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State may suspend license of therapist



The San Diego Union-Tribune

State regulators want to suspend or revoke the counseling license of a La Mesa psychotherapist they say coerced a raped child into falsely identifying her father as the attacker.

Kathleen King Goodfriend was "grossly negligent or incompetent" in her treatment of the child, Alicia Wade, according to a formal complaint filed by Sherry Mehl, executive officer of the state Board of Behavioral Science Examiners.

The complaint, made public yesterday, also alleges that Goodfriend "recklessly caused emotional or physical harm" to the girl and that she submitted false or fraudulent claims for payment in the case.

"Something needs to be done about her, she did some bad things," the girl's father, Jim Wade, said yesterday from his home in Missouri. "I hope they did a good job getting their stuff together and can make a good case."

Goodfriend did not return three phone calls from The Union-Tribune to her office yesterday seeking comment on the allegations.

The accusation opens another chapter in a six-year saga that ravaged the Wade family, sparked debate and reforms in the local child-welfare system and contributed to the election defeat last year of District Attorney Ed Miller.

It comes one month after Albert Carder, a convicted child molester known to authorities but dismissed initially as a suspect in the case, pleaded guilty to attacking Alicia Wade and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The complaint -- which also accuses Goodfriend of similar "unprofessional conduct" in her treatment of another girl who eventually accused her father of sexual abuse -- goes now to an administrative law judge for review and possible action.

The Wade girl was raped and sodomized in May 1989, when she was 8 years old. 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 that 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, a marriage, family and child counselor who had received her license from the state 20 months earlier.

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

That pressure, the accusation says, included keeping Alicia isolated from her family and telling her she would get to go home if she would identify her father as the attacker.

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

All this went on even though authorities knew that Carder had been arrested and convicted for 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 the spring of 1991, with both the criminal case against Jim Wade and the adoption of Alicia moving forward, semen stains that had been overlooked were discovered on the nightclothes the girl had been wearing the night she was attacked.

DNA testing proved conclusively that the father did not leave the semen. Additional testing implicated Carder as the rapist.

The charges against Wade were dropped in November 1991, and Alicia was returned home. The family moved to Missouri in 1992.

Last year, the family settled a multimillion-dollar civil suit filed against Goodfriend, social workers, detectives, prosecutors and others involved in the case. The family received about $3.7 million.

Of that total, $1 million came from Goodfriend, the largest amount paid by any single person.

The Wade family asked the state to investigate Goodfriend in 1991. She remained on a county list of therapists approved for referrals from Juvenile Court until last August, when her name was removed, a court spokeswoman said yesterday.

1995 Apr 21