Convict charged in Wade rape case

Relates to:
Date: 1994-02-18

DA office now says it cleared victim's dad

JIM OKERBLOM
The San Diego Union-Tribune

The District Attorney's Office yesterday charged a convicted child molester with the 1989 rape of Alicia Wade, more than three years after her father was arrested and falsely charged with the crime.

District Attorney Ed Miller's office announced that it had filed two felony counts of forcible child molestation against Albert Raymond Carder Jr., 27, who has been linked to the crime by DNA and other evidence since 1991.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Michaels, who will prosecute Carder, said investigators last week located and spoke to key witnesses who had moved from San Diego. Michaels also said recent additional DNA testing on sperm found on Alicia's clothing narrowed the odds that anyone but Carder could have committed the assault.

Previous DNA tests determined that Carder was among one in 80,000 people who could have produced the sperm found on the clothing. A source familiar with the case said new DNA tests show a probability that is "considerably higher."

"We have been able to complete all of the investigation that we wanted to do to be certain that it was the right thing to do," Michaels said about the decision to charge Carder, who is serving a 25-year term in state prison for assaults in Alicia's former Serra Mesa neighborhood.

The announcement came one day after Miller announced plans to seek re-election in June. Although the controversial case and an ongoing lawsuit seemed likely to become issues in the campaign, and prosecutors have been criticized for not charging Carder, Michaels said the election had no bearing on the decision.

But a characterization in a district attorney's press release of how Alicia's father, Jim, was cleared drew criticism from others familiar with the case.

After an 18-month investigation, the press release says, "Mr. Wade was cleared on the eve of trial by DNA testing, as the result of a prosecutor's careful trial preparation."

The release says: "Readying his evidence, Deputy District Attorney David Rubin requested a final review of the girl's clothing to determine whether there were enough body fluid stains to complete a DNA test. The resulting DNA tests exonerated Wade."

Charges were dismissed, the release says.

Michaels defended the description as accurate, saying one DNA expert cited Rubin as "the hero" of the case. Rubin said he could not comment because of a pending lawsuit.

"That's not how I remember it," Jim Wade said from his home in Missouri.

Said Milton Silverman Jr., Wade's attorney: "It is a bald-faced lie, absolute, unadulterated balderdash."

Silverman is seeking millions in damages in a civil suit against the District Attorney's Office and others involved in the case.

"Tune in for the trial on June 3, when the Wades will finally be able to tell the truth about what happened," he said.

Silverman said he could not comment further because of a confidentiality order, but he said he will ask Superior Court Judge Judith Haller today for permission to comment. The San Diego Union-Tribune is seeking access to records in the suit.

Michael McGlinn, who was Wade's defense attorney, said that within a few days of beginning his investigation -- even without DNA evidence -- it became clear to him that prosecutors all along should have been looking at Carder, not Wade, as the attacker.

"We immediately started seeking the evidence to have it tested," McGlinn said. "But for our investigative efforts, and putting the pressure on the prosecutor's office -- they were either going to have to retest this stuff or give it us to let us test -- it wouldn't have happened."

After Jim Wade, a 20-year Navy veteran, was required to give blood for a second DNA test, prosecutors opposed a motion filed by McGlinn for a factual finding of innocence.

After Superior Court Judge Frederic Link granted that motion, Deputy District Attorney Kathy told reporters outside the courtroom that her office was not saying Wade was innocent.

"We are convinced there is not enough evidence to prove Jim Wade guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Stephenson said.

Michaels said yesterday that the District Attorney's Office is certain of Wade's innocence and intends to convict Carder.

Alicia Wade, then 8, was raped and sodomized the night of May 8, 1989, while living in Cabrillo Heights, a Navy complex in Serra Mesa. Her parents took her to a Navy hospital that morning, and she later told a doctor, police, social workers and others that a man had lifted her out her bedroom window, hurt her and brought her back.

But authorities refused to believe her story and put her in foster care, where she remained for 2 1/2 years during which she was nearly adopted.

One month after the rape, Carder, who was then a convicted child molester and admitted methamphetamine abuser out on parole, was arrested by San Diego police on charges of molesting three children who lived within a two-block radius of the Wades' apartment. In one instance, the molester climbed through a child's bedroom window; in another, he was found in a closet.

A year after being convicted of those charges, Carder was brought out of prison and convicted of a fourth attack on the basis of DNA obtained from sperm. In that case -- which occurred five days after Alicia was raped -- the attacker removed a 4-year-old girl from her bedroom in another Navy housing complex while her mother slept next to her.

All of Carder's cases were prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney E. Jane Via, who later transferred to the County Counsel's Office and handled a Juvenile Court case against the Wade family.

After 13 months of therapy with counselor Kathleen Goodfriend, Alicia changed her story and identified her father as her attacker. Goodfriend is under investigation by a state licensing agency for her role in the Wade case.

Jim Wade was arrested and charged with the assault on his daughter. During his preliminary hearing, prosecutor Rubin said there was only a "superficial similarity" between Carder's attacks and the one on Alicia.

As the case was about to go to trial, testing ordered by Rubin found sperm on Alicia's panties that had been overlooked. Testing cleared her father and focused on Carder.

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