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Rape-case therapist gives up license

Accused of coercing Wade girl's allegation against dad


The San Diego Union-Tribune

A La Mesa psychotherapist facing state disciplinary hearings has surrendered her counseling license amid allegations that she coerced an 8-year-old rape victim into falsely identifying her father as the attacker.

Kathleen King Goodfriend was accused by government regulators of being "grossly negligent or incompetent" in her treatment of the child, Alicia Wade, whose false identification led the girl to the brink of adoption, her father to jail and her mother to attempt suicide.

The full ramifications of the family's ordeal, in which authorities overlooked evidence and disregarded a suspect already convicted of attacking other girls in the neighborhood, are still being felt.

The case, which began in 1989, outraged the community, sparked reforms in the local child-welfare system and contributed to the defeat in November 1994 of longtime District Attorney Ed Miller.

Under an agreement that takes effect April 15, Goodfriend admits no wrongdoing, but she will no longer be allowed to practice as a marriage, family and child counselor in California.

"We're real happy about it, especially Alicia," said Jim Wade, the girl's father, in a phone interview from Missouri. "It's gratifying to know she won't be in a position to hurt anyone else now."

Goodfriend, in a written statement, said the decision to forfeit her license was made "with great sadness," and she added, "I continue to believe that I have done nothing wrong in my treatment of my patients."

She said the accusation against her was politically motivated and that she did not feel she would be treated fairly by the state's disciplinary system.

By law, Goodfriend could apply for a new license in three years. But in doing so, she would have to acknowledge that her treatment of the child was "unprofessional" and "recklessly caused emotional or physical harm" to Alicia, according to the agreement.

The state Board of Behavioral Science Examiners could then take those admissions into account in deciding whether to issue a license. "The burden would be on her to show that she is rehabilitated," said Susan Fitzgerald, a deputy state attorney general who prepared the case against the therapist.

Goodfriend surrendered her license on the eve of public disciplinary hearings on the state's formal accusation, which was filed last April, more than three years after the family asked regulators to investigate.

Under the agreement, those hearings -- which could have resulted in a revocation or suspension of her license -- have been canceled and the complaint against her dismissed.

Although regulators had looked forward to a full airing of the case against Goodfriend, they felt the settlement was merited, Fitzgerald said.

"This was an egregious case, but we think the result here is good," she added. "We are able to offer maximum protection for the public so that this doesn't happen to anyone else, and we didn't have to put Alicia through the trauma of testifying."

The girl was raped and sodomized in May 1989. She told police, social workers and a physician that a stranger reached in through a bedroom window at a Navy housing complex in Serra Mesa and carried her outside.

Authorities did not believe her story and focused instead on her father, a chief petty officer and 20-year Navy veteran.

Alicia was taken from her family and placed in foster care. She also was sent into therapy with Goodfriend.

In twice-weekly sessions with the therapist, Alicia stuck to her story for 13 months, despite "pressure" from Goodfriend to name her father, according to the state's accusation.

That pressure, the accusation said, included isolating Alicia from her family and telling her she would get to go home if she accused her dad.

Alicia finally did. Rather than return her, however, child-welfare workers recommended she be adopted by her foster parents. Jim Wade was arrested, charged and faced 16 years in prison. He borrowed more than $100,000 from his parents to pay his legal expenses. Alicia's mother, Denise Wade, attempted suicide.

All this occurred even though authorities knew that another man, Albert Raymond Carder Jr., had been convicted of attacking four other girls in the same neighborhood, at about the same time. In at least two of those cases, Carder entered the house through a bedroom window.

In spring 1991, with the criminal case against Jim Wade and the adoption moving forward, previously overlooked semen stains were discovered on clothes Alicia wore when she was attacked.

DNA testing proved that the father did not leave the semen. Charges against him were dropped in November 1991, and Alicia was returned home. The family moved to Missouri in 1992.

Additional DNA testing implicated Carder, and he pleaded guilty in March 1995 to the assault. Already in prison for 25 years for the other attacks, an additional 25 years was added to his sentence.

Two years ago, the Wade family settled a multimillion-dollar civil suit filed against Goodfriend, social workers, detectives, prosecutors and others involved in the case.

The settlement was about $3.7 million. Of that, $1 million came from Goodfriend.

1996 Mar 20