note: the helping hand of AA, not that of a cult of sex predators.

Posted by: DCC | August 20, 2007 10:34 PM

The outside sponsorship system is the dangerous pitfalls in Alcoholics Anonymous.

One day may we all "be true to thy self", for it is impossible to find it outside of self.

The S.S. and its members need to take an inventory.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2007 11:35 PM

Where is the obituary? Maybe he really didn't die. Maybe he is with Elvis in Costa Rica,living off of all of the stolen money. Oh, that's right, it cost money to put an obituary in the Washington Post.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 1:11 AM

You're all like the Grand Inquisitors on here. I'm not even in Midtown. But you see, anyone who disagrees with you is branded as being in Midtown. Someone who points out a major flaw in your argument is a Midtowner trying to defend a sex cult. You are laughable. AA needs to rid itself of you and people like you.

A whole 300+ person group of sexual predators. Okay. Why don't you put that in print AND name each one of their first and last names if you are so sure of yourself. I think we know why you won't do that. Because you will get the crap sued out of you for libel and slander. Because the bottom line is that 95% of the people on here, including Rob and Lale are full of
S$%t.

Only an ass would beleive the things you say about Midtown. A total of 300 sexual predators. More like 300 people gettig laid and a small group of jealous and resentful dumbasses. Get a life! OR please give me your name so I can dig up some dirt on you, give it a Karl Rove-like spin and turn you into a money laundering pimp or something. With the right connections in the press, it CAN be done. Just look around you.

Sound absurd? Yes, it is absurd. Just like this story and your postings. Half-truths, your life's work is a bunch of half-truths. You are Hitler reincarnate!

Posted by: Yeah!!! | August 21, 2007 8:28 AM

YEAH Quoted "AA needs to rid itself of you and people like you."

Thats why Bill W wrote the TRADITIONS to try to preserve the inside of A.A. from the outside sponsorship System. READ THEM, FULL FORM, KEEPING AN OPEN MIND of the actions of any S.S. on another in A.A.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 9:19 AM

It's easy to see why people have to drink in A.A. Never thought the person who wanted to helped me after I was in the door, would threaten me to leave if I did do what "they" wanted. And then have the "arrogance" to say "at least I'm still sober".
The system sure Lacks Humility

Posted by: True to thy own self | August 21, 2007 9:34 AM

Sadness, is the trump card here.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 9:38 AM

You're a witch hunter! Yeah, baby!!!

Posted by: Yeah!!! | August 21, 2007 9:53 AM

Yeah!!!, you have not read the story or factual posts above. Midtown is led by a relatively small male hierarchy and most members are not aware of the extent of what is going on.

There is economic and sexual exploitation by this small group of "leaders" and it has been going on for quite some time. It is time for this to end. This is not AA, it is a cult-like group led by sociopaths spouting AA slogans. It is doing far more harm than good.

Perhaps if reading is not to your taste you can just watch it on TV. Stay tuned.

Posted by: DCC | August 21, 2007 2:10 PM

DCC,

I would like to commend you on the honest and forthright manner in which you have approached all of this. I mean it must have taken as much courage as one could muster to be able to come forward and stand up behind anonymous blogs, websites, reporters and journalists.

It sure is easy to stand off stage and whisper lines to the actors isn't it? Hey, I got a question. Exactly how many members of the press that decided to report on this "controversy" have actually attended any of the meetings in question or have even picked up a big book? That doesn't really seem like informed journalism to you does it?

I find it highly ludicrous that the author would openly admit to not even having attended the meeting in question on his blog. Now thats what I call making an informed and bias free opinion. Let gather all the facts and then decide.

I had to laugh when I read one that myspace profile about the anxiety some "concerned friends" were begining to feel when they feared that if "townies" got kicked out of all of thier churches that they may storm other meetings. I especially got a kick out of some of the suggestions that were offered to help protect the "sanctity" of thier meetings. Some of the same actions that were suggested, are the very same actions that these concerned friends accused and berated midtown for in the first place. True?

By the way, what ever happened to our friend May? Been going to a lot of other meetings in the area, and not against sponsor direction mind you, and haven't seen her in a while. Heard she went back out again. If that is true, I do feel bad. If it is true I hold those in contempt that would seemingly stand behind her and ever so gently push and prod her to come forwardand "tell her story" for the good of the cause. You want to preach to me from your moral and spiritiual pulpit about taking advantage of a newcomers?

I'll pray for you tonight. I imagine it must be a miserable existence to wake up every day and hate on a group of people, most of which you don't even know. You wake up on a Tuesday mad. You go to work and are still mad. After work you grab some dinner and go to a meeting and conspire with all of your friends about the evils of Midtown and get even madder still. You hang out for a while, go home and go to bed mad. You wake up the next day and begin all over again. WOW (shaking my head). I identify, I really do. Sounds like me before I foud a higher power and a program of recovery.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2007 1:18 AM

Dear Mr or Ms. ?,

Sorry, I don't know your name or even a handle here so I address you as ?

I am not, as you put it, standing "up behind anonymous blogs, websites, reporters and journalists". After the articles came out, I did a considerable amount of research on my own, relying on my network of member friends gathered over the twenty two years of my sobriety in our program in this area. I have talked to a number of members who have personal experience of the Midtown sexual predators. People I have known for many years, and trust completely, who had never mentioned these things happened to them until prompted by this controversy. If you want the details, you can read my posts above. What the Midtown "hierarchy" did to my friends is sickening.

As far as your speculation about my life, you have a vivid imagination. You think I am in some sort of conspiracy? You think I spend my life thinking about you? Isn't there a term for the way you are? Oh, yeah, I remember.

Are you what Midtown is like? If you and your ilk are what Midtown is like on a day to day basis that's frightening. I need no more information than the abusive posts -- generally removed by the Post censor, unfortunately -- from Midtown enforcers to conclude that the "cultlike" characterization of Midtown is spot on.

However, if it will ease your mind any, I don't think about you at all. Nor do I hate you at all. What I do is check this blog each morning, and if I see something that catches my eye, I respond. I think it's important to keep this conversation going. I also think it's important to participate in AA-associated organizations which might have a say in our program in this area, and nationally. I haven't done that for years but have started again. Because, as the famous quote says, "All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing." I think you'll find this will not go away and that many, many others feel as I do.

Posted by: DCC | August 22, 2007 7:11 AM

Yawwwwnnnnnn. Someone sounds a little cranky first thing in the morning :0

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2007 10:04 AM

So people who haven't been to midtown meetings don't know what they're talking about, and people who have been don't either (because they're clouded by resentment)? Boy, what a "misunderstood" group.

I've been. And I have heard young women repeatedly and openly share about their male sponsors. And I've seen quite a few older men and younger women couples.

So when allegations arise in the media that older men have been exploiting and taking advantage of younger women in the group, it's really not that much of a mental leap.

Even if it isn't true, Midtown has ignored AA literature and AA oldtimers who have suggested that men sponsoring women is not a good idea. And this is precisely why. There is too much room for misunderstanding, allegations, and impropreity.

But the group ignored that advice then, and continues to ignore it now. Further, they DEFEND it. Despite the negative attention that they've received and have brought upon AA as a whole.

It's not in line with the principles of AA to behave in this way. There needs to be an inventory and amends. It's not that complicated.

If Midtown isn't handling this situation in a way that upholds the principles of AA, how can anyone assume that they are upholding the principles anywhere else?

Posted by: Jane D. | August 22, 2007 10:19 AM

I think tthe point hat the blog before DCC last was trying to make was how could members of the media make informed opionions on the goings on of ANY group or meeting if they have not exposed themselves to what they are reporting about in the first place. That does not paint a picture of unbiasedness, does it?

By the way, nobody ever did mention whatever happened to May.........

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2007 10:28 AM

DCC,

It could just be me, but after reading the article initially, I was struck by the fact that these accusations are in the neighborhood of 5-9 years old? Did I get that right? I kinda agree w/ the guy above about the author not Fischer not ever having been to an AA meeting. If enough people came toghether and told this guy that the sky was pink, would he write about that as fact too?

By the way, what ever did happen to May???

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2007 10:33 AM

Biased or not, informed or not....doesn't really matter now. The articles are out there and how Midtown is reacting to it is NOT in line with the principles of AA.

If someone makes slanderous comments about me, I still have a responsibility to conduct myself in a certain way. The Program doesn't say, "practice these principles in all our affairs.....except when the other person is really, really wrong."

If a charge of criminal wrong-doing is made, who cares how long ago the crime occurred? If a crime occurred within a group, that group is still responsible. That individual is still responsible. And they both still bear SOME responsibility for their part of any FALSE allegations, as well.

Yet none of that has happened. Midtown hasn't acknowledged ANY responsibility for any of this. That speaks volumes. And it is in keeping with everything I've ever seen or heard about this group.

Posted by: Jane D. | August 22, 2007 10:58 AM

Biased or not, informed or not? Het I got some ocean front propert in Arizona for sale, I'll give you a really good deal. You in?

Lets set the record straigh about "criminal wrong doing" too. who exactly has been charged and or arrested here? Last I hear, some accusations have been leveled. If even the FBI has a file on these guys, home come a SWAT team hasn't shown up at thier meeting w/ a paddy wagon to lead them all away?

I laugh when you say Midtown hasn't acknowledged any responsibility. You are telling us that the group as a whole needs to atone for the sins of a few?

If I am a member of midtown and all of these "crimes" happened before I even got sober, I somehow have to answer for them? That would be like a college player just signed by the Alanta Falcons having to stand up to PEETA and face the music for how Mike Vick reats dogs.

If I am a member of Midtown who has only been there 3 years, please explain to me me how or why I would need to stand up and answer for whataver Mike Q has been accused of that happened well before I even knew what AA was?

I'm glad to see that I have been tried and convicted in the court of public opionion w/o my day in court. Quilt by association really is an ugly thing isn't it?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2007 12:13 PM

I didn't say anything about guilt or conviction.

The fact is, however, that the media has named both Midtown and Mike Q. of carrying out questionable acts. If you are a self-identified member of Midtown, then, yes, you are responsible for addressing the issues with regards to YOUR group.

Accusations were never made against the Atlanta Falcons, yet they made a decision to IMMEDIATELY distance themselves from the person who was charged. Accusations have been made against Midtown. Guilt or not, Midtown should be handling it in a manner in keeping w/ AA's steps and traditions.

And if it were me, and a few members of my group were responsible for sullying my group's name, I would want to hold them accountable. I surely wouldn't be defending them and minimizing their actions. And if I felt that those folks were not acting in an above board manner, I would make a choice to disassociate myself from them.

If you choose to align yourself with a controversial group, feel free. But don't act surprised when all that controversy ends up in your lap, too.

Posted by: Jane D. | August 22, 2007 1:17 PM

Quitly by association in your eyes, is still just as ugly. We can argue here all day and not change eithers mind. I don't even know why I bother responding.........


You can preach to me "from your spiritual hilltop" all you want, I'll let reasonable people judge me based on my actions as an individual and as a sober member of AA. Not off of rumor or inuendo. I'll let you hold onto that one, you can have it.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2007 1:54 PM

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. Can we please get some healthy discussion going on here?? all these people that have it in for the Midtown group need to stop believing that they are defending AA as a whole. Talk about ego and self will run riot. Resentment is especially ugly when you have others there to co-sign them.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2007 1:58 PM

What rumor and innuendo?

Has Midtown, in fact, done anything with regards to this bad press? Have they contacted other local groups? Area? National? World? Asked for advice on whether or not they are violating Traditions? Asked how they can seek to make amends with any of the individuals levelling charges, or with AA as a whole?

It's not MY "spiritual hilltop." It's a program of recovery which suggests a level of behavior for individuals, local groups, and the collective whole.

Part of the concerns that people have is that Midtown does NOT operate within AA's guidelines. All I'm saying is that their behavior on this issue (bad press which is affecting AA as a whole) is in keeping with the accusations that Midtown is NOT operating within the principles, steps, and traditions of AA.

It isn't convicting anyone of anything. But it sure doesn't look good. Nor does it strengthen the argument that Midtown is, in fact, operating under the principles of AA.

If you can explain how your group is dealing with this issue in a way other than what I've suggested, I would be very interested in that.

Posted by: Jane D. | August 22, 2007 2:20 PM

Jane,

Come on. Your last blog stated, and I quote

"Has Midtown, in fact, done anything with regards to this bad press? Have they contacted other local groups? Area? National? World? Asked for advice on whether or not they are violating Traditions? Asked how they can seek to make amends with any of the individuals levelling charges, or with AA as a whole?"

You know for a fact that Midtown has not tried to do anything about this? who they have and have not contacted. Glad to know you really are the end all, be all, know all about AA in this area and across the country. You really do have it all figured out, wow.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2007 2:49 PM

Nope, that's why I was ASKING.

Posted by: Jane D. | August 22, 2007 3:00 PM

(blank), if you wish to have any conversation it would be helpful to put at least some handle or letter in your name so others could respond, especially if you are going to address others in this forum by their initials or pseudonym. As far as May goes, I have no idea who that is.

Jane, yes, of course I believe you are correct. If crimes occurred in the past, it is incumbent upon others who can to try and discover what they were, who perpetrated them and what amends can be made to the victims. Let's not forget the victims here. In our program, as we all know, we are required to make amends to "all persons we had harmed where to do so would not injure them or others." And no, Midtown enforcers, 'not harming others' does not mean covering up for Midtown sexual predator "sponsors" so they won't be exposed.

Midtowners, there is plenty of evidence the crimes are still occurring. The sexual predation I referred to above was not very recent, but I have talked to others who confirm it is still occurring. And you also believe that a newspaper reporter has to personally witness events to report on them? A reporter, just like a court, accepts evidence and eyewitness statements and writes a story about them for the public. A reporter or newspaper that does not do its job accurately will not be working for long. Marc Fisher is one of the most respected journalists for one of the world's principal newspapers.

By the way, Midtowners, all I have seen from you is a stream of personal insults directed at Marc Fishers, former Midtown members, and members writing in this forum who do not agree with you. I have not seen a single fact alleged against Midtown refuted, and not a single argument directed against the Midtown position argued against logically. Your tactics here are what is called "ad hominem", defined as "attacking the character, motives, etc. of an opponent rather than debating the issue on logical grounds" and "appealing to prejudice and emotion rather than to reason".

Wikipedia explains this tactic as "replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. It is most commonly used to refer specifically to the ad hominem abusive, or argumentum ad personam, which consists of criticizing or personally attacking an argument's proponent in an attempt to discredit that argument."

Since essentially all the Midtown enforcers in this forum use exactly the same tactics, and essentially the same language, perhaps we should call their technique the "The Attack of the Clones".

As AA members, we all have a responsibility to see that "the helping hand of AA" is made available for all those who seek it - it's our Responsibility Statement, something we all subscribe to. Not the hand of sexual predators masquerading as AA "sponsors".

Posted by: DCC | August 22, 2007 3:12 PM

(blank), you got a post out there while I was writing my last one.

You ask Jane "You know for a fact that Midtown has not tried to do anything about this? who they have and have not contacted."

I can answer for those I spoke to. No one who was sexually abused that I spoke to was contacted by anyone from Midtown for the purpose of making amends. Not the person who perpetrated the abuse or anyone else. And everyone who has alleged any abuse in this forum has been consistently attacked here.

You also addressed the issue of Midtown's relations with other AA groups and with the General Service Office of AA. Perhaps you could address this specific question:

How much money has the Midtown group donated in the last two years to any AA Intergroup or the AA General Services Office? That is a factual question.

If you want to refute the charge that Midtown has contributed nothing, zero, not a penny, you can find out and give an answer.

We know that Midtown, while a small part of AA in the Washington area generally, is a large overall group and collects a lot of contributions. Where does this money go? Who accounts for it? Since almost every other group donates much of its contributions to AA Intergroups and AA GSO, that's something many members are interested in. Perhaps you can give an answer as to what happens to the money, rather than just going on the attack. Thank you.

Posted by: DCC | August 22, 2007 3:33 PM

Do you ever feel like your a character in Charle Brown?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2007 4:28 PM

Jane D., you are a facist and a Nazi. So are all of you. Basically what you are saying on this blog is that everyone in Midtown is guilty until proven innocent. That they all must answer to crimes that occurred several years ago by people they don't even know.

Here's a realistic paradigm for you: It is a fact that a couple of years ago, there was a person who attended the Du Pont Circle Club who was a known sex offender. This person frequented meetings there in 2003-04. After some sobriety time, this person committed another sexual crime against a minor female who was also in AA. He was charged and convicted.

Now according to your logic, everyone who attends Du Pont Circle Club must now answer for this man's crimes. Everyone there is all guilty by association. Are you not? For that is what you have just stated with regards to a proported similar scenario in the Midtown Group. That is facism and its finest. This is not the country or the time in history for you to be living. Your time was in the 30's under Hitler or in the 40's under Stalin. The things you suggest on here are indentical to the tactics used by those two regimes. Are you hunting Jews next?

This is especially true for you DCC, as we all know that DCC stands for Du Pont Circle Club. It is written on our Big Books at the club. DCC, what have you done since then to answer for these crimes committed by this man back in 2004? Are you not responsible and therefore subject to a certain degree of berating and accusations now. Or did you not even know about since it never made it to mass media?

DCC, you are not the spokesperson for our club, you should change your handle. All of you freaks on here bashing Midtown in your facist Nazi witchunt need to get it straight that not everyone agrees with what you're doing. I know that's hard for you to accept because you only surround yourself with others that agree with you. In that way you are insular, and your insularity breeds a certain amount stupidity and blindness to wrongs you are committing against these people and to AA.

Nothing you say will ever convince me otherwise. You are a lynchmob and a sad group of people with no life. Answer my questions above.

Posted by: The Miz | August 22, 2007 4:51 PM

BTW, yes I realize that I am dealing with some low IQ people on here, but go ahead and just try to address what I said above.

Oh, and please don't bore me with "another Midtowner attacking us". Yeah, yeah, whatever, we know, everyone who disagrees with you is a Midtowner bent on revenge, blah, blah, blah.

Your argument is plainly stated in your posts. Anyone at all who attends an AA group where someone has broken traditions or committed a crime at any point in the past is themselves also guilty of that said break in traditions or crime, and therefore must take responsiblity. THis is what you have stated on this blog verbatim.

Now, defend your argument like a goddamn American instead of ducking around the fact that you don't have one or just simply denying that you said it when it is only 2-4 posts above.

Posted by: The Miz | August 22, 2007 5:00 PM

DCC, thanks for your post explaining the "ad hominem" tactics being used by the Midtown defenders. You sooooooooo nailed the description of their handling of this whole controversy where they NEVER address the issues logically and can only go on the attack with sarcasm, completely without substance. That's because there is no defense to the truth. This "no-name" person obviously believes that all these personal stories which have been publicly exposed by reputable journalists in distingued newspapers and magazines, and on local DC TV News stations EVERY NIGHT FOR A WEEK, are "rumor and innuendo" which happened so long ago (if they happenened at all) no one should be held accountable any longer. Good Lord, what does it have to take for you people to admit something is wrong here. How many more people have to be harmed and come forward? How many more TV stories and newspaper articles have to be written? How many more years of allegations, obviously 20 is not enough, does this have to go on before the defenders realize...maybe you should look a little closer here, maybe something IS wrong here! DUHHHHH! Why don't you play "WHAT IF?" "What if" you suddenly believed all of the stories were true? "What if" you suddenly believed Midtown leaders have been taking their contributions for YEARS and using it for trips and vacations? What would you say then??? This is NOT going away until something is done. These allegations are MUCH MORE than rumors and innuendo and are not just going to be swept under a rug and forgotten. Surely you can see that?

Posted by: Atlanta | August 22, 2007 5:20 PM

With all due respect, the title at the top of this page, does not specify individuals, it says, "Midtown Group: AA Group Leads Members Away from Traditions."

Low IQ, notwithstanding, that to me seems pretty clear. Group. Midtown.

Who should that apply to, exactly?

And who is being "lynched?" Questions, discussions, and opinions are not the same as mass graves and genocide.

If you could disagree without the name-calling, that would be nice. I believe the user agreement for this page is pretty clear. And it seems that you've violated it with the personal attacks and profanity.


Posted by: Jane D. | August 22, 2007 5:25 PM


If one steps on the toes of others, expect them to retaliate, it's a shame this system is in A.A

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2007 5:33 PM

Miz, your wrote that "I realize that I am dealing with some low IQ people on here, but go ahead and just try to address what I said above...This is especially true for you DCC, as we all know that DCC stands for Du Pont Circle Club. It is written on our Big Books at the club. DCC, what have you done since then to answer for these crimes committed by this man back in 2004?"

Miz, thanks for some comic relief in this otherwise serious forum.

I am disappointed to interrupt your hate ranting here, as you seem to enjoy calling everyone who disagrees with you "fascists" and "Nazis", but the Dupont Circle Club does not have exclusive use of the letters DCC. Actually, I have nothing whatsoever to do with any Dupont Circle Club and while I have certainly heard of Dupont Circle from way out here in the sticks of Virginia, I have never heard of a Dupont Circle Club. Perhaps this is a surprise to you, but you and your club are not the center of the universe or really, anything in it.

A member with about a year sober once wailed to his sponsor about all his petty complaints. His sponsor answered, "Go up to someone at the meeting who has only a few days or weeks sobriety. Ask him what's bothering him at that moment. I guarantee you 1) there is no way to predict what this person will say except that 2) it won't be anything about you." Perhaps you could consider this in your own life.

As far of any crimes committed by "this man back in 2004", I have no idea what you are talking about. If you are talking about Michael Quinones, I have written voluminously above that I found out about these charges only recently, after the articles came out.

Posted by: DCC | August 22, 2007 5:51 PM

I think DCC and Jane need to get a grip. They are so quick to shout down anyone that offers any kind of different opionion, wether they be from midtown or not.

Why don't you try reading the black parts of pages 60 to 64 in the big book? Just because some has a different opinion, one that you may not agree with, doesn't make either of you right. No matter how justified you believe you are.

Holding onto so much spite and anger really is unhealthy, you may want to take a look at that.

Trying to help people and spread a positive message of recovery is one thing, being spiteful and ugly while doing so, is entirely another. But then again anger, justified or not never really is that attractive, is it?

Posted by: member | August 23, 2007 11:48 AM


Are we are asking a question? or are we trying to give answers? No answer is an
answer, hoping it will go away.
The S.S. is here to stay.

Posted by: Questions? | August 23, 2007 1:04 PM

The discussion has moved to the second Marc Fisher posting of yesterday at

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2007/08/aa_renegade_dieswhither_midtow.html

so it makes sense for us all who wish to continue to move there as well.

Posted by: DCC | August 23, 2007 4:16 PM

It's doesn't take a rocket scientist to ask why is someone in L.A. defending someone in D.C.?
Accusing and blaming parents of not doing their job? What is it that they are doing that parents are accused of not doing? Or may I ask what are they doing having to defend and lie to so many?
A closer look at a the Midtown, Pacifica, Big Book and Dog On the Roof groups should be looked at as there is a common denominator between them that separate from A.A.'s program and Traditions and not the self proclaimed sponsors in A.A.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2007 12:31 PM

I'd say with Q dead the problem should dissipate. I think the article doesn't exaggerate it its description of what was going on with some members of that group, in fact I think it sanitizes them.
Most of the people who associated with Q who were predatory were older men. This is not exclusive to Q's group, anytime you have a bunch of young people together, and then a group of dirty old men somehow in the mix, ahem...the fact that these young people are vulnerable and impressionable and desperate to remake lives they ruined with drug/alcohol abuse is what makes the whole thing so repugnant.

Who cares what the law is? The point is if AA wants to maintain some type of credibility this should be talked about. Cuz it's not just "midtown" or the Q's, it's a widespread phenomenon, if it's not kicked out of the closet more young alcoholics will have sexual predators to deal with without at least knowing that sort of thing is out there.

Not every AA member is an awesome good person. There are some bad people in AA too. That shouldn't be glossed over.

rip Mike, I hope your god is a forgiving god.

Posted by: shiki | August 31, 2007 2:50 PM

20 years ago I was 20 and the Q group was thriving at Midtown. At the time, there was much discussion regarding the traditions and simply put, it's an outside issue. What happened, happened outside of the meetings. Sure, the attendees were engaged in predatory behavior towards the newcomers but the fellowship is designed to trust that in time, these things will die. I am surprised it took 20 years though...most often, groups with iconic figures and group-will last for only a few years. It's an anonymous fellowship for a reason...any group that associates itself with a person's name..run far.

Posted by: ODAAT | September 4, 2007 11:38 AM

DCC and Jane D. are sadists and sexual deviants. There was a film made public about them a few years ago where they were shown doing vile things to a chicken.

Shame on you DCC and Jane D., Shame, Shame, that chicken was minding his own business.

Posted by: Yup | September 4, 2007 4:44 PM

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