Peter D’Abrosca recently charted the “quiet epidemic of judicial child trafficking in America,” based on a bogus therapy that subjects people to “an utter almost incomprehensible hell.”
That was also the experience of a U.S. Navy family, as I described in “PC Kidnappers” in the January 1993 issue of Heterodoxy.
On the morning of May 9, 1989, eight-year-old Alicia Wade awoke complaining of pain deep in her midsection. Her father, 37-year-old Navy enlisted man James Wade, and her mother, Denise, took the girl to the NAVCARE facility in San Diego, where initially she either couldn’t or wouldn’t explain what happened. The doctor found that the child’s anal and vaginal regions had been torn in a sexual attack and would need to be surgically repaired. When informed of this, both parents showed great distress and began to weep uncontrollably. The NAVCARE doctor immediately called the local Child Protection Services.
CPS immediately suspected family involvement for two reasons: the rapist, they believed, had not removed the child from her room, and Alicia did not immediately complain of pain. The CPS worker interpreted the hours the Wades had spent at NAVCARE as a delay in reporting the crime and thus an additional sign of guilt.
The Red Flag That Is the Nuclear Family
Though shaken by what had happened to their daughter and also by the hints of accusation they felt coming from authorities, the Wades cooperated fully in an interview with CPS. They could not hide the fact that they were overweight, which child welfare authorities often take as evidence of general neglect. They did not hide the fact that Denise Wade had been molested as a child and that James was a recovering alcoholic who twice blacked out while drinking in foreign ports. They did not know that they were waving “red flags” that further substantiated suspicions of family involvement in the crime. They had no idea that authorities were already beginning to build a case against them and were taking particular aim at James Wade, who was a walking bull’s-eye because he was a white, middle-aged male and a serviceman in addition to his other defects.
The Wades were more interested in the facts. During an evidentiary exam at the Center for Child Protection, their daughter calmly told the physician that a man came through the window, claimed to be her “uncle,” took her out in a green car and “hurt” her. They would have had a better notion of the ordeal ahead of them if they had known that on the space on the medical form for “chief complaint in the child’s own words,” the examining doctor simply ignored Alicia’s testimony and wrote only that the child showed “total denial.”
Alicia provided a detailed description of the attacker’s clothing, the color of his hair and eyes, and even describing a pimple on his face. James Wade, a genial Missourian, cooperated fully with the police, who collected evidence, including smeared fingerprints and a partial footprint outside Alicia’s window. Wade submitted to a polygraph and a “rape test kit,” which included a semen sample. He did not know enough about the murky legal realm he had entered to request that the sample be compared to Alicia’s semen-stained panties, which police seized, but did not examine.
After a long interrogation and numerous accusations by the police, James Wade said, “You’re so sure I did it, but if I did it, I sure don’t remember it.” Child-welfare workers, who soon began to direct the examination of the Wades, repeatedly lifted this line from its context and construed it as an admission of guilt, not an expression of frustration, shock, or anger. They were not interested in the fact that four of Alicia’s friends who lived within a four-block area of the Wade home had also recently been sexually attacked and that, in each case, the attacker had entered through a bedroom window. Five days after the rape of Alicia, in another Navy housing project, 5-year-old Nicole S. was abducted through a window and attacked. Some two weeks after the attack on Alicia, police confirmed that someone attempted to break through the bedroom window of the Wades’ 6-year-old son, Joshua.
All these episodes notwithstanding, James Wade was the prime suspect in the rape of his daughter.
While Alicia was being prepared for surgery, guards forcibly removed Denise Wade from the hospital. The surgeon was outraged that the mother was not present. Alicia was crying for her parents, but investigators from the Department of Social Services forbade the parents to speak to her. In spite of a request by the Wades, no one explained what was happening to the girl, whom social workers packed off to a therapist and placed in a foster home. In the argot of the child-abuse industry, what had happened to the Wades is called a “parentectomy.”
At this point, the Wades were unaware that their ordeal was part of a national syndrome that began in the 1970s with Walter Mondale’s Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and has gained momentum in the last few years with the proliferation of feminist ideologies about the evils of patriarchy and politically correct thinking about the nuclear family as a locus classicus of sexual oppression and violence.
Fueled by state monies, the child protection system has grown to immense proportions, like the monster Woody Allen describes in “Sleeper” with “the body of a crab and the head of a social worker.”
In Wounded Innocents: The Real Victims of the War Against Child Abuse, Richard Wexler examines the national child protection system and documents a number of horror stories. Parents have been charged with child abuse for being late to pick up their children at school, letting them eat breakfast at McDonald’s too often, or for not letting them watch television after 7:30 p.m. In this Wonderland world, the operant principles have less to do with the Constitution than with the maxim of Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s chief of the NKVD: “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.”
Wexler shows how the statistics asserting the existence of a national epidemic of child abuse are based on reported cases in which some 60 percent are bogus, amounting to 1 million false accusations every year, nationwide. In the police-state atmosphere of child protection, informers remain anonymous, and the accused remains branded with a scarlet “A” even after having been cleared of wrongdoing. It is a system rife with abuses and filled with the arrogance of power, yet the child police continue to assure us that child abuse is an “American tradition” for which the only remedy is massive, aggressive intervention by the state.
The case of the Wade family fully magnified all the intrinsic defects of the system. The following account is based on original interviews with the victims, public officials, and some press accounts from an excellent investigative series in the San Diego Union. Its primary source, however, is a number of highly detailed reports by the San Diego County Grand Jury, which had been investigating the child protection system since 1988. All told, the grand jury heard testimony from hundreds of witnesses from all areas of the system: the judiciary (superior court and court of appeals), defense bar, appellate bar, public defenders, family court, Center for Child Protection, the district attorney, and a number of victims. The jurors also spent many days observing court proceedings, visiting “receiving homes” for children, and attending Juvenile Justice Commission meetings. The jury also received testimony from some social workers who wanted to blow the whistle on corruption. Such workers had to testify without notifying their superiors, lest they suffer retaliation.
One institution in which the Wades found themselves enmeshed was San Diego’s Center for Child Protection. The director was Dr. David Chadwick, who had been described in the local press as a “definitive zealot” for a system ruled by politically correct thinking. Chadwick, who died in 2020, once told a state legislative committee that his organization performed evidentiary examinations, not in a disinterested search for the facts, but in order to “prove abuse.” Reporters at the San Diego Union-Tribune found a number of instances where Chadwick’s center “diagnosed molestation when other medical authorities insisted there wasn’t any.”
Through Chadwick’s agency, the Wades learned the concept of “denial.” In denying that James Wade had raped his daughter, the couple was seen not as asserting innocence that could be adjudicated by a review of the facts, but rather as being “in denial.” And “denial,” as the grand jury noted, is taken by the system as evidence of guilt, a tactic the child police share with the KGB and other professional witch-hunters.
“Denial” is the child protection system’s version of perpetual motion, an incantation that makes the presumption of innocence disappear. Richard Wexler records the following classic exchange between a caseworker and a woman named Susan Gabriel, whose husband Clark had been accused of molestation:
Caseworker: We know your husband is guilty, you’ve got to force him into admitting it.
Gabriel: How do you know he is guilty?
Caseworker: We know he’s guilty because he says he’s innocent. Guilty people always say they’re innocent.
Gabriel: What do innocent people say?
Caseworker: We’re not in the business of guilt or innocence, we’re in the business of putting families back together.
Gabriel: So why not do that with us?
Caseworker: Because Clark won’t admit his guilt.
If, as was the case with Denise Wade, the wife should be so stubborn as to support her accused husband, she is adjudged to be codependent and “accommodating the denial.” And if the child denies the charge, this is considered merely part of the “child-abuse protection syndrome.”
As the Grand Jury later reported, Alicia Wade’s only “denial” was that her father was the attacker. The possibility that Alicia was telling the truth and that James was innocent never entered the minds of the child police.
Once enrolled in the Kafkaesque Center for Child Protection, the Wades soon found themselves in the hands of social workers. Most members of the profession (about 70 percent in San Diego) are female and, according to both victims and longtime observers of the system, many come to the job seeing themselves as liberators, rescuing the innocent from an oppressive, male-dominated dungeon known as the traditional nuclear family.
Social workers are not required to record their interviews, and their statements, often used in court, frequently include hearsay evidence and are not delivered under penalty of perjury. After sifting through mountains of evidence, the grand jury found that social workers “lie routinely, even when under oath.” And there were “numerous instances” in which social workers disobeyed court orders. Everything is tilted to the advantage of the social worker. They simultaneously acquire evidence for the prosecution and “provide services” to the family of the accused (for which the accused end up partially or fully footing the bill). Families enter the process eager to cooperate, but are soon horrified to find their statements distorted, taken out of context, and used against them.
In the Wades’ case, for example, a social worker told the couple early on that if they showed any emotion—under the circumstances, a perfectly natural response—they would not be allowed contact with the child. When they complied, the same social worker then accused them of being “unconcerned” about their daughter, using this allegation in court.
Jim Wade found himself “horrified by the absolute power over the lives and freedoms of an individual American that these individuals are allowed to exercise.” None of the DSS reports about the Wade family included anything positive. They did not mention that Wade’s drinking was not a source of problems, and that he had not been drinking the day of the attack. There was no reference to his Navy record, which, except for his weight problem, was described as “superb.” Reports also ignored Denise Wade’s daycare business, which ran with no problems, and no one bothered to interview the parents of the children she cared for. Reports further failed to mention that Alicia was an A student who had just been named “Student of the Month” at her grammar school. There was no mention of family participation in community and church activities.
In a videotaped interview, Alicia was asked with whom she would feel most safe. “My mom, dad, and brother,” she answered. The transcript of the tape, however, chopped the reference to the father. A child-protection official later acknowledged that he never bothered to review the video.
Follow the Money
Feminist clichés and anti-family zealotry are not the only forces that drive this system. Here, as in political abuses, the Watergate rule applies: follow the money.
Therapists who fail to back up the social worker’s allegations can quickly find themselves cut out of lucrative court referrals. And referrals applying to military families are particularly lucrative, because they are backed by the fathomless funds of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS). San Diego County paid court-appointed therapists $40 an hour in 1989, but CHAMPUS paid nearly double: $78.60 for 45 minutes of psychotherapy. The Wades went to therapy twice a week.
Alicia’s therapist was Kathleen Goodfriend of the La Mesa Village Counseling Group, who worked on the case entirely without supervision. Like the social workers now pawing through the Wades’ lives, Goodfriend ignored the evidence and assumed more or less automatically that Jim Wade had been the attacker, although his daughter continued staunchly to deny this in their sessions. Receiving more than $11,000 in state money for this case alone (just over $26,000 today), Goodfriend began relentlessly to brainwash Alicia Wade, now totally isolated from her family, pressuring her into naming an “acceptable perpetrator.” That is, her father.
The grand jury eventually subpoenaed Goodfriend’s notes, which contained many comments about how Alicia “liked” her therapist. But Alicia’s own testimony makes it clear that the child wanted only to go home. The grand jury was also alarmed that Goodfriend taught the child about masturbation “without any parental input or apparent interest by the child.”
While Goodfriend worked on Alicia’s mind, the Wades’ social workers were working on her future. They rejected Alicia’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, the pastor of the family church and the father’s attorney as possible custodians for Alicia because of their “allegiance with the parents.” One social worker told Alicia’s grandmother not even to waste her time coming to San Diego because her son James was guilty of raping Alicia, who would not be coming home to anyone in the family. Instead, they were sticking the girl in a foster home, and the social worker and Goodfriend would be controlling all access to it.
Children are put into foster homes as quickly as possible because that act opens the floodgates of federal funds. Foster parents in 1989 received $484 a month for a child from ages 5 to 18, almost twice the amount a welfare mother received at the time for her own offspring. Special care cases brought up to $1,000 a month. And all funds were tax-free. Some foster parents were concerned and caring, but others were entrepreneurs in what the grand jury called “the baby-brokering business.” They depended on the goodwill of social workers to get and keep the little human beings who keep the government checks coming.
Alicia Wade’s second foster mother—for unexplained reasons, the girl was traumatically removed from the first foster family where she was placed—believed her story about a man coming through her window. She sought to testify that the child not only had no fear of her father, but desperately wanted to return home. This outraged social workers, who promptly yanked Alicia from that home and reported an “infraction” to the foster care licensing department. The social workers then placed Alicia in a third home. This one had a difference: the foster parents were trying to adopt a child through the “fast track” program. Alicia was offered as an obvious candidate.
The Wades knew they were in a hostage situation. To get their child back, they had to fully cooperate with accusatory bureaucrats who assumed their guilt from the start. James Wade willingly submitted to polygraph tests. One of these was inconclusive; he passed two others, and the examiner found no intent to deceive. Then there were some 700 questions to get through, part of a battery of tests that included the Thorne Sex Inventory, the Multiphasic Sex Inventory, the Sexual Attitude Scale, the Sexual Opinion Survey, and the Contact Comfort Scale. Here are some of the 300 “true and false” questions:
“I have occasionally had sex with an animal.”
“I get more excitement and thrill out of hurting a person than I do from the sex itself.”
“I have become sexually stimulated while feeling or smelling a woman’s underwear.”
“I have masturbated while making an obscene phone call.”
“Younger women have tighter vaginas than older women.”
“Sometimes I have not been able to stop myself from fondling one or more of the children in my family.”
And then, near the end, a light touch:
“I have fantasized about killing someone during sex.”
Virtually all men accused of child abuse in San Diego at that time were forced to endure a stretch on the penile plethysmograph, later found “extraordinarily invasive” in 2013 by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan. In this procedure, a therapist places the accused in a booth and shows him how to wire his penis to a mercury strain gauge. Then the therapist lowers the lights and starts a procession of erotica that can include child pornography, all the while watching dials that measure erection. During the video portion of the test, the operator stops the pictures, asks the subject how he feels, and waits until his organ “hits baseline” before continuing. (A San Diego social worker who administers the test has composed kiddy-porn audio tracks, with vignettes of fathers performing oral sex on their daughters.) At the conclusion of the test, the machine spits out a “phallometric score.”
Operating a penile plethysmograph is also a lucrative business, with some therapists charging $1,000 per session in the early 1990s. Those backed by military insurance find themselves booked for more sessions than others. One tester claimed to be able to use the device to provide “orgasmic reconditioning” to help the subject “learn to become sexually responsible.” He tried to talk the Navy into letting him treat the Tailhook offenders.
Penile measurements are part of an inquisition that differs from the Salem witch hunts and the Moscow show trials in that the accused must pay cash upfront for the dubious privilege of being so degraded. The Wades found themselves required to accept all kinds of “services,” such as counseling, therapy, parenting classes, and “abusers groups.” Though taxpayers shoulder much of the cost, the system bills many of the charges back to the family through a scheme called “Revenue and Recovery.” The out-of-pocket costs to the Wades, before being billed for foster care, topped $260,000 (more than $560,000 in current dollars)—not the kind of spare change a Navy man keeps around. Some accused have insurance and some don’t.
Once stuck in the court system, moreover, the Wades found themselves at a constant disadvantage in trying to establish their innocence. Unlike the prosecution, they had no money to pay for “expert” witnesses. (Jim Wade later pegged his legal fees at $125,000, and his insurance did not cover these costs.) When the Wades realized the deep anti-family animus of the system, they struck a plea bargain by pleading no-contest to a charge of “neglect,” part of a deal that would eventually return their daughter home.
But after the bargain was struck, the county said that, based on the recommendations of Kathleen Goodfriend, Alicia would not be returning home.
The Wades’ attorneys argued that the parents should have moved to have the plea overturned and requested a jurisdictional trial. The DSS countered that if they tried that tactic, the DSS would also seize their son Joshua and put their family “further behind the eight ball.” This threat constituted an offer the Wades couldn’t refuse.
Later on, as part of its review of the Wade case, the grand jury found that the entire juvenile system was characterized by “confidential files, closed courts, gag orders and statutory immunity” and had “isolated itself to a degree unprecedented in our system of jurisprudence and ordered liberties.”
Said former court referee William Burns: “Any time you have secrecy you have the seeds of corruption . . . the people who are behind closed doors can do any damn thing they want. And in juvenile court, they do.” Evidence contrary to the system’s position, the grand jury found, is “either excluded or ignored” and more than 98 percent of the system’s petitions are granted. (During proceedings in the case at hand, for instance, the prosecution objected to Alicia’s own detailed description of her attacker as “hearsay” and the court sustained the objection.)
From October 1989 until June 1990, Alicia had no contact with her parents. While the court proceedings dragged on, devastating the Wades financially and emotionally, social workers determined that Alicia was “adoptable” and that a parental rights termination hearing was appropriate.
All this time, the eager Kathleen Goodfriend was still interrogating Alicia. One of her therapeutic tactics was to say that she knew the father was the attacker, and that it was therefore “OK to tell.” But the child persisted in her detailed story about the intruder. Alicia continued to speak positively about her father, saying, “I love my parents and I want to see them.” As the date for a 12-month hearing approached, Goodfriend stepped up her efforts, setting up a kind of tag-team system by ordering the foster mother also to pressure the child to “disclose.”
Thirteen months of isolation and brainwashing eventually took their toll. In late June 1990, the 9-year-old girl succumbed. At a hearing later on, she said she couldn’t hold out any longer. The record makes it clear that she did this to get the therapist off her back.
After the “disclosure,” all questioning of Alicia stopped. Goodfriend’s “therapy” had achieved its goal. The foster parents immediately whisked Alicia away on a month-long trip to Disney World, an obvious reward for delivering the goods on her parents, as well as a diversion to keep her from recanting. At this point, Denise Wade, whose social worker had been pressuring her to leave her husband, had to be hospitalized to prevent suicide.
In December 1990, James Wade was finally formally arrested on the charge of raping his daughter and found himself staring down the barrel of a 16-year prison term. The Torquemada in his inquisition would be Deputy County Counsel E. Jane Via, whose legal philosophy was summarized in the comment, made in another court case: “Just because we can’t find evidence that this man molested that child doesn’t mean that he is not guilty.”
Via had perfected one of the child abuse system’s key strategies: winning by attrition. Her collaborators in social services farmed out the children she was trying to extricate from their families to pet foster parents, and delayed “reunification” until the child “bonded” with the new parents. Then they use this testimony, backed by testimony from friendly therapists, to block family reunification and justify adoption. According to one investigator, the child police tell foster parents to take the children on long and frequent vacations. Then they turn around and accuse the natural parents of not seeing their children enough. It was Via who tried to justify removing Alicia’s brother Joshua from the Wade home.
Via’s zealous pursuit of James Wade involved an irony that soon acquired crushing weight. Before handling the Wade case, Via was the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the man authorities now believe was the one who assaulted Alicia. Via was thus fully aware that Albert Raymond Carder had been molesting girls in the Wades’ neighborhood, and that his modus operandi involved entering through a window, committing the crime, and leaving without a trace. In the case of Nicole S., attacked five days after Alicia, the attacker drove a white truck, which was not consistent with Alicia’s testimony about a green car. But it emerged that at the time of the attack, Carder did, in fact, drive a green car, which he reported stolen not long afterward. The stolen car report was never given to the detectives, who apparently never ran a vehicle check on Carder.
Via ordered blood samples to be taken from Carder, whom she eventually tried and convicted. But later, when Via transferred to the office of the county counsel and began to prosecute James Wade, she denied that she had ordered these blood samples and that there could be any connection between the cases of Nicole and Alicia Wade. The jury found Via’s actions incomprehensible and recommended that the state investigate her for possible conflict of interest and ethics violations.
In the pretrial maneuvering, police finally examined Alicia’s semen-stained panties two years after the attack and determined that they could be tested. It took months for DNA tests to be completed, but they finally confirmed that James Wade could not have been the man who attacked Alicia. It was a clear exoneration, but the district attorney’s office, where Via had previously worked, ordered that the tests be repeated, and the DSS continued to prohibit contact between father and daughter.
Convicted sex offender Albert Raymond Carder, on the other hand, was in the five percent of the population whose genetic profile matched that of the stains. His shoe size matched the print taken outside Alicia’s window. But even this powerful evidence was not enough. Once the child police could no longer deny third-party responsibility for the attack, the system marshaled its considerable resources to ensure that, however strong the evidence of Jim Wade’s innocence, Alicia still did not return to her family.
The grand jury later identified a “race against time to arrange for Alicia’s adoption prior to the availability of the DNA results.” When the result of the evidence was known, Jane Via strenuously resisted a defense motion to delay a hearing that would terminate the Wades’ parental rights. Cooperating with Via, court referee Yuri Hoffman showed himself willing to have Alicia adopted even when James Wade’s innocence had been established.
In November 1991, two-and-a-half years after the ordeal began, the district attorney’s office dropped the rape charges against James Wade. Then Judge Frederic Link issued a rare “true finding of innocence” for the embattled Navy man, which prosecutor Cathy Stevenson unsuccessfully opposed in court. Wade petitioned the court to have the original neglect charge, which had been part of his desperate plea bargain, set aside to clear his name and free the way for Alicia’s return. Wade said that the declaration of innocence was like getting out of jail.
But his troubles were not over.
A System Designed to Foster Problems
As a result of his ordeal, Wade had become an outcast in the community and so had Alicia’s brother Joshua, one neighbor having forbidden his children to play with “the son of a pervert.” There were what Wade later described as “sleepless nights, accusatory stares, the unending tears, the strain on our family, the doubts planted in the minds of our friends.” The legal fees, he said, “robbed me and my parents of our life savings.” And, of course, there was the absence of their daughter during a crucial, formative period in her life.
But politically correct Jane Via did not believe that the Wades had suffered enough. Via argued that the finding of innocence for the parents “didn’t matter” because the original petition was not sexual molestation but neglect, which still provided sufficient grounds for Alicia’s adoption. The Wades appealed to the grand jury for help, and it was only through its 11th-hour intervention that Alicia escaped being adopted away forever.
On November 23, Alicia Wade was reunited with her family. The system that purportedly operated in her best interest returned the girl home using a medicine to which she was allergic, without the glasses she wore when she was taken from her parents and with no record of an optometrist’s checkup. Two days later, on Thanksgiving Day, Alicia turned 11.
The grand jury found that the Wade case, which it said did not even need to be in the system, was far from unusual. In the San Diego area alone, the grand jurors found 300 cases with similar elements. No system could be without errors and mistakes, but the jury was disturbed by the fact that rather than attempting to correct these problems, “the system appears designed to create or foster them, to leave them untested and uncorrected, and ultimately to deny or excuse them, all in the name of child protection.” The jurors described the system as out of control, with no checks and balances.
Faced with the overwhelming weight of the evidence, several agencies the grand jury criticized, including the DSS, admitted the problems and began to undertake reforms, including an emphasis on family reunification.
The D.A.’s office was another matter.
San Diego District Attorney Edwin Miller was a board member of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation. The former head of the D.A.’s child abuse unit, Harry Elias, was later appointed a superior court judge. Elias is married to Kee McFarlane, whose interviews with children were the basis for the infamous McMartin preschool molestation case, the longest and costliest trial in American history. Miller’s office justified its handling of the Wade case and defended the vindictive Jane Via, but at least admitted that “mistakes had been made.” On the other hand, County Counsel Lloyd Harmon, Via’s other boss, admitted no misconduct, nor even the possibility of injustice. Harmon’s response to the grand jury, incredibly enough, maintained that the Wade case “was handled in a thorough and professional manner and with due concern for the rights and interests of all parties.”
While the child police circled their wagons, the Wade family languished in debt and tried to deal with the emotional fallout. Yet, except for court referee Yuri Hoffman, none of those who had attempted to ruin the Wades’ lives stepped forward to apologize. No form of compensation was offered—that would come after later litigation.
In December 1992, more sophisticated DNA testing found a 100 percent match between the blood of convicted molester Albert Raymond Carder and genetic markers in the semen evidence in the Wade case. In February 1994, the D.A.’s office finally filed two counts of forcible child molestation against Carder, who was already serving 25 years on a separate conviction. A jury found him guilty of raping Alicia and sentenced him to another 25 years. He would also plead guilty to similar assaults on five young girls, some in the Wades’ neighborhood, during the same period.
And as far as can be determined, with one notable exception, no one was fired or even severely disciplined over the Wade case.
For Jane Via, it was more business as usual. The tragedy of James Wade appeared not to have altered her attitude or procedures one whit. In November 1992, Via represented the DSS in the case of Gavin O’Hara, whose daughter had been seized by a social worker and placed in the care of the social worker’s sister. O’Hara had been told that his being a Mormon and presumptive believer in patriarchy made it more likely that he would abuse the child. The social worker and her sister, testimony showed, had discussed taking the girl from him before she was even born. When Yuri Hoffman awarded custody to the natural father, Via went ballistic and petitioned for a new hearing based on the therapist’s belief that the child was suffering “separation anxiety.” It was the old attrition game that she had played with James Wade, but this time the court was having none of it. Judge Richard Huffman said that a “dumb system” had “brutalized” a child and sarcastically put Via down, to the undisguised delight of people in the courtroom.
In a strange but perhaps unsurprising turn, Via was ordained a deacon in the Roman Catholic Womenpriest movement in 2004, a priest in 2006, and a bishop in 2017. Via converted to Catholicism as a young woman but took issue with church policy on abortion and “chafed at its policies.” In 2007, the New York Times profiled Via in “A Place at the Altar,” noting that she was a deputy district attorney in San Diego. In 2008, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of California, San Diego, hosted Via, founder of the Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community, as part of their distinguished lecture series.
The institute’s Dan Dinan described Via as “a revolutionary,” comparable to George Washington, Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks, but there was more to the distinguished lecturer. She was still a deputy district attorney in San Diego. In 2014, Oprah.com profiled Via, then 67, in “From Prosecutor to Pastor.”
It was her law career, Via said, that prepared her to take on the church. “Someone who can prepare and defend a case,” Via told Oprah.com, “that’s the kind of woman this movement needs.” No word of her role in the Wade case, falsely accusing a man of raping his own daughter, despite DNA evidence to the contrary, or the attempt to have Alicia adopted away from her own family.
As for Kathleen Goodfriend, it would seem that brainwashing a child for more than a year to get her to accuse her father of a crime would at least disqualify someone from getting court referrals in the immediate aftermath of Wade’s ordeal. But juvenile court continued to provide Goodfriend with a steady supply of lucrative clients for a few years before she surrendered her license in 1996 in the face of a state disciplinary hearing into her conduct in the Wade case. Prior to that happy outcome, when asked if Goodfriend’s performance in the Wade case might merit some kind of censure, the official response was that a therapist was “innocent until proven guilty”—precisely the presumption that had been denied to the Wades.
Jim Wade retired from the Navy in May 1992 and moved his family to his parents’ farm in Missouri. The Wades filed a lawsuit against San Diego County and eventually obtained a $3.7 million settlement. Goodfriend was held personally liable for $1 million. “I just want to be able to pay my parents back the money they gave me to fight this thing,” Wade said at the time. Slow to anger, Wade nonetheless would tell anyone who asks that he believes the child protection system is filled with “pimps and parasites living off the miseries of others.”
Wade’s ordeal was dramatic, but don’t check the listings for a movie of the week. The story was optioned and shopped around Hollywood, but there were no takers. “The reason the networks turned it down,” said Wade, “was that they didn’t want to show anyone getting off [a child abuse charge]. They got the wrong message, because that isn’t what it was about.”
In the immediate aftermath of the case, Wade took up a mission of warning others about the system. He appeared on the “Larry King Show” and other programs, but he cited the op-ed piece he wrote for the San Diego Union-Tribune, right after his family was reunited, as best representing what he wants to say: “Take heed, citizens of San Diego and all Americans. There is a creature running amok in your midst which can steal your children, your financial future, and, very possibly, your personal freedom, as it did mine.”
It’s hard to find anything about Jim Wade on the internet these days, and that’s probably how he wants it. The Navy vet would not be surprised at the current epidemic of judicial child trafficking. The same jihad of junk thought that threatened Wade’s family is very much on the march in 2022.
A final note: Heterodoxy is now Frontpage Magazine, part of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. “PC Kidnappers” and other Heterodoxy essays are available in Bill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield, with a foreword by Peter Collier, co-founder of the Freedom Center and co-author with David Horowitz on several best-selling biographies. Peter Collier passed away in 2019.