You are on page 1of 70


A Report by the
1991-92 San Diego County Grand Jury
June 23, 1992

(A Report by the 1991-92 San Diego County Grand Jury)


Sometime during the night of May 8, 1989, an eight year old

child was removed from her home, brutally raped, and sodomized.
Two and a half years later her family requested assistance from
the County Grand Jury to stop a pending termination of parental
rights. This report is the story of the nightmare endured by
this child and her family during the two and a half years they
spent in the San Diego County juvenile dependency system.

With the assistance of the Attorney General's office, the

San Diego County Grand Jury conducted a civil watchdog hearing
into the case of Alicia W. as part of a broad study of the
juvenile dependency system and its components. The facts of this
case are reported in considerable detail, in order to illustrate
the inherent bias of the system and its inability to detect or
correct errors within its components. These errors were
numerous. They were errors of omission and commission, made by
the social workers, physicians, police investigators,
criminalists, prosecutors, court appointed therapists, attorneys,
and judicial officers, as well as others connected to this case.

In late October, the Jury received a citizen's complaint

which led to the examination of the Alicia W. case. (APPENDIX A)
The District Attorney was then in the process of prosecuting the
father, and County Counsel was still involved in the dependency
case in Juvenile Court. There were allegations of wrongdoing by
the initial Deputy District Attorney on the case, as well as the
Deputy County Counsel. In order to avoid a conflict of interest
or the appearance of a conflict of interest on the part of the
District Attorney, the Grand Jury requested counsel from the
Attorney General's office in the pursuit of the inquiry. In
response, the Jury was provided the assistance of a Deputy
Attorney General.

The Jury subpoenaed documents from the Department of Social

Services, the Center for the Protection of Children, County
Counsel, the private therapist in the case, Naval Investigative
Services, the San Diego Police Department, the District Attorney,
Children's Hospital, and Voices for Children. The Jury had
already reviewed the Juvenile Court file extensively. Witnesses
were subpoenaed and testified.

By the time the Grand Jury became aware of this case, it had
been in the Juvenile Court for more than two and a half years.
The case of Alicia W. was unique in two significant aspects.

First, there was physical evidence to prove that the father did
not rape his daughter, and second, there was physical evidence
which clearly implicated a stranger to the family did. (After
the Grand Jury became aware of this case, the criminal court
handed down a finding of true innocence.) Despite the existence
of new evidence, the Department of Social Services, through its
counsel, the Deputy County Counsel, fought efforts to delay the
hearing which would terminate the parental rights of Alicia W.'s
mother and father. The Juvenile Court had already refused on two
occasions to grant such a continuance while new evidence was
being tested.

Counsel for the father attempted to speak with the Director

of the Bureau and was referred to Adoptions. He hand-carried
documents regarding the innocence of his client to the Manager of
Adoptions. Five days later, he discovered that they were still
unread. All attempts to get a continuance on the parental rights
termination hearing were denied.

The Jury initially spoke with the Deputy Director of the

Department of Social Services. She was asked if she would
intervene in a case in which an injustice had occurred. She
assured the Jury she would. With the permission of the parents
and counsel, she was given the information the Jury had on the
case. Within a day she was able to confirm this information, and
within three days the Department returned to court and stipulated
to vacating the termination of the parental rights hearing, and
further allowing Alicia's mother unsupervised visitation, the
father visitation in therapy, an immediate change of therapists,
and a reunification plan to proceed with all due haste.

It is the Jury's belief that the Deputy Director responded

rapidly, out of a legitimate desire to right an injustice, and
for this the Jury commends her efforts. Unfortunately, this was
the first, last, and only reasonable response received by Alicia
W.'s family in the years they were caught in the system. They
received no official apology, no offer to repay the vast sums
incurred which had bankrupted the entire extended family, and no
recognition of the devastation in their personal lives. They did
receive a phone call from one member of the Board of Supervisors,
who expressed her personal apologies and sympathies. (The
referee who ultimately granted the dismissal of the petition in
Juvenile Court expressed his apologies to the family in the final
hearing as did minor's counsel.)

From examination of the evidence, it is clear that County

Counsel continued to push for termination of the Alicia W. family
unit, in spite of the evidence showing the innocence of her
parents. Even after Alicia had been returned to her home and the
criminal court issued a finding of "factual innocence", the
Deputy County Counsel assigned not only vigorously defended her
position, but severely criticized the Grand Jury for interfering

and the leadership in the Department of Social Services for
responding. County Counsel saw no reason why there needed to be
any hurry to return this child to her family. Months later the
Deputy County Counsel assigned to this case offered many
scenarios for how the father "could" have been involved and
refused to acknowledge outright evidence of the innocence of
Alicia's parents.

Ironically, the Deputy County Counsel who handled the Alicia

W. dependency proceeding was the same Deputy District Attorney
who prosecuted the man who most likely assaulted Alicia. In July
of 1989, this attorney, in her role as Deputy District Attorney,
filed a declaration requesting the blood sample of a man who was
in custody for sexually molesting several little girls who lived
in the same Navy housing unit as Alicia. The prosecutor was
attempting to connect the man with Alicia and another sexually-
assaulted child who also lived in Navy housing. In attempting to
obtain this sample, the prosecutor used the verbatim description
of the attack Alicia gave in her initial statement to law
enforcement officers-a version of events this attorney rebuffed
in attempting to terminate the parental rights of Alicia's mother
and father.

While the errors and mistakes which plagued this case are
tragic, more disturbing is the fact that 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 purpose of this report is to illuminate this case for

the benefit of all county and supporting agencies involved in the
dependency process, to allow them independently to evaluate their
practices and decision-making processes within the context of the
system at work in the hopes that such a combination of errors
will never again occur.


On the night of May 8, 1989, eight-year old Alicia W. was

raped. Alicia and her family had entertained the next door
neighbors at a family barbecue earlier that evening. All adults
in attendance told the police that the father drank no alcoholic
beverages at this barbecue. Alicia went to sleep in her own bed.
The next morning, her father arose early to go to work. He
checked Alicia, and she appeared to be sleeping soundly. He left
the home. The mother arose, and children began arriving for her
in-home day care. Alicia was awakened for school A few minutes
later, she complained to her mother of discomfort on urination.
This was not unusual. Alicia had a personal history of urinary
tract and bladder infections and a family history of congenital
kidney problems. Alicia's mother has one kidney; her paternal

uncle also has one kidney. Both suffer from chronic problems.
The uncle has now received a donor kidney from his sister. Her
mother will need a donor kidney soon. (This history was well-
documented in the medical records the family provided to the
Juvenile Court. Those original documents were never returned to
the parents despite several requests.)

Alicia's mother noticed drops of blood on Alicia's sheets

and called the father at work asking him to come home and take
Alicia to the local NAVCARE. (The mother does not drive.) While
waiting for the father to return, the child changed her clothes
and watched TV. She did not appear to be in any discomfort.

The mother arranged for coverage of the day-care children,

the father arrived home, and within an hour of the child's
initial complaint, the parents and Alicia arrived at NAVCARE. At
NAVCARE the child sat in the waiting room watching TV and reading
books with her parents, while waiting to see the doctor. Neither
the parents nor the receptionist noticed any discomfort. (This
fact is important, as the mother was later faulted for not
calling 911 immediately. There was no indication to the mother
that this was more than a routine urinary tract infection.)

The doctor examined Alicia in the presence of her parents

and discovered that she had been severely raped and sodomized.
He asked her what had happened and she said she didn't know. Her
stunned parents asked her what had happened and she
couldn't/wouldn't tell them either. (The doctor would later
comment in an August report on the amount of blood on her night
clothes. This "fact" could not accurately have been reported by
this physician, as Alicia was wearing a sweat suit when she went
to NAVCARE, and there was no blood visible to an observer. This
flawed, after-the-fact reported observation would later be used
by others to suggest a lack of parental concern.)

The NAVCARE doctor called CPS. It took almost two hours for
him to reach CPS and for CPS to respond. CPS's report was time-
stamped at 11:03 AM. While waiting for CPS to arrive at NAVCARE,
the child appeared completely normal and unconcerned by what had
happened to her and her present condition. The parents held the
child in their laps during the period. The father called his
ship and advised he would not be returning to work that day.

A CPS emergency response worker (DSS ER) arrived and

interviewed the family. That interview primarily concerned
family history. In the narrative of that interview, the response
worker focused on what the Jury learned through testimony were
"red flags" to molest. These included:

1. Father in the Navy [not unusual in San Diego];

2. Mother an adult molested as a child (AMAC) [yet no
documented correlation between a molested mother and

risk to a daughter];
3. Father describes himself as a recovering alcoholic;

4. Father states that he formerly drank to the point of

occasional blackouts;
5. Sibling (6 years old) has attention deficit disorder
(A.D.D.) [a condition which is diagnosed in 7-lo~~ of
male, child population];

6. Family has no relatives in the San Diego area and has

not been in the area long enough to have many friends
[not unusual for a Navy family];
7. Child denies any sexual touching by father or anyone
else [characteristic of "denial" and innocence].

All of this information was volunteered by the parents

during an interview of less than an hour. There was no
"positive" family information about the parents in this report
except that they were very cooperative and appeared appropriately

While DSS ER did not express a conclusion, his opinion that

this was an "in house" family molest was revealed "between the
lines". Instead of the red flags being used as indicators of
possible molest, they were relied upon as evidence of molest.
More damning, the Child Abuse Unit of the San Diego Police
Department responded, instead of the Sex Crimes Unit. Testimony
indicated that this occurred only because Child Abuse detectives
happened to be available.

The Jury believes that this case was prejudged from the
beginning by either, or both, the reporting party or the person
receiving that report. For example, in the absence of any
positive evidence, the Child Protective Services form, processed
at 11:03 AM, May 9, reflected "reported abuser" as "father?".
The original reporting physician at NAVCARE is reported to have
said that he told the parents that Alicia had been molested, and
the father began to cry uncontrollably. Mother also cried. This
was not noted.

The SDPD dispatch operator who received this report sent the
Child Abuse Unit with the result that a unit which deals
primarily with familial or "in house" molest investigated the
case. The predisposition of this infortuitous response placed
the case on a track leading to a charge and assumption of "in
house" molest.

After several hours at NAVCARE, Alicia was taken to the

Center for Child Protection (CCP). In a frequently quoted letter
offered in the Juvenile Court at several crucial contested
hearings, a Center physician (CCP MD DIR) wrongly attributed this
passage of time to the parents: "If her mother saw her (and saw
the bleeding) early in the morning, why did she delay taking her
for care for three hours or so?"


At the Center for Child Protection, Alicia received a

medical "evidentiary" examination by a center physician (CCP MD).
During the course of that examination, Alicia told the doctor
about a man who took her through her bedroom window. The doctor
did not include that statement in the narrative report. In fact,
the CCP MD wrote, "at this time there is complete denial from
this little girl as to the perpetrator of these injuries to her."
Nor did the doctor include Alicia's statement in the medical
evidentiary findings, even though the doctor stated in an August
letter to the Deputy District Attorney (DDA JUV), some three
months later, the following:

"I told Alicia that she must have been really hurt by
someone, and she then calmly replied that a man came
through her bedroom window and took her out and hurt

The doctor went on to discount this story as highly unlikely.

Regardless of the doctor's opinion of the child's veracity, there
is a space on the medical evidentiary form for the "chief
complaint in the child's own words." Proper procedure would
dictate that Alicia's statements to the doctor be included there.
Instead, the doctor reported there was "total denial" from
Alicia. This "denial" can only be attributed to this doctor's
assumption of what had happened to Alicia, namely, "in house"
molest. Alicia's only "denial" was denial that her father did
it-the only response the system apparently was looking for.

After the medical evidentiary, Alicia was questioned by one

of the SDPD Child Abuse detectives. Alicia gave a detailed
description of her assailant, a description of his car, and the
clothes he wore. At the time the detective and the evidentiary
social worker at CCP argued about whether the detective was
"leading" the child. The social worker discounted the child's
account. The social worker decided not to do the interview of
the child that day because, in her view, the child's testimony
had been "tainted" by the detective. The interview was
rescheduled for more than a week later. It was not noted
anywhere by anyone that the child had given the abduction account
to the Center for Child Protection doctor before being questioned
by the detective.

The DSS Court Investigative Social Worker (DSS CI) filed a

court "gram" on July 27, which stated that the CCP social worker
told her that she was present at the time of the interview of
Alicia by the detective. The CCP Social Worker (CCP SWl) is

quoted by the DSS CI, saying:

"she and the staff of CCP had already agreed that the
child was too traumatized to be interviewed . . . the
detective proceeded to question the minor. . . asking
the minor leading questions as to who the perpetrator
was . . . the police were in the process of
investigating other molest incidents and that the
questioning about an unknown intruder coming into the
house was a concept that the minor readily agreed to,
consequently, preventing the minor from further
disclosing actual events."

This very misleading statement (as is explained on page 7) was

later used by DSS CI for purposes of thwarting a court-ordered
plan to appoint a third party caretaker (the paternal
grandmother) so that Alicia could return home.

While these various procedures were going on, the parents

were in the waiting room of CCP. They were not allowed to see
their daughter. They were there for hours. They asked many
times to see Alicia and were refused. The Jury was told that
Center procedure allows for a parent to be with a child. The CCP
SWl later wrote to the DSS CI that in all of her years, she had
never seen parents "so unconcerned" about their child. This same
social worker had told the family earlier that if they showed any
emotion, they would not be allowed to have contact with Alicia.
Thus, parent compliance with CCP orders was turned against them.
(The social worker wrote this, knowing it would be used in
Juvenile Court proceedings.)

It was decided that the child should be scheduled for

surgery. She was taken to Children's Hospital under an emergency
detention. The parents were not allowed to be with her. The
mother was promised that she would be able to be with the child
after surgery, as long as she did not discuss the rape and had a
nurse with her in the room. That promise was broken, and Alicia
did not see her mother for many weeks. The Grand Jury was unable
to determine who was responsible for that decision. It is
believed that it was a staff social worker at Children's

While the child was being prepared for surgery, and with no
explanation to either the child or the mother, the mother was
forcibly escorted by hospital security out of the hospital under
protest. Despite the mother's availability, medical history for
the surgery was given by Alicia, an eight year old child. The
mother testified that the surgeon expressed his outrage about the
mother's removal from the hospital, and thus the increased risk
to Alicia, when he called the parents with the results of
Alicia's surgery.

Of equal importance, this child endured a traumatic event,
surgery and hospitalization, without the solace of any member of
her family. Furthermore, there is no record in the logs of
Hospital or the social worker logs of anyone explaining to this
child why her parents weren't there. She had a nurse call her
parents, and, when her father answered, he had to hang up without
saying anything, because he was under orders from the DSS CI not
to speak to Alicia. After that phone call, the parents called
both the hospital and the DSS CI and asked that someone explain
the circumstances to Alicia and tell her they were sorry they had
to hang up and they loved her very much. There is no record of
anyone giving Alicia that message. There is a record of the
parents' calls and of Alicia crying for her parents. Given the
mother's agreement to be with Alicia with a nurse in the room and
not to discuss the rape, the Jury questions how anyone could
consider this action "in the best interests of the child."


While the parents were at CCP the San Diego Police

Department detectives (SDPD DET1&2) questioned them. By all
accounts, the parents cooperated fully. The father accompanied
the detectives back to the home where physical evidence,
including the child's clothing and sheets, was recovered.
Fingerprints from the window were taken, and a footprint outside
the window was found. The father asked that the detectives take
a mold of the footprint. The detectives were not able to do so,
but they photographed the footprint impression.

The following day, the father was interrogated further when

he voluntarily accompanied the detectives to the police station.
At some point in a long interrogation and after numerous
accusations, the father stated, "you're so sure I did it, but if
I did I sure don't remember it". This statement is treated
throughout the case as an admission of culpability by the father.
Detectives and prosecutors offered this statement as a partial
admission. The Jurors were disturbed that this statement could
be uniformly construed in this way and not considered as an
expression of frustration, shock, or anger. Consistently, the
contemporaneous records of the investigation and social worker
notes indicate that no alternative to familial molest was ever
seriously entertained.

The next day the father voluntarily submitted to a polygraph

and a rape kit test. The polygraph was rated as "inconclusive".
Father and father's attorney hounded the police for months
regarding the results of the rape kit test. The father felt
certain it would exonerate him. The Jury questions the length of
time it took finally to conclude that the rape kit test would not
provide relevant evidence. - In order to do this test the police
needed semen. The erroneous report that there was no semen on

Alicia's clothing would not come until late July, more than two
months after the rape. This was a procedural breakdown which
seriously handicapped the defense in Juvenile Court. The delay
in obtaining these results is professionally inexcusable and the
determination that there was no semen when, in fact, there was,
is professionally unconscionable.


The DSS CI, who was from the Court Investigative Unit, was
assigned to Alicia's case on the morning of May 10. The evidence
indicates that she believed that this was incest (or "in house"
molest) from the moment she received the case. She remained on
this case until the end of December. DSS Procedure dictates that
the Court Investigative SW should stay on the case through the
dispositional phase and then transfer the case to the Maintenance
and Reunification Unit. However, it required a court order some
six weeks after disposition for DSS CI to be removed from
Alicia's case.

DSS CI was responsible for the investigation and for

preparing the social studies for the contested jurisdictional and
dispositional hearings. She also prepared documents for the
various other hearings which occurred in this case. She
immediately started the child with a- therapist she chose, and
told that therapist that she believed the father had molested the
child. This therapist has a large percentage of molest victims
as patients. She is not well-versed in sexual assault issues.
DSS CI placed the child in a confidential foster home. She
controlled and strictly limited visitation and telephone contact.
When the second foster mother expressed the belief that the
parents were appropriate and that Alicia was desperate to go
home, DSS CI removed the child from that home and filed a
complaint with licensing, in a successful attempt to have the
foster home license removed.

Alicia was placed in a third foster home. These parents

were in the "fost-adopt" program trying to adopt a baby girl.
The DSS CI wrote pages and pages of reports. Despite the
many positive aspects of this family, nothing positive was ever
reported in these reports. She concentrated solely on the
negatives, and she enlisted the apparently willing help of the
Center for Child Protection to buttress her conclusions. The CCP
Director (CCP MD DIR), who never saw Alicia or her parents and
did not view the evidentiary video, wrote a several page letter
in which he all but claimed to have "solved the crime." The DSS
CI and ultimately the court treated this letter, a letter by the
CCP examining physician, and a letter by the CCP evidentiary SW
as evidence instead of the opinions they were. Moreover, they
were opinions based on "facts" which were either erroneous or

untrue. These letters overreached the reasonable, objective,
professional standards expected of an organization that has great
power and influence in the field of children's issues.

On July 17, Alicia saw her father for the first time since
the rape. (She was already in therapy with a therapist who
believed the father was guilty and had told Alicia it was OK to
tell that Daddy did it). The visit was supervised by DSS CI and
observed through a one-way mirror by father's attorney. The
child ran to her father, sat on his lap, and was very reluctant
to leave. DSS CI reported this very positive encounter,

"the visit was without incident . . . the interaction

between the minor and her father was appropriate and they
appeared to have a pleasant visit."

This is as positive a remark as DSS CI made in any social study

in this case. However, it does not accurately reflect either the
parents' testimony or the contemporaneous notes made by the
father's attorney of the meeting.

The Grand Jury has already expressed its concern about the
role of the Court Investigative Social Worker (Grand Jury Report
#2, "FAMILIES IN CRISIS", p. 29). This social worker is placed
in the untenable position of both acquiring evidence for the
"prosecution" of a child abuse case and providing necessary
services to a family that does not trust her/him.


Beginning in late April, before the rape of Alicia, the same

SDPD detectives who responded to the NAVCARE call were involved
in an ongoing molest investigation. These molests were of four
little girls who all lived in the same Navy housing project
within a half block of Alicia. This investigation took well
over a month as the police detectives collected evidence to
charge a previously convicted child molester, who was the friend
of the parents of one of the little girls. The story unfolded
gradually, as the children told more and more about the molests.

As the investigation unfolded, an unusual feature of the

perpetrator was the fact that he entered through a window. These
children were all interviewed individually at the Center for
Child Protection. What is important about this investigation is
who knew what and when they knew it.

The interviewer at the Center on the day of Alicia's rape

accused the police officer (SDPD DET2) of feeding Alicia
questions and leading her about her perpetrator. She later
stated that this detective led the child with the story about
being taken out the window, because these detectives were working

on another series of molests where entry through windows were

involved. In fact, on the day of Alicia's rape, police records
indicate that the information about windows in the other molests
was unknown and did not surface for the first time until May 19,
when it was provided to the police by a Shore Patrol officer.
One of the molest victims confirmed the Shore Patrol information
to the SDPD detectives on May 23. The children were not
interviewed at CCP until mid-June.

Furthermore, the interviewer at CCP (CCP SW1), in her August

9, letter to the D.A. discounts Alicia's statements to the
police as a "vague scenario that may have led up to her genital
injuries." The police report of this interview reads:

"A man came in though my brother's window and carried

me out. The man said he was my uncle, but he's really
not. He was a white male, 20's, a little taller than
my mom (5'5"), short brown hair, slight freckles and a
pimple on the lower right side of his lip. The man
wore a short-sleeved white shirt with red stripes and
brown pants. Once he carried me outside through the
window, he put me in a car. The car was green like my
grandpa's. He drove me around the corner close by my
house and stopped by a grassy area near a brown fence."

For some reason, all assumed from this statement that Alicia
was saying she had been raped outside on the ground. Alicia never
said that she was taken out of the car. An 8/9/89 letter from
the CCP MD DIR states, "If she was taken outside and raped, why
were there no signs of an outside environment such as dirt,
grass, or twigs on her clothing"?

Police reports indicated that some of the other children

molested at this time referred to the assailant as "uncle."
Further, this was not a vague description. In fact, Alicia's
description played an important role in the eventual
identification and conviction of the serial attacker for the
assault of another child, four-year-old Nicole S.

On May 13, 1989, Nicole 5. was removed through her bedroom

window in a nearby Navy housing project and kidnapped for the
purpose of sexual assault. Her parents heard a window slam,
jumped up, found the child gone, and immediately notified the
police. Several hours later, she was found in National City at a
telephone booth. She had been sexually assaulted. There were no
clues as to the identity of the perpetrator. Even in this
scenario, the Navy father was suspected. However, the child was
not removed from parental custody.

Coincidentally, Alicia W. and Nicole S. had the same

evidentiary interviewer (CP SWl) at the Center for Child
Protection. This is the same interviewer who saw Alicia on the

day of the rape and who decided that the police detective was
"leading" the child. Alicia was finally interviewed on May 15,
and Nicole S. was interviewed May 13. Alicia said in her
interview that she knew her assailant was a man, "I could tell by
his face," and that she had seen his face in her brother's
window. The CP SWl did not follow up these statements with any
questions. Nicole S. stated, "he grabbed me on the bed. The
stranger grabbed me. I thought it was my daddy, but it was this
stranger." The child indicated that the stranger who had removed
her from her bedroom had a "white truck". Nicole S. described a
"white truck." In fact, she was taken in a white truck. This
seemed to contradict Alicia's statement about a green car and
might lead one to believe that these were not connected. In
fact, Carder did have a green car at the time of Alicia's rape.
He reported to the police on May 23 that the green car was
stolen. This information was almost immediately known to the Sex
Crimes detectives investigating the assault of Nicole S.
Unfortunately, that stolen-car report was never passed on to the
Child Abuse detectives, and they apparently never ran a DMV check
on Carder.

These two interviews were significant in several ways. The

CCP SW 1 interviewer did not follow up on any of the statements
made by Alicia W. The CCP interviewer did not make use in any
way of the earlier information collected by the police officer.
The CCP interviewer refused to see the connection between these
two very similar crimes; she found it credible that Nicole 5.
was taken through a bedroom window, but incredible that Alicia W.
was similarly taken through a bedroom window.

Also of significance is a statement which the interviewer

transcribed in her narrative of the interview and which surfaced
throughout the history of the case. The interviewer asked Alicia
with whom she would feel safe. The interviewer reported Alicia's
answer as, "my mom and my brother." Alicia very clearly stated
on the tape, "my mom, my dad, and my brother." The omission of
the reference to her father is significant. There is some
question as to whether anyone ever reviewed that video, as no one
ever questioned the written narrative of the interview which was
extensively quoted for two years. The CCP MD DDIR wrote one of
the letters which refers to this interview and later acknowledged
that he never reviewed the video.

The Sex Crimes Unit focused on a suspect in the Navy housing

series because of a lead given them by one of the Child Abuse
Unit detectives (SDPD DET1) involved in Alicia W. He read about
the abduction in the newspaper and noted its similarity to the
rape of Alicia. He contacted a detective in the Sex Crimes Unit.
Ironically, this assault was by far more difficult to solve than
that of Alicia. There was no prior connection between the
suspect and Nicole S. SDPD DETl was also involved in the other
Navy Housing molests. He noted the similarity in "method of

operation" of these events. Negligently, the detective did not
follow through to connect Nicole S.'s perpetrator as the
perpetrator of Alicia W.'s rape.

No one ever asked these other molest victims if they knew

Alicia. No one ever asked Alicia if she knew them. Alicia could
easily have been taken to see any one of the girls to see if she
knew them. They were the same age and lived within a half block
in Navy Housing!1 This would appear to be a routine procedure
1Alicia has subsequently told her parents that the man who
raped her "stayed" at the home of one of her friends. She named
this friend and it was the name of the child with whom the
of a competent investigator.

On May 23, there was a second attempt to break into Joshua's

bedroom. Mr. W. had installed a burglar alarm system on the
windows. The alarm went off. The police were called. A
handprint was found and taken. Several hours later the alarm
went off again. The police came again, and a second set of
prints were removed. The police officers assured Alicia's family
that these fingerprints would immediately go to the Child Abuse
Unit. No one disputes this scenario of the events of the night
of May 23. Various testimony taken indicated that these
fingerprints were lost. There was no record of them in the
physical evidence record sent to the Grand Jury.

The treatment of the physical evidence in Alicia's rape has

received a great deal of attention. For some reason the presence
of semen on Alicia's clothing was overlooked by the criminalist
(SDPD CRIM), and the clothing was not examined again until two
years later. The police detectives, and later the criminal
Deputy District Attorney on the criminal prosecution of this
case, blamed this failure on inadequate and antiquated equipment
in the crime lab. While the Jury does not debate the state of
the lab equipment at that time, it does note that semen was
correctly identified on Nicole S.'s clothing within a day of her
assault which was within a week of Alicia's rape.

Alicia's clothing was not the only physical evidence in the

case, nor was it the only evidence mishandled. There was also
the photograph of the footprint taken from outside the bedroom
window. That footprint proved, more than two years later, to be
a close match with that of the serial suspect. A study of police
procedure indicates that this should have been checked at the
time of the suspect's arrest. As in almost every other misstep
in the case, the prevailing bias of an "in house" molest and the
father's guilt appears to be responsible for the failure to

Members of the Grand Jury visited the Navy Housing complex

where Alicia lived. Current residents demonstrated how easy it
is to break into locked windows from outside. Many of the young
children who live there are quite accomplished at this. The Jury
was informed that Alicia's brother, age six at the time,
demonstrated to the police how he was able to enter a locked
suspect stayed. Alicia said she never knew this man's name as her friend
called him "Uncle".
window. These windows are low to the ground and large. It is
relatively easy for an adult to step onto the ledge and into a
room. This fact was misrepresented to the court by the DSS CI.

As an aside, current residents who lived there at the time

of Alicia's rape reported numerous rumors about the rape and the
other molests. They also reported that despite frequent problems
with break-ins and reports to the Navy about the lack of the
security of the windows, nothing had been done. One resident
reported that at the time this was occurring, he had reported to
the Shore Patrol that his children were reporting an adult male
who wanted to look at their privates. Residents reported that
the Navy had not questioned them for further information nor made
any attempt to dispel the rumors or educate residents about what
had actually happened.2 The Navy has made no effort to fix
these windows. Jurors found that residents of this complex
routinely placed boards on ground floor windows, and put
furniture in front of windows to improve security. Complaints
have been routinely made to Navy security and routinely ignored.

When the serial suspect was arrested, the police asked to

have Alicia attempt to ID him from a live line-up. Alicia's
therapist and social worker felt that this would be too
traumatic. Despite reservation, the police abided by its
professional opinion. (It should be noted that there is no
mention in any logs or therapy notes of Alicia suffering from
severe emotional trauma. Rather there are frequent notes about
her excellent recovery and adjustment.) Instead, Alicia was
shown five small polaroid photos, and she was unable to pick out
a photo of the suspect


Alicia's description of her attacker, as given to one of the

Child Abuse Unit detectives, played a role in the ultimate
conviction of the assailant for the assault of Nicole S. First,

2Also of serious importance was the failure by the Navy to

keep Mr. w. informed as to the nature of the other sexual
molests. Mr. R. moved away from this Navy housing complex on the
morning of May 24th after he had experienced a warning alarm of a
threatened break-in twice in one night. He only later heard rumors
of other molests.
it was a Child Abuse Unit detective's recognition, from reading
the newspaper article about this abduction, and communication
with a detective from the Sex Crimes Unit that made the suspect a
possible target in the assault of Nicole S. Significantly, with
the suspect in custody, the D.A., involved in the prosecution of
the other four neighbors of Alicia, filed a declaration to obtain
the suspect's blood in order to connect him with both the rape of
Alicia and the assault of Nicole S.

This declaration used Alicia's description as given, on the

morning after the rape, to a SDPD detective. The Deputy D.A.
stated that Alicia's description was accurate and that the pimple
or bump on the assailant's face, described by Alicia, was even
discernable in the photo taken at the time of his arrest. The
declaration went On to state that, "the modus operandi of the
crime involving Nicole S. is so similar to that of the crime
involving Alicia W. that [the defendant] must be considered as a

The declaration concluded:

"a sample of the defendant's blood for purposes of

comparison is necessary to exclude or include [the
defendant] in the category of suspects as to the
molests of Alicia W. and Nicole S. Though he is not
the only suspect in either case, as each father is also
a suspect, he is a suspect in both cases who could be
eliminated or confirmed by such a comparison."

It is very disturbing that despite the fact that this

document was in the District Attorney's file on the suspect, it
was not in the court file and therefore not discoverable by the
criminal defense counsel for Alicia's father or available earlier
when the parent's attorneys were seeking to discover from the
D.A. all documents relating to the suspect. Neither was it
available when the parents' attorneys were attempting two years
later to recuse this same attorney in the Juvenile Court
proceedings. The document was court filed. It's removal from
the suspect's criminal file, or a bookkeeping error in the
3In 1991, after the semen had been discovered and when the
defense was attempting to obtain a continuance of the .26
termination of parental rights hearing, this same attorney, as
County Counsel, represented to the court that, as the criminal
prosecuting D. A. on these cases, the "MO's" of these assaults
were completely different.
records department, was highly prejudicial to the criminal

defense and in the Juvenile proceedings.4 The Deputy District

Attorney, who prepared this declaration, went directly from
prosecuting the suspect on the Navy housing molests to a new job
as Deputy County Counsel and began representing the Department
of Social Services on the Alicia W. case in January, 1990.

Having all of this information on the serial suspect, she

could have brought to this case the insight to look at someone
other than the father as the perpetrator. Instead, throughout
her tenure on this case, she used her experience, as the D.A.
who had prosecuted the serial suspect, to protest that these two
crimes were completely different and that she was certain that
the serial attacker had not raped Alicia. This Deputy's July
12, 1989, declaration, missing from the files, belies that
testimony and raises many unanswered questions about this
attorney's motivation.

The blood obtained as a result of that declaration did

result in the identification of the serial suspect as the
perpetrator against Nicole S. If the criminal lab had found the
semen on Alicia's clothing at the time of the rape, it could
have also resulted in the early identification of this man as
the perpetrator of the rape of Alicia.


Following the erroneous conclusion that there was no semen

on Alicia's clothing, very little was done to resolve the case.
Mr. W. kept trying to prove his innocence and underwent a
polygraph by Naval Investigative Service officials. He passed
this polygraph with the Naval Investigator Service polygrapher,
indicating that Mr. W. was not being deceptive in denying the
attack on his daughter.

For thirteen months, Alicia persisted in telling her

therapist about the man who took her through a window and raped
4Despite the fact that the DAs office provided this declaration at
the time the Grand Jury subpoenaed the serial attackers criminal file,
the criminal prosecuting Deputy DA was unfamiliar with this document.
This was surprising on two counts. It would appear reasonable that he
would have reviewed this file both at the time he began to prosecute
Alicias father and again when the file was requested by the Grand Jury.

her. After more than a year of therapy and isolation from her
family, Alicia finally "disclosed" that her father had raped
her. She was again taken to the Center for Child Protection and
interviewed. This interview was very disturbing. Alicia was
barely able to say the words of accusation. She refused to

elaborate. She laid on the floor and almost assumed the fetal
position. She kept trying to change the subject. Her statement,
nevertheless, was taken as the truth, because it was what her
listeners had waited so long to hear.

A leading specialist in the area of sexual assault issues

was asked to review both of the interviews done by the Center for
Child Protection and expressed this opinion:

"I reviewed the video tapes of Alicia W. made at

Children's Hospital done in 1989 and 1990. First
interview done by (CCP SW Investigator I) and second
interview done by (CCP SW Investigator II). In both
interviews, in particular and even more apparent in the
second interview (which is one year after the trauma)
this child demonstrated significant cognitive deficits
and depressive affect. Alicia had significant
impairment in concentration and attention apparatus.
These deficits could be seen when she had difficulty in
recalling what had just been asked only seconds before.
One could almost see Alicia "tuning out", day dreaming,
"forgot" what was just stated . . . She also seemed to
become regressed, at one point in the second interview
she moves from sitting up position to lying on the
floor in a semi fetal position. Alicia also
demonstrated as having short-term and long-term memory
impairment. These are accompanied by amnesic states
. . . It is my opinion that this child is in
psychological shock or experiencing a significant
psychological process which has deadened particular
psychological processes, i.e. memory."

In other words, after more than a year in therapy, Alicia's

psychological state deteriorated. This expert further noted
that, "Much has been missed clinically and is compounded by the
perception that this child was molested. Alicia may have also
been a victim of nosocomial abuse, i.e. abuse pertaining to or
originating in a clinic or hospital".5
5The False Memory Syndrome Foundation, located in
Philadelphia, was established in February, 1992. The Advisory
In an earlier letter to the Juvenile Court, after an
evaluation was done at the court's request, shortly after Alicia
named her father, this expert speculated:

"Children's logic many times does not follow the

logical rational thinking of adults. There are times
that children will name an individual whom they feel
they can trust as the perpetrator, even though that
individual is not the perpetrator. Sometimes they name
this particular individual because they know that
he/she will not be angered by the child accusing them.
That adult is a safe individual for that child.
Sometimes they do this . . . to have the pressure off
of them for "telling who did it". In this case, it
may be that the child is naming the natal father
because of this fact. On the other hand it may be
because the child's therapist is only focusing on the
father as the perpetrator not allowing the child to
"really tell the story".

It is this expert's acute level of insight into this case which

led the Jury to have a grave concern about the level of
competency and inherent biases of some of the other court-
appointed therapists who are performing essentially investigative

The second social worker (DSS SW2) on this case wrote in her
transfer notes: "Alicia's therapist absolutely believes that the
father is the perp [perpetrator]. At this point if Alicia could
suddenly identify another perp [perpetrator] I'm not sure that
she would hear her." The truth of this observation was verified
when the therapy notes were eventually "discovered" by the
Board of FMS Foundation includes twenty Professors of Psychology
and Psychiatry from the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, UCLA,
Stanford, John Hopkins, UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University.
The Foundation is deeply concerned about the growing phenomenon of
false accusations coming out of therapy. The Foundation is
concerned that this dangerous phenomenon will ultimately impact the
profession's credibility. Already they attribute inappropriate
therapy with destroying families and creating abuse in the minds of
children and adults.

The appropriateness of a therapist and social worker having
so much control over the access to a primary witness to a crime
should be examined. These two controlled all access to Alicia
for a year and maintained that Alicia was "blocking", while she
persisted in trying to convince her therapist of her description
of the perpetrator right up to the "disclosure" that it was her
father. The only other persons who had contact were the foster
parents. Any information they reported back to the therapist or
social workers was treated as objective and factual.

In June of 1990, after seven months in isolation from her

family, the court ordered a visit with Alicia's brother, Josh.
The court also ordered on the recommendation of DSS SW3 that
Alicia be brought in for a hearing in the judge's chambers. By
this time, the foster parents had expressed interest in adopting
Alicia. On June 20, 1990, from therapy notes:

"Session w/Alicia. Talked w/FO MO - after session
w/Josh Alicia had a nightmare (first since November -
always Mo/Alicia/Josh dies in gruesome manner). This
one Alicia dreams her dad falls off a ladder on his
ship and drowns. [FO MO] is concerned about impact of
visits on Alicia.

Talked with Alicia about need for her to talk about

what happened that night. Says she's not ready yet -
explored what would make it easier. Began to cry and
said it was because R. makes fun of her foster home
placement. Said she could tell me or foster parents.
Then told me same thing about man w/brown eyes and hair
took her out of screen in Josh's room 6 took her away
in a green car. Said she was tired went to sleep
after - that's why she didn't wake MO."

On June 22, 1990 from therapy notes:

"T/C from/to FO MO - told me Alicia disclosed her

father as abuser."


This "disclosure" by Alicia after thirteen months of therapy

was sufficient to lead to the filing of criminal charges against
the father. Despite all of the expert cautions to believe the
first story a child tells, Alicia was not believed until she said
her father did it. After that she was never questioned. There
was no further substantiating evidence needed. DSS CI, the
therapist and the foster parents finally had the "disclosure"
they wanted. It was determined by the Deputy D.A. (DDA CRIM)
that Alicia was a credible witness. Despite the pages and pages
of narrative by the Deputy D.A. on the "chronology of the case",
the only single new thing that was done at this point was to send
an investigator to interview the now convicted serial attacker in
prison. This man denied raping Alicia and said that he was
avoiding that neighborhood at the time. This statement was
patently false, as the police already had solid evidence of his
entering other windows in that neighborhood at the time of the
rape of Alicia, and one of the charges against him, and on which
he was convicted, occurred on the same date as the rape of
Alicia. That victim was a child across the street.

The DDA CRIM acknowledged on the screening sheet that this

was a "weak case" with an "inexperienced therapist". The
preliminary hearing was held in February, and the father was
bound over for trial.

Prior to trial, the DDA CRIM, in an effort to bolster the

case, had Alicia's clothing reexamined. It occurred to him that


Alicia might have been drugged and that this could have been the
reason for her failure to respond appropriately at the time of
the rape and on the morning after. He knew that there was blood
on the clothing, and he contacted the SDPD criminalist to
determine whether a toxicology screen could be done on the blood
stains. Some days later, the DEP DA CRIM called the lab, and the
criminalist told him that while testing the clothing, she had
found semen using a piece of equipment purchased after the
original testing had been done. (Note: Semen could have been
found using the LAB equipment in place during May, 1989.)

Throughout March and April, 1991, the police department and

the DDA CRIM discussed and maneuvered with this new-found
information. At the same time the criminal defense attorney,
unaware of these findings, was seeking to have the physical
evidence sent to an independent laboratory for examination. The
attorney was not told until some time in April that semen had
been found on the clothing. It took from May until August to
obtain the results of that independent testing, which showed that
Mr. W. was not the perpetrator and that the serial attacker very
likely was.
Although he did not report the discovery of the semen for
more than a month (a delay which was critical in the Juvenile
Court proceedings) the DEP DA CRIM, to his credit, delayed the
criminal case pending the return of tests and kept parties in the
Juvenile Court proceedings apprised of the developments in the
criminal proceedings. Astoundingly, the Juvenile Court continued
to proceed towards termination of parental rights without the
information about the progress of this testing. Telephone logs
from both the DDA CRIM and the Deputy County Counsel (DCC JUV)
who was handling Alicia's case indicate that there was frequent
communication between them, and that the DCC JUV was very aware
of the nature of the new evidence. After the results of the
first DNA testing were received and these results exonerated Mr.
W., the D.A.'s office required that they be repeated before
taking any further action. The "no contact" order, prohibiting
contact between father and daughter, was left in place while this
second testing was done.

When the first set of results from DNA testing showed that
the father was not the perpetrator and that the incarcerated
perpetrator of the other molests was a highly likely suspect, and
after the involvement of the Grand Jury, a meeting was held with
the foster parents, the Deputy D.A., minor's counsel, a DSS
representative, and father's counsel. At that time, and in other
contacts, the foster parents continued to insist that the father
was involved. The foster parents told the DDA CRIM that Alicia
had had no urinary or bladder infections since she had been in
their home and that she wanted to be adopted by them. (The
implication of the cessation of the urinary/bladder infections
was that these can be associated with molest.) There was no

effort made to ever check the veracity of that statement. The
Deputy County Counsel, the Deputy D.A., and the foster parents,
without a shred of confirming evidence, developed an implausible
scenario that the rape could have involved both the father and
another man and that the rape story was a cover for an ongoing

Two SDPD detectives from the Child Abuse Unit (SDPD Det.
1 & 3) were sent to interview the serial attacker in prison. He
told both of them that he always "worked" alone. He further told
them that he did not know Mr. W., and that Mr. W. had nothing to
do with the rape of his daughter. He did not confess to the rape
but wanted to meet with the D.A. The detectives reported their
clear impression that he wanted a plea bargain. Even after this
interview, the "no-contact" order was not lifted even for
purposes of allowing the father to attend joint-therapy sessions
with Alicia.

Despite a sincere but marginal investigative effort, all of

the necessary investigative information was always in the
possession of the San Diego Police Department. The police
department failed in its investigation, in its communication of
available information, and in its examination of physical
evidence to put this information together properly. Given the
facts of this case and the evidence available, the reason for
this failure is obvious. This failure can most readily be
explained by the predisposition of the Child Abuse Unit, the
Center for Child Protection, and the Court Investigative Social
worker to see this as a case of familial incest. The police
investigators abdicated their primary investigative role to the
social worker, the therapist, and the Center for Child
Protection, despite their strong suspicions that the facts of
this case did not support their bias.

In March of 1992, the Foreman and Deputy Foreman of the

Grand Jury met with the District Attorney, two senior Deputies,
and the Deputy D.A. in charge of the Child Abuse Unit. Although
the purpose of this meeting was not to discuss the Alicia W.
case, it became the subject of considerable discussion. These
jurors were incredulous when they discovered that the D.A. and
members of the his staff still believed that Mr. W. was either
guilty of or implicated in the rape of Alicia.

This was four months after a "true finding of innocence" by

the criminal court. The jury members were presented with
numerous speculative possibilities for this involvement. Again,
refutation of each of these theories was in the D.A.'s own file
or in the DSS file, which was readily available to the D.A.

Jury members were deeply troubled that the District Attorney

had still not done a comprehensive study of their processes and
procedures, which allowed such a serious miscarriage of justice

to endure for so long. The Jury was concerned that the attitude
of the office of the District Attorney appeared inconsistent with
its charge to represent the people. While it is the job of the
D.A. to prosecute cases, it is also his job to exercise sound
prosecutorial discretion to prevent such awesome power from being
misapplied. There had been no attempt, even when the existence
of semen was discovered, to look for evidence exculpatory to the
father. When the semen proved to be a third party's, there was
an effort made to connect that person to the father.

The Jury recognizes that some of the "facts" could not have
been known to the D.A., and some of the "facts" were erroneous
assumptions made by various child abuse investigators. It is
hoped that this chronology will be used to help the District
Attorney, the SDPD Child Abuse Unit, and particularly the SDPD
Criminal Lab to take a closer look at procedures to ensure that
these same errors are not repeated in the future.6



Within forty-eight hours of taking custody of Alicia, the

Department of Social Services had either to file a petition
seeking temporary custody of the child or to return Alicia to her
parents. The Court Investigative Social Worker (DSS CI) was
responsible for the investigation and for the decision to take
the case to the Department's attorney seeking a dependency
petition. All petitions are screened for legality by an attorney
for the Department of Social Services. In May of 1989, the
District Attorney was still representing the Department in all
juvenile dependency cases. A supervising Deputy D.A. screened
the petition within the forty-eight hour period and determined
that given the information presented to him by DSS CI, there was
cause for a dependency petition.

The following day, May 12, 1989, the parents arrived in

court and were confronted with a Petition filed under Section
300(d) of the Welfare and Institutions Code (sexual abuse) which

"that the minor has suffered, and that there is

substantial risk that the minor will suffer serious
6The Grand Jury is particularly concerned that the SDPD does not
recognize that the Victim Witness Protocol is not an answer to the
problems encountered by the Jury. It may, in fact, exacerbate problems,
if law enforcement fails to perform an independent investigation including
the interview of victims and witnesses

physical harm inflicted non-accidentally upon the minor
by the minor's parent or guardian, in that: on or about
May 9, 1989, said minor suffered and was discovered to
have a detrimental and/or traumatic condition/injury
consisting of, but not limited to, perineal tear,
lacerated fourchette, and fresh tears in the rectal
canal. Such a condition/injury would not ordinarily
occur except as the result of the unreasonable and
neglectful acts and omissions by the mother, who had
the care, custody, and control of said minor, and said
minor is in need of the protection of the Juvenile

Accompanying this petition was a form which was necessary to

justify the detention of the child without providing pre-
placement preventive services. On this form DSS CI wrote:

"Said minor was sexually molested while under the care

and supervision of her parents. The father denies
molesting the minor; the mother is denying father would
have molested the minor. Minor is unable or afraid to
tell who has molested her."7

At the May 12, detention hearing, the parents and the minor
were appointed counsel. The court ordered that there be no
contact between the minor and the parents until after the
evidentiary interview, which was scheduled within the week, and
that the Department of Social Services would subsequently have
the discretion of allowing only supervised visits. The court
also ordered that Alicia immediately be placed in counseling with
a therapist "well versed" in issues of sexual molest. A May 24
date was set for a Readiness Hearing.

By this time, the father had excused his court-appointed

attorney' and retained private counsel. Mother remained with her
court-appointed counsel. Minors are required to be represented
by court-appointed counsel. Alicia's first court-appointed
counsel ultimately left the case when he was hired by the
Juvenile Unit of the County Counsel. Only mother's counsel would
remain on this case through its duration. Father testified that
he retained counsel by borrowing funds from his parents. He
called several attorneys advertised as "juvenile attorneys" in
the Yellow Pages and hired the least expensive called. At the
7 This deceptive statement is made despite a clear and
accurate description given to the investigating detective and a
statement made to the CCP examining physician.
May 24 readiness hearing, father's counsel requested a
continuance, in order to gather further information.
On June 5, at the continued readiness hearing, father's
attorney told the court that there were some fingerprints now
available and that they were still waiting for the results of the
Rape Kit Test from the police department. Alicia's attorney
requested a dispositional trial. A June 30 discovery date was
set by the court. All attorneys were ordered by the court to
give specific discovery requirements to the District Attorney by
June 9, 1989, at 5 PM.

On June 9, an amended petition was filed on behalf of the

minor under Section 300(b) (neglect) which alleged:

"that the minor has suffered, and there is a

substantial risk that the minor will suffer serious
physical harm or illness as follows: said minor's
parents have failed adequately to supervise and protect
said minor from serious physical harm or illness and of
substantial risk thereof, in that: on or about May 9,
1989, said minor suffered and was discovered to have a
detrimental and/or traumatic injury consisting of, but
not limited to, a perineal tear . . . Such an injury
would not ordinarily occur, except as the result of the
unreasonable and neglectful acts and omissions of the
parents who had care, custody and control of said
minor, and said minor is in need of the protection of
the Juvenile Court. And further, said minor comes
within the provision of Section 300(d) of the Juvenile
Court Law of California.

On June 12, a detention hearing was held regarding the

amended petition which was now charging both neglect and molest.
Both parents entered a denial.

The Deputy D.A. assigned to this case, who was responsible

for the amended petition, explained that there was insufficient
evidence to find that either of the parents had been involved in
the rape, but there was sufficient evidence that the rape
occurred while Alicia was in the custody of her parents and could
expect to be protected. The petition was changed from molest
(Section 300d) to neglect (Section 300b).

It is important to note in reading between the lines of the

court minutes compiled by the court officer, the reports of the
social worker, and available portions of the transcript, as well
as the direct testimony of witnesses that there seemed to be an
almost immediate clash of styles between father's attorney and
everyone else in the proceedings. In particular, court officer
notes refer to frequent chastising of father's attorney by the
judicial officer.

Father's counsel was a new attorney, and this was his first
juvenile trial. He was inexperienced at Juvenile Court, and only
mother's counsel seemed to tolerate him well. This is one of the
areas of the case study which is not solely dependent upon known
"facts" but is the result of deduction and anecdotal testimony.
The inexperience of father's attorney, the "old boy" collegiality
of Juvenile Court, and the personality clash/frustration the
judicial officer experienced with father's counsel certainly
contributed to the tragic decisions of this case.


As the Jury reviewed documents and portions of transcripts

available, it is difficult to understand exactly what father's
counsel did wrong. He filed multiple discovery motions, seeking
information which was available at the time and which if produced
would have been invaluable to the defense of the case. For
example, he asked for discovery of:

1. . . . all laboratory, technician's and other reports

concerning the testing and examination of physical
evidence including but not limited to, results of rape

2. . . . production of records in the possession of the

police department, relating to all statements or
utterance by the father James B. W., Denise W., Joshua
W., and Alicia W., DSS CIII, Child Abuse Detectives, a
neighbor (K.W.), the NAVCARE treating physician, the CCP
examining physician, and any other statements made by
any other witnesses in the possession of the San Diego
Police Department relating to the police investigation
of Mr. James W.

3. . . . production of records in the possession of the San

Diego Police Department relating to this case including,
but not limited to reports, records, statements
fingerprint tests, polygraphy examination.

4. . . . any and all records, information, fingerprint

tests, relating to the names of [the serial attacker]
and [another], who were referred to by the police in
conversation with Mr. W. and the results of police
investigation regarding other possible perpetrators.
(Crossed out on this discovery petition it continues)
. . . all records relating to the police
investigation of another rape that occurred within the
last two weeks
at an address on Larkdale Street.

These discovery motions were addressed to the Deputy D.A. in the
Juvenile Dependency Unit. No information was made available to
him about either the neighborhood molests, the assault of Nicole
S. or the serial attacker's past history. The July 12
declaration by the Deputy D.A. prosecuting the serial attacker
and using Alicia's description was not given to him. In fact,
father's attorney obtained nothing prior to the dispositional
trial which gave him any leads to the identity of this man or the
facts related to the other neighborhood molests.

The DDA JUV's response to the discovery motion was the same
for almost all items requested: "This information is not
contained within the DSS file or the D.A. dependency file for
this case." Jury examination revealed that there were in fact
numerous entries in the social-worker logs relating to the other
molests and the ongoing investigation. There were documented
conversations between DSS CI and minor's therapist about the
other molests. Alicia was taken to a photo line-up where she
failed to identify the serial attacker. There were several calls
from one of the Child Abuse Unit Detectives which gave DSS CI
further information. None of this information was provided to
the father's attorney.

The Juvenile Dependency Deputy D.A. explained that the

procedure on such discovery motions at that time was for such
information to be provided by the DSS CI and the Department with
the assistance and clearance of their attorney, the County
Counsel. This Deputy D.A. stated she was completely unaware of
any information about the serial attacker or the other molests
until some point into the dispositional proceeding. When shown
the information which was available in the social worker logs,
she explained that it should have been provided to the defense
through discovery. When shown the criminal Deputy D.A. `s July,
1989 declaration asking for the serial attacker's blood and using
Alicia's description, the dependency Deputy D.A. maintained that
she should have been informed about this connection.

The Juvenile Dependency Deputy D.A. explained that while the

Juvenile Dependency Unit of the District Attorney had been
responsible for conducting dependency litigation for the
Department of Social Services, for all other purposes County
Counsel provided legal counsel. If the system had worked
correctly, DSS CI should have identified all comments made in her
logs which were covered by the discovery motion. She would have
given these to County Counsel to check for confidentiality and
legal issues. A social worker would not, if following
procedures, on her own, make the decision to exclude items from

DSS CI offered that the sections of the log which were

whited out or excluded in the discovery presented to father's
attorney would have been selected by County Counsel, if

procedures were followed. It was DSS's policy, implemented by
County Counsel, to exclude what they determined to be unnecessary
information or information which indicated a conflict between
cooperating agencies such as CPS and the Center for Child
Protection, CCP or Naval Family Advocacy.

Father's attorney addressed his discovery request to the

District Attorney, Juvenile Dependency. The Department later
argued, on appeal, that such a discovery request should properly
have been addressed to the District Attorney, Child Abuse Unit,
or District Attorney, Criminal Division. The dependency Deputy
D.A. made no attempt to contact any other units or do any
computer search in D.A. records for the name of the serial
attacker named in the request. Further, father's attorney
requested in discovery the complete log of Child Abuse
Detective's interview of Alicia, results of police investigation
regarding other possible perpetrators, names of all police
officers involved in the case. The response to this was the same
as the others: "Not contained in the DSS dependency file or the
D.A. dependency file for this case."

Father's attorney eventually sought a court order to obtain

some of this information. The request was only partially granted
as the Juvenile Dependency D.A. stated that the issue of the
perpetrator's identity would not be an issue at trial.

It was very troubling to the Jury to discover that

procedures and facile arguments about the names of divisions were
used in this way to block access to exculpatory information.
Because the Deputy D.A. had no stated intention of focusing the
jurisdictional or dispositional issues on the father as the
perpetrator she saw no value in the father's attorney's need to
prove that the father didn't do it. This is particularly
troubling as the establishment of the father's involvement in the
rape of Alicia was in fact at issue at jurisdiction, in the plea,
and at the dispositional trial, and most court orders were
premised on the supposition of the father's guilt. The "true
finding" of October 30, 1989 made after the trial was that "the
minor has been sexually abused by a parent, a member of the
household, or someone known to the parents." This finding
severely complicated reunification and reached beyond the scope
of a 300(B) petition.

The family had no money for expert witnesses or outside

testing of evidence. Father's attorney told the court that he
had no money available for experts or investigation. He did not
follow the proper procedure and contact the Alternate Defense
Counsel to request services. Testimony was taken that no one on
the Juvenile Panel was willing or available to serve as co-

The District Attorney's office knew there was another
suspect in Alicia's case. The criminal Deputy D.A.'s declaration
of July Il is clear and convincing proof of that. Furthermore,
the Deputy D.A. who filed the July 12 Declaration called minor's
therapist on July 7, and told her that there was another suspect.
Despite the mounting evidence of another perpetrator, no one
provided any of this information to the family, despite numerous
legal requests.


On July 13, the scheduled trial date for the jurisdictional

hearing, a referee was asked by the judge on the case to act as a
settlement judge. Attorneys and family had come to court
prepared for a trial with many witnesses. They sat all day while
there were discussions over a change in the petition which would
be acceptable to the defense attorneys.

Father's attorney was outspoken in his criticism of a plea.

Mother's attorney thought a plea was as good as they were going
to get at that point and that it would allow Alicia to return
home almost immediately. It is important to remember that Alicia
had now been separated from her family for more than two months
and her mother was desperate for her return. Despite his
counsel's strenuous objections, Mr. W. reluctantly agreed with
his wife and her attorney to admit to the new petition which
essentially stated that the parents had been neglectful in
allowing Alicia's molest to occur.

The Jury found this was a crucial moment in the handling of

the case which would come back to haunt this family. The Jury
also found plea bargains of this sort are common practice at
Juvenile Court and often cause long term problems. Ironically,
the Juvenile Dependency Deputy D.A. confirmed that she would not
have wanted to take this case to trial. There was no physical
evidence that the father or mother did anything neglectful. The
child was consistent in telling a detailed story about her
abduction and rape. There was no case so a makeshift plea was
cobbled together and sold to the parents on the promise their
daughter would be returned to them. It turned out to be a bill
of goods. The judicial officer made new detention orders which
directed that Alicia "could" be returned within one week with a
third-party caretaker in place. The judge further ordered that
the approval of the third-party caretaker would be left to the
"discretion of the Department of Social Services."8 The judge

further ordered psychological evaluations of the parents to be

done by a court appointed psychological evaluator. She ordered
that the parties return to court in one week if problems arose
with the third-party caretaker. From the notes made by the court
officer, it appears that everyone was in agreement that this plea
would allow Alicia to return home within the week. The court was
very specific and set specific conditions to this end.

Mr. and Mrs. W., while still in court, prior to the hearing
with the judicial officer, called Mr. W.'s mother in Missouri.
She was willing to come out immediately and serve as the third-
party caretaker. She had previously met and spent some time with
DSS CI in late May and no obstacles to her approval were

However, DSS CI sat through all of these negotiations

knowing she had no intention of approving anyone as a third-party
caretaker. She was convinced that the father was the perpetrator
and nothing would ever alter that conviction. Because she was so
sure of his guilt, she was certain that there was no condition
under which Alicia could be safe in that home. Thus, from her
viewpoint, the third-party caretaker agreement would be
stillborn. She did not voice her concerns at the time of the
plea bargain.

DSS CI did make a mandated phone call to the grandmother

ostensibly to "check her out." In fact, she told the grandmother
almost immediately that she shouldn't waste her money coming to
San Diego because Alicia would not be going home. DSS CI told
her that her son was guilty of the rape of Alicia. Although she
believed in her son's innocence, Grandmother W. told DSS CI that
if Alicia ever accused her father, she would immediately call the
police and tell DSS. DSS CI later represented to the court that
the grandmother said that she wasn't sure she could report her
8Misinterpretation of the phrase "at the discretion of the
social worker" is responsible for many of the problems at Juvenile
Court. A judge may order weekly visits "at the discretion of the
Social worker." Social workers have interpreted this as giving

son. This is contradicted by DSS CI's notes in the log.

The grandmother had successfully raised a large family. All

of her children, except Alicia's father, still live in the
immediate area. At the time, the invalid great-grandmother was
living with the grandmother. She immediately arranged for the
care of her mother and despite DSS CI discouragement came to
California to be here as Alicia's third-party caretaker. Upon
the advice of father's attorney. Grandmother W. met with a
respected, court-appointed therapist, well versed in molest
issues and had an interview/evaluation to determine her
suitability as a third party caretaker. This therapist found the
grandmother appropriate.

them the discretion of not having visits at all. Judicial
officers interpret this phrase as ordered weekly visits with the
time with the time and place to be negotiated with the social
The court had ordered a further hearing for July 21 in the
event that the Department had not yet approved a third-party
caretaker. From the July 13 date to the July 21 date, DSS CI was
orchestrating the results of that hearing as she had no intention
of seeing the deal executed. Her ally in this was the child's
court-appointed therapist.

DSS CI requested the therapist's opinion about the child

returning with a third-party caretaker and got the desired "not
in the child's best interest" response. The tragedy of that
decision for Alicia is briefly mentioned in the therapy notes
when Alicia is told she is not going to go home. Alicia tells
anyone and everyone how much she wants to go home. As recorded
in the therapy notes, she begged her "friend" (minor's therapist)
to help her get home. DSS CI's log, on July Il, 1989 summarizes
a phone call from minor's therapist,

"Her story has never wavered. She's always very clear

that father did not molest. Kid wants to go home-her
over-riding concern. Speaks positive about her dad.
If she doesn't go home, then what happens? Alicia was
in Joshua's bed when molest occurred. Won't admit to
having scary dreams."

Alicia told her second foster mother how much she wanted to go
home. Her foster mother was so moved that she conflicted with
DSS CI when she wished to testify in court that Alicia was
telling her about a man taking her through a window and that she
had no fear of her father. (DSS CI immediately moved Alicia out
of this home and reported this "infraction" to licensing.)

On July 21, DSS CI submitted a supplemental report and

stated that the third-party caretaker plan was not feasible. She
eliminated the grandmother, the pastor of the family's church, a
neighbor, and father's attorney. She did not interview the
latter three though presumably she knew father's attorney. She
stated in the supplemental report:

"The parents, despite their participation in therapy

from the onset, have continued to focus on their own
needs rather than the minor's. Each adult they have
chosen to act as a "third party caretaker" has a clear
allegiance with the parents. The parents have not
offered the name of any maternal relative or individual
who has expressed concern for the minor's safety and
emotional stability first, and expressed a willingness
to care for the minor (i.e. maternal aunts)."

She continued:

"It is obvious that her sense of trust in adults has

been violated as, if the perpetrator was someone

outside of the household, it is someone she knew well
enough to follow, or if the identity lies within the
household, her natural instinct to trust was further

. . .

"Therapy is not a "pill" that can be taken for a

specific length of time with a cure or remission at the
end of the prescribed course. The family has been
dysfunctional for several years, and have only recently
begun to cope with the issues of marriage, family and
individual dynamics. Therefore, it will be recommended
that the minor, Alicia W., be placed in a long term
licensed foster home . . ."

On July 28, all attorneys, Grandmother W., DSS CI, and the
parents were present in court. Because minor's therapist
was not in court that day, the various attorneys, the DSS CI, and
Grandmother W. had a telephone conference in the judicial
officer's chambers. The discussion centered around the minor's
therapist's opinion regarding a third-party caretaker. At no
time during this conversation was any question directed to the
grandmother by the therapist, social worker, minor's counsel, or
judge. In fact, no one spoke to her at all. The judge absented
herself from the chambers for most of the conversation, came
and rendered an opinion consistent with the result desired and
scripted by DSS CI.

Attorneys for Mr. and Mrs. W. immediately contested this

order which essentially bound the parents to the plea but
stripped them of the bargain. It was later argued, on appeal,
that the parents should have immediately moved to have the
jurisdictional plea overturned and requested a jurisdictional
trial. Father's attorney advised his client to do this.
However, the parents were told by minor's counsel and DSS CI that
if they attempted to return to the jurisdictional phase, their
son, Joshua, would be taken. The judicial officer also warned
the family that going back to the jurisdictional phase would put
the family "further behind the eight ball." The family decided,
with this input, not to take the advice of Mr. W's counsel.

The social worker logs and minor therapist's telephone logs

indicate frenetic phone calling by DSS CI to minor's therapist
prior to the phone call in chambers and prior to the July 21
hearing. Minor's therapist came to DSS CI's aid at each request
until this social worker was removed from the case in late
December. DSS CI did not want Alicia to testify in court at the
trial. She said it would be too traumatic. Alicia's therapist
concurred. Despite the court's reluctance and despite the
insistent objections of the father's attorney, the court went

along with the therapist's recommendation. It was stipulated

that Alicia was still telling a story about her abduction and
rape by a man she could describe.

In July of 1989, the police had the serial attacker in

custody and wanted Alicia to view a live line-up. On July 7,
Alicia's therapist received a phone call from the prosecuting
Deputy D.A. Minor's therapy notes read:

"P/C Dep. D.A. . . . that there had been another case

of a man breaking into child's room, abducting child
and then molesting her. Will wait for blood and semen
tests on suspect and fa before pursuing line-up with

DSS CI decided a live line-up would be too traumatic. Once

again she enlisted Alicia's therapist, who concurred. The Child
Abuse detective (SDPD DET 1) did not force the issue and Alicia
instead saw small polaroid photos and was unable to pick out the
attacker. There is no indication from therapy notes that the
possibility of an alternative suspect caused the therapist to
alter her therapeutic approach in any way. There is no
indication from CI logs that the existence of an alternative
suspect had any effect on her investigation or provision of

It is important to note at this point that minor's

therapist, the criminal D.A. on the serial attacker case, the
Child Abuse detectives, and DSS CI all knew there was another
suspect in the Alicia's case. The defense did not know this and
not one of those parties urged any caution in proceeding against
the father. Alicia's therapy continued to center around a theme
of in-home molest and becoming "strong enough to tell" or, in
other words, implicating her father.

In November 1989, at the end of the dispositional hearing

DSS CI wanted to stop all visitation between Alicia and her
family. To this end she had the support of the third foster
mother and Alicia's therapist. The foster mother reported to the
social worker and the therapist that Alicia had nightmares after
visiting with her parents and became difficult to handle. DSS CI
made visitation impossible for several weeks. The therapist then
wrote a letter to the court stating how much better the child was
without visitations and that ceasing family visits would allow
the child the "freedom to remember" what really happened to her.
The foster mother reported that the nightmares had stopped and
that Alicia was much happier. The court after hearing from the
therapist, and despite it's anger at DSS CI's direct violation of
court orders, proceeded to give the result she wanted. Alicia
did not see her family again for many months.

Defense counsel wanted another psychological evaluation of
Alicia with a consideration toward a change of therapist. DSS CI
and Alicia's therapist presented a united front and successfully
delayed an additional psychological evaluation and blocked
discussion of a change in therapist.

Early into its investigation, the Jury speculated that there

had to be some reason for the enthusiastic collusion of the
social worker and the therapist, later joined by the foster
mother and the prosecuting D.A. in the serial assault case,
(subsequently the Deputy County Counsel in Alicia's case). The
Jury ultimately concluded that the connection had more to do with
a very similar philosophy and bias than with anything more
sinister. In fact, the Jury found no proof of "conspiracy" among
any of the principals in this case. In some ways this was more
disturbing because just like other similar cases, the "system"
purposely but mindlessly pushed it along the "in house" molest


The contested dispositional hearing was set for August 31,

1989. Immediately prior to this hearing there was a substitution
of minor's counsel. Minor's first counsel immediately joined the
office of the County Counsel. Once again, DSS CI put together a
"Social Study Report" which would enjoy the status of evidence in
this proceeding. She quoted extensively from letters she had
solicited from the CCP Director, the CCP evidentiary social
worker, and the CCP examining physician letter. She also quoted
from the CCP evidentiary social worker's narrative of the
evidentiary interview. In addition, these letters were appended
to the report. She also quoted from a July 19 letter solicited
from Alicia's therapist, as follows:

"I believe at this point in time, Alicia has so well

defended about the molest that she does not distinguish
between fact and fantasy. In her mind, she absolutely
believes that she was abducted to her brother's bedroom
window by an unknown assailant. Whether or not this is
in fact a reality or not, she believes it completely.
In my experience, this is not unusual. Children who
have been confronted with a terrible trauma over which
they have no control and which is too horrible to
remember will often construct a version of reality
which they can live with and which they believe to be
the truth."

The therapist's notes indicate that Alicia gave great detail

to this story of an abduction. Unfortunately, this therapist was
the only one who had access to Alicia and the only one who heard
these details.

DSS CI's Social Study of August 31 concluded:

"The evidence continues to indicate that the minor,

Alicia, was not sexually assaulted by an outside
intruder. She was assaulted by an individual she knew
and whom was already living in her household. Sadly,
that party chooses to remain silent in an effort to
protect themselves from acknowledging their part in
betraying the trust and love of a child. In addition,
the lack of emotional support demonstrated by the
minor's mother and her clear alignment with the father
further undermines the minor's ability to trust in her
mother's ability to protect her . . ."

". . . I concur with Dr. C.'s evaluation that the

perpetrator in the household is now at very high risk
of criminal prosecution if Alicia tells an accurate
story, so it could be anticipated that he will do
everything in his power to prevent her from doing so.
If Alicia is allowed to have contact with this person,
it is predictable that every encounter will be utilized
to influence her and to continue to deny the true
circumstances. The perpetrator may also be able to
influence Alicia's mother to keep Alicia frightened.
If he is given private access to Alicia, she is at
extreme risk for emotional abuse, for a repeated sexual
abuse, and for physical abuse. The perpetrator has
already demonstrated his propensity for violence by the
injuries that he caused her in May. Further attacks
could be more violent given his present
motivation . . ."

". . . It is hoped that given the new evidence9 and

the fact that the minor has Chlamydia, which is a
sexually transmitted disease, that the minor's parents
will acknowledge that the sexual assault against the
minor occurred within the family home."

It should be noted that the "new evidence" consisted of the

two letters from the CCP Director and examining physician, the
letter from the CCP evidentiary social worker, the court ordered
psychological evaluation of the parents, and the diagnosis of
9All new "evidence", except the chlamydia, was actually
opinion. This "opinion" was based on flawed information and was
also tainted by bias.
The chlamydia diagnosis is an interesting side story to this
case. It is doubtful that anyone will ever know whether or not
Alicia actually had chlamydia. A second test (after she was on
antibiotics) was negative. Mr. W., at his request, was tested
immediately for chlamydia; the results were negative. There is
no indication in any of the records reviewed that the serial
attacker or any of his victims were ever tested.

The dispositional trial went for days and concluded on

October 31. The court notes from these days of trial, the
transcripts which are available, and the testimony of the
participants paint a picture of an exercise in futility. The
social studies done by DSS CI were entered into evidence without
protest from the defense. They abounded with inference and
hearsay. From that point it was an uphill battle for the defense
to try and disprove statements in the Social Study. Further, Mr.
W. had no money to spend on expert testimony and evidence

After the first day of trial, father's counsel asked to have

a court-appointed co-counsel. He was hoping that this would
provide the necessary funds for expert witnesses and examination
of evidence. Mother's court-appointed counsel requested fees for
the examination of the physical evidence and was refused on the
ground that the mother couldn't have raped Alicia, and it was
therefore inappropriate for Mom's counsel to be testing for

Ironically, in a sea of hearsay, the prosecution objected to

the description of her assailant given by Alicia to the Child
Abuse detectives as hearsay. The court sustained the objection.
Only Alicia's in court statement could be heard and DSS CI and
Alicia's therapist successfully blocked her appearance.

The decision to allow Alicia to testify was left to her

therapist. It was the court's earlier order that the therapist
and the Department social worker worked together to prepare the
child to appear in court. Instead, on October 18, the court was
told that the therapist was on an extended vacation. Minor's
counsel joined with the Department social worker in opposition to
Alicia testifying. She was never produced in court and her
statement did not become evidence. The court summary of the
closing arguments is interesting in retrospect.
10Mother was a considered suspect though no evidence was ever
produced to implicate her.
Deputy D.A. states that the minor is in danger and in
denial as the perpetrator is unknown. [She ignores
Alicia's accurate description given to the child abuse
detective on May 9 and her statement to the Center for
Child Protection examining physician.]

Mother's attorney challenges Dr. C.'s expert testimony

on the basis that he is not a psychologist and is out
of his depth commenting on motivations for people's
behaviors. Cited similar rapes in the neighborhood and
similarity of Alicia's description to that of the
neighborhood suspect. Minor has never named the father
as the perpetrator.

Father's attorney argued that the parents pled nolo to

get Alicia home. He stated that Dr. C.'s testimony had
been refuted. Alicia had been shown to have no fear
towards her father. Asks why DSS didn't call the
therapist as a witness. Sees no danger to child in the

Minor's attorney said that DSS has met its burden to

keep minor out of the home. Cited all of the CCP
letters and statements. Even if the perp isn't FA,
minor's home isn't safe if minor can't disclose to

Dep. D.A. closes with the hope that the court heavily
weighs Dr. C.'s testimony. Evidence of the other
rapist is "red herring." DSS isn't recommending
termination of parental rights but only wants to ensure
minor's safety. Cited differences in impressions of
minor's demeanor. If parents are upset with the
system, how can they follow orders?

These arguments are given just as they were written by the court
officer in the court summary to both illustrate the importance
placed on the Center for Child protection letters and testimony
and to clearly show that "neglect" was not the issue at
disposition. Minor's counsel, as always, joined with the
Department's argument.

The Jury assumes that from testimony, minor's counsel was

aware that her child-client was desperate to go home. Minor's
counsel did not do any independent investigation or evaluation of
this position. The Jury did not subpoena this counsel's records
and therefore cannot document whether there was consultation with
Alicia. The closing arguments of the D.A. and minor's counsel
continue to hammer on the failure of the child to identify the
perpetrator. Given the fact that this child had given a complete
description of a perpetrator to the police and repeated
descriptions to her therapist, the conclusion is inescapable.
The only description this prosecution and ultimately the court
was ever going to hear and accept was that of the father.

The true finding of October 30, 1989 made after the trial
was that "the minor has been sexually abused by a parent, a
member of the household, or someone known to the parents." The

court then made specific orders for the future. (Procedurally,
the case should have been transferred from DSS CI to a new social
worker in the Family Maintenance and Reunification division
immediately. This did not occur for two months and required a
court order to do so.)

The judge ordered that visitation with the parents was to

continue in a therapeutic setting. (By this time there were
serious problems with the visitations supervised by the foster
parents.) The brother, Josh, was also to have visits. The
parents were ordered to attend a parenting class which focused on
the "inner world of the child." No such parenting class was ever

There were no visits for seven weeks. DSS CI testified that

she was ill through much of the next six weeks. On December 5,
1989, a special hearing was called by mother's attorney. A memo
of that date states:

"The Judicial Officer ordered DSS CI and her supervisor

to appear in court and explain DSS actions. The J.O.
ordered DSS to comply with her orders A.S.A.P. re
therapy, specific parenting classes, and visitation and
a written report re: prompt transfer to FM & R. The
judge also ordered therapists to communicate with each
other by monthly letter. She stated that if therapists
do not comply they will be cited. The court officer
was concerned about the chastising and overbearing tone
of the hearing. I am concerned about the court making
orders to the therapists and what impact that will have
on our working relationship with therapists in the

The court officer's notes also reflected the court's

displeasure that its orders had been ignored. Orders were given
that a letter from minor's therapist be prepared within two weeks
with specifics of Alicia's problems and how they are being dealt
with in therapy. DSS CI stated to the court that she had stopped
the family visits at the therapist's request because during a two
week period when there had been no visitation Alicia's therapist
had noted improvement.

On December 21, the case was transferred to DSS SW2.

Another special hearing was held, and upon recommendation of the
therapist there was to be no contact with the parents without
approval by the therapist. Minor's counsel, supported the
In January 1990, County Counsel replaced the District
Attorney's office as counsel for the Department of Social
Services. The Deputy D.A. who had prosecuted the serial attacker

case joined County Counsel at this time and was immediately
placed on the Alicia W. case. She remained on the case until
minutes before its termination in 1991. This attorney was aware
of Alicia's case while a District Attorney. She had written the
July 12 declaration to take the attacker's blood. On July 7,
1989, she contacted Alicia's therapist to tell her there was
another suspect in the rape and she was the prosecuting D.A. on
all of the neighborhood molests. She was involved in the
beginning stages of the prosecution for the sexual assault of
Nicole S. She and the Department were aware that Alicia's father
was still asserting his innocence and was frustrated in his
attempts to gather further information about the serial attacker.

The Jury is not the proper body to make a determination of

the propriety of County Counsel's decision to assign this
particular deputy to this case. The family was aware of her role
in the criminal prosecution of the serial attacker, but the
family did not know this attorney was familiar with Alicia's case
as a result of her role in that prosecution. The previous other
involvement of this Deputy County Counsel while the Deputy D.A.
in Alicia's case was never disclosed.

From October 1989 until June 1990, Alicia had no contact

with her parents. There were minor court appearances over issues
but none were significant until May 1990. By this time the case
had been transferred to DSS SW3. This social worker had received
the case from DSS SW2 with a cautionary note about the bias of
the therapist and the foster parents. DSS SW3 met with Alicia
and Alicia told her that her father hadn't done it and that she
wanted to see her parents. She told DSS SW 3 that . ....
therapist) thinks my dad did it. She told me. I've told my
therapist. I love my parents and want to see' them. She doesn't
hear me."

A required twelve-month hearing was approaching. DSS SW3

started to prepare for that hearing. She was in favor of having
Alicia testify. The court also wanted the child to testify. DSS
SW3 went back over the case and was concerned that given the true
finding and the terms of the reunification plan, reunification
could not occur unless Alicia named an "acceptable perpetrator",
i.e. her father. She was joined in this concern by the therapists
consulted on the case. DSS SW3 asked for clarification from the
court. The court said that it was not necessary for Alicia to
name the perpetrator. It is not clear from the discussion on
this issue just how the court was going to reunify Alicia with
her parents in light of a true finding of such a violent sexual
assault attributed to a member of the household.

A hearing was held May 1,1990. DSS SW3 recommended that

visitation with the mother commence immediately and that visits
with her brother also re-commence and be regular. The court

ordered the matter continued to June. The court further ordered
that all therapists be present for this hearing and that the
minor be present to testify. She asked that the two children
have co-joint therapy with the brother's therapist.

As the date approached for the twelve-month hearing, and

faced with the demands of the court, the therapist persisted in
her attempts to get Alicia to name her father as the perpetrator.
The therapy notes grew increasingly intense. The therapist and
foster mother testified that the therapist told the foster mother
that she should begin to exert pressure on the child to
"disclose." Alicia had described to her therapist a perpetrator
numerous times. The therapist refused to accept this
description. The therapist told Alicia for a year that she knew
it was her father and that it was "OK" to tell.

Reading the therapist's notes, in parallel with the DSS

file, it is clear that there was a race against time. In a June
14 hearing, the judicial officer authorizes visits with Josh, her
mother and ultimately her father. Alicia last describes the same
perpetrator she has described for over a year on June 20.
Finally, on June 22, before having a visit with her mother,
Alicia named her father as the perpetrator.

Alicia left with her foster family shortly thereafter for a

month-long trip to Disneyworld. A July 6, 1990 assessment for
the 12 month review states that Alicia is adoptable and that a
parental rights termination hearing is appropriate. DSS SW3's
July 25 review report differed dramatically from her May 1 Social
Study. It stated that reunification with the parents was
unlikely within six months and recommended that court-mandated
reunification services be terminated.

On July 11, shortly after Alicia's "disclosure", Alicia's

mother attempted suicide. The combined pressure of the
"disclosure" and the pressure being placed on her by her own
attorney to leave her husband was too much.

Alicia testified in chambers on August 6, 1990 as part of

the contested 6 month review hearing. Alicia's testimony is
particularly enlightening in hindsight.

"Father's Attorney: Okay. Did you and . . .

(therapist) try and decide what
story would be the best for you to
talk about?

Alicia: I talked to . . . (therapist) so

much that I just got-she just kept
talking about it and I just got
sick of hearing it and I just told.

Father's Attorney: And what did you get sick of
hearing, Alicia?

Alicia: Did I know that my dad did it.

Father's Attorney: And you got sick of her telling you


Alicia: She said it every time I went

Father's Attorney: Every single time?

Alicia: Uh-huh.

Father's Attorney: So that's been going on for a

pretty long time?

Alicia: Yes.

Father's Attorney: So finally you decided you would

say what she wanted you to say?

Alicia: Yes."

One could argue that this portion of the transcript is taken

out of context. However, the entire transcript of testimony is
disturbing. There are silences of up to a minute which are noted
in the record. The child seems either unable to recall the
question or unwilling to give an answer. She gives no detail of
the "disclosed" rape by her father. In testimony to the Judge
she expresses her very positive feelings about all members of her
family and tells the Judge that she would feel safe at home and
safe with her grandparents.

The contested six month review hearing continued through

August and on into September. The minor's therapist testified and
continued to recommend no contact with the parents because the
father was in denial and the mother was confused. This hearing
concluded with the court granting permission for Alicia's brother
to spend a month with his paternal grandparents and stating that
it was not going to make a "true finding" whether or not the
father was the perpetrator.

In November, 1990, there was a further hearing to determine

long term placement for Alicia. DSS SW3 recommended long term
foster care. She had observed Alicia with her mother and
determined that it would not be in her best interest to break
this bond. The foster parents wanted adoption. The foster
mother testified that they had been told from the time of
Alicia's "disclosure" that adoption would be the plan. The court
ordered that visits with the mother were to continue in a
therapeutic setting, that adoption should not be discussed with

Alicia, that Alicia was well-bonded with her mother and that long
term foster care placement or guardianship would be the permanent
plan. The foster mother testified that she had been led by the
Department to believe that this hearing would result in a long
term plan of adoption and that she was very bitter about the
outcome of the hearing.

Predictably, like many other court orders in this case, this

one was immediately broken. The minor's therapist and the foster
parents both acknowledge that they violated this order. The
foster parents began to complain bitterly about the mother's
visitation with Alicia and Alicia's contact with her brother.
Once again, they claimed that these visits brought on nightmares,
disruptive behavior, poor attention span, etc. Court orders
allowed for Alicia to call her mother. This, too, became an
issue. The foster parents claimed that Alicia never wanted to
call her mother and the mother believed that Alicia was
discouraged from calling her. The foster parents did not want
the parents to give gifts. If there had been any doubt before,
it became obvious to the parents and to their attorneys that the
foster parents had an agenda of adopting Alicia. In fact, even
before the time Alicia "disclosed", the foster parents were told
by the Department that they had a very good chance of adopting

By this time Alicia had been appointed a Special Advocate

through Voices for Children. This advocate became embroiled in
the case. When she first entered the case she met with the
parents. They told her their story. She asked who could confirm
that story. She was told by the parents that the Naval
Investigator would. This investigator had earlier told Mr. W.
that he believed he was innocent. The Voices advocate met with
the Naval Investigator and he was, according to her report,
convinced of the father's guilt. From that point, she did not
question the father's guilt and clearly aligned herself with the
foster parents. The foster mother testified that the Voices for
Children advocate was the only party involved who helped them.
Even when it became clear that the father was not the
perpetrator, the advocate continued her support of adoption.

Alicia turned ten years old in November, 1990. Children ten

and above are given a voice in decisions about personal placement
in Juvenile Court. By early in 1991, Alicia was expressing
11 The foster parents had a poor relationship with the
Department and frequently threatened to return Alicia because of
through her foster parents, her attorney, and her advocate that
adoption was her choice. The Department began termination
procedures, and Alicia was placed with the permanency unit and
Social Worker IV (DSS PP SWIV).

As these proceedings were taking place in Juvenile Court,

the criminal proceedings against Alicia's father were just
beginning. Alicia "disclosed" in late June, 1990. She
immediately left on an extended vacation. She was interviewed
upon her return at The Center for Child Protection. One of the
same Child Abuse detectives who had investigated in May and June,
1989 came back on the case. He did the police work-up for the
D.A. filing. He presented the case for D.A. review by the end of
November. In December, 1990, a D.A. investigator visited the
serial attacker in prison. The serial attacker told this
detective that at the time of the rape of Alicia he was avoiding
her neighborhood. Even though the D.A.'s own record and the
prosecution of the man directly conflicted with that statement,
it was not challenged.

In December, 1990, Mr. W. was arrested and arraigned. The

preliminary hearing was held in late February, 1991, by which
time Mr. W. had retained a criminal attorney. The criminal
attorney immediately asked for a review of the physical evidence.
As discussed in the section on investigation, the semen was found
in early March. From that time until the "true finding of
innocence" the criminal case was essentially put on hold.

The criminal Deputy D. A., as stated earlier, immediately

notified County Counsel of his findings. He assumed that
juvenile proceedings, like criminal proceedings, would
essentially remain in place until the results of the semen
analysis were complete. Interestingly, the first mention of DNA
or semen in social worker logs is found on August 28,
1991-nearly six months after the discovery. The social workers
may have known about the testing but there is no indication of
this in the notes. There are frequent notes of phone calls with
the Deputy County Counsel on the case but no mention of new
physical evidence. The Deputy District Attorney and Deputy
County Counsel acknowledge that the Deputy County Counsel was
informed of the "new" evidence immediately.

That the juvenile proceeding would be put on hold was to

prove an erroneous assumption. Reading the file, the Jury
concludes that, from this point on, County Counsel, allied with
an uninformed minor's counsel and Voices Advocate, was in a race
against time to arrange for Alicia's adoption prior to the
availability of the DNA test results. The Department's position,
urged by County Counsel from April, 1991, on, was that the
identity of a perpetrator was irrelevant since the petition and
"true finding" against the parents was not sexual molest but
neglect in allowing the rape to occur. After two years, under
orders all premised on the father as the perpetrator, the
Department's position was "it just doesn't matter" when the
evidence suggested the father's innocence. The Jury is deeply
troubled by the facile and disingenuous nature of this position.

Father's and mother's attorneys, in Juvenile Court, moved
repeatedly for continuances in the proceedings. The Department,
minor's counsel, and the special advocate all opposed.
Continuances were denied by the referee on the case. The defense
was reduced to fighting for time. Father's criminal attorney
substituted in as counsel in the juvenile case and asked for in
camera review of the entire file and social worker notes. This
was granted over the objections of County Counsel, minor's new
co-counsel, and the advocate. (It should be mentioned at this
point that minor's new co-counsel. who came on the case at this
time, was the same supervising D.A. who screened the case and
played a major role in the plea bargain.) Ten days later,
father's defense counsel submitted points and authorities in
support of review of therapy notes. The judicial officer granted
an in camera review of these notes over the same objections.

Meanwhile in criminal court, father's defense counsel (the

same attorney as in Juvenile Court) subpoenaed the therapy notes.
Predictably, the therapist, the Department, minor's counsel, and
the advocate all moved to quash. After appropriate review by the
criminal court and the Juvenile Court judicial officer,
expurgated notes were provided to counsel. The therapy notes
were given by the defense to the same psychologist who had
earlier done a court-appointed evaluation. This expert's analysis
of the therapy notes, the two evidentiary videos, and other
materials in the case resulted in a chilling and compelling
evaluation which unequivocally recommended against adoption of
Alicia. However, this expert's opinion was ignored by the court
when the defense asked for its continuances.

In August, 1991, while awaiting the results of the DNA

testing, father's defense counsel asked for a continuance until
the results were available. Deputy County Counsel opposed on the
grounds that father's perpetration of the rape was not the issue
and that this was termination of parental rights based on a
neglect petition. Mother's attorney argued that the case had
never been treated as a neglect case. Minor's counsel argued
against a continuance. The referee refused to grant a
continuance. The hearing went on and father's counsel argued on
the basis of inadequate counsel at the jurisdiction phase,
failure of the Department to consider placing Alicia with her
grandmother in MO and failure to order an ICPC. County Counsel
agreed to stipulate to minor's bonding with mother but still
wished to terminate parental rights, as did minor's counsel. In
September father's request that a judge instead of a referee hear
the termination proceeding was denied.
In October, 1991, a final termination hearing was set. All
parties appeared. One of mother's attorneys realized that the
statutory notice had not been properly served and the hearing was
rescheduled to November. The Jury is convinced that given the
momentum of the case, if this hearing had gone forward it would

have resulted in a termination of parental rights and a freeing
of Alicia for adoption.

By this time, father's attorney and mother's attorney had

reviewed the therapy notes and the social study logs. They took
the position that the minor had been subjected to therapy which
had the effect of brainwashing her. They also discovered that
the Deputy County Counsel, the same Deputy County Counsel who had
been on the case since January, 1990, and who was the prosecuting
D.A. on the serial attacker case had had contact with Alicia's
case almost from its inception. They moved to recuse the County
Counsel on the grounds of conflict of interest and appearance of
conflict of interest. On November 13, 1990, this County Counsel
stated to the court that as the Deputy D.A. who took the plea and
prosecuted the serial attacker she knew that there were
significant differences in M.O. (modus operandi) between the
crimes he was convicted of and Alicia's case. On page 2 of
County Counsel's November 12, 1991, opposition papers to the
recusal motion, she stated "blood and semen tests in process in
July, 1989, were not conducted under my direction." As already
noted, the declaration to obtain blood for purposes of connecting
the attacker with Alicia W. and Nicole S. was filed by this same
attorney when she was the D.A. on the that case. There is no way
to reconcile these two documents.



The Grand Jury has no expertise in psychological or

therapeutic modalities. Review of therapist intervention will be
minimal and focus only on obvious problems. The Jury strongly
urges the Department and Juvenile Court to obtain competent
professional expertise to review this aspect of the Alicia W.
case and to examine the use of therapists and evaluators in
Juvenile Court. Alicia W.s, case had numerous therapists.
While the Jury has never attempted to determine how much money
was spent on therapists and psychological evaluations, the sum
must be considerable. Of special concern is the premium placed
on CHAMPUS, private insurance, victim/witness cases where the
therapist is very well compensated.

Each family member had a therapist. In addition, there were

numerous psychological evaluations done throughout the duration
of the case.
At the time of detention, May 12, 1989, Alicia was court
ordered into therapy with a therapist "well versed in issues of
sexual molest". Alicia had not been molested; she had been
raped. Consistent with Juvenile Court and Department of Social
Services procedures, Alicia was placed with a therapist known to

DSS CI. The social worker had prior contact with this therapist.
Given the complexities of the case, placing the child with an
M.F.C.C., as opposed to a psychologist, without any supervision
seems highly questionable. A more qualified therapist was
suggested early on in this case; certainly a highly qualified
psychologist should have been assigned.

In some cases the problems of acquiring a qualified

therapist could be blamed on a lack of funds and the low amount
paid by the county to court ordered therapists ($40.00/hour). In
this case, the father's military benefits were paying over
$100.00 per visit for two visits per week. The parents were
expected to and did co-pay $5.00 per visit.

The fact that there was no supervision of the therapist is

disturbing in that the father's benefits administration requires
a referral by a psychologist and that reports be sent to a
supervising psychologist. Testimony was taken that Alicia was
referred by a physician who saw her one time, did not do an
examination, and was unaware that he was the supervising
physician of record.

The mother had a therapist prior to the rape. She was found
qualified by the court. There were several attempts to remove
her and replace her with someone who would be more amenable to
the Department's position. It was felt that this therapist
accommodated the mother's denial and was not being sufficiently
demanding that the mother accept the fact that the father was the
perpetrator. This pressure escalated after Alicia said her dad
was the perpetrator.

The father's court-appointed therapist was neutral in the

beginning. He became increasingly upset with the course the case
took. He was concerned about the level of competence of Alicia's
therapist. He increasingly believed that the father had been
falsely accused. The Department tried to remove him from the
case after Alicia named the father on the grounds that he was
accommodating the father's denial.

The Jury has considerable concern that some evaluations in

the Juvenile Court are too goal oriented and less than objective.
They fail to look at all of the sources of information and
evaluators frequently are limited to the information given them
by the Department of Social Services. The Jury was troubled by
the failure of psychologists to demand access to all sources of
This report will not detail the failures of Alicia's
therapist. However, the notes are replete with the therapist's
attempts to obtain a "disclosure" from Alicia. The Jury was
particularly disturbed with the many comments in the notes about
how much Alicia "liked her". These seemed irregular. Alicia was

taught about masturbation without any parental input or any
apparent interest by the child. She was told about her mother's
alleged rape by the mother's father without a release from the

The Jury suggests that the Juvenile Court have available to

them a highly trained objective professional available to
supervise therapy and to review therapeutic procedures. The Jury
has substantial concerns that, based on review of other cases,
other therapists on the court-approved list may be utilizing
similar techniques.


The handling of this case by DSS for two and a half years,
and in particular the involvement of the front end Court
Investigative Unit and the back end Permanency Placement Plan
Unit, was poor. However, it is important to also note that there
were two social workers from the Family Maintenance and
Reunification Unit who tried to get the case back on track. The
Grand Jury has already voiced its strong concerns about both of
the other Units in "FAMILIES IN CRISIS". Recommendations about
these units were made and most of these recommendations are in
the process of being implemented.

Once the Department recognized the serious injustice it had

caused, it made efforts to provide relief to the family. It
offered to pay for the subsequent therapy for the child. What it
did not do was tell either the child, the family, or a very
bitter foster family that it was sorry. It did not offer to
reimburse this family for the expenses it had incurred. The
County is now subject to a substantial law suit which perhaps
could have been avoided with an immediate more humane response.


Statements made by, and a review of the written record of,

the Deputy County Counsel vertically assigned to this case
illuminate the obsessiveness with which County Counsel continued
to push for termination of parental rights and the adoption of
this child. Even after Alicia had been returned to her home and
the criminal court had a "true finding of innocence," the Deputy
County Counsel not only rigorously defended her earlier position
but severely criticized the Grand Jury for interfering, the
leadership in the Department of Social Services for responding,
and County Counsel for stipulating to the withdrawal in her
absence. She saw no reason why there should have been any hurry
to return this child. She still offered many scenarios for how
the father could have been involved and months later refused to
answer when asked whether she still thought the father was guilty

of the sexual assault of his daughter.

This Deputy County Counsel was the same Deputy District

Attorney who prosecuted the man who most likely assaulted Alicia.
In July of 1989, this Deputy DA filed a declaration requesting
the blood of a serial attacker who was in custody for sexually
molesting several little girls who lived in the same Navy housing
unit as Alicia. She was attempting to connect him with Alicia
and another sexually assaulted child who also lived in Navy
housing. In attempting to obtain this blood she used verbatim
portions of the description Alicia gave in her initial
description and commented on the similarity of the method of
operations in these attacks. This document was buried and
undiscoverable by the defense until Grand Jury involvement.

At the time of the Grand Jury's initial involvement in this

case, the Deputy County Counsel was away for an extended
vacation. The Department acted quickly and stipulated to
reunification, unsupervised visitation to Mrs. W., and a stay on
the imminent .26 hearing. By the time the Deputy County Counsel
returned from vacation, the reunification process had begun.
There were still two other motions before the court. One was for
the recusal of the Deputy County Counsel and another was for the
withdrawal of the original neglect petition. Copley Press also
filed a separate motion for access to court files and a presence
at all future proceedings.

The Deputy County Counsel filed responsive papers protesting

her recusal. Investigation of the case and close scrutiny of the
facts stated in those papers suggest that this attorney be
referred to the State Bar for a determination of whether there
has been a violation of professional ethics.

In 1991-92 Grand Jury Report No. 4, "Problem Areas in the

Office of County Counsel", there was discussion of the Grand Jury
involvement in the motion to set aside the admission of neglect.
The Grand Jury wrote a confidential letter to the County Counsel
strongly suggesting that in the interest of justice and to
protect the County from further liability, it would be advisable
to stipulate to this motion. (A true finding of "innocent" had
already been made in the criminal court.) The Grand Jury
strongly suggested that County Counsel respond to this request
within 36 hours. No response was forthcoming. The Jury foreman
contacted the County Chief Administrative Officer. That
afternoon the Deputy County Counsel recused herself, the
Department stipulated to set aside the petition, jurisdiction was
terminated, and the court offered its apology to the family.
Social workers assigned to the case as well as the other
attorneys on this case and in the D.A. `5 office stated that this
case was controlled by the vertically placed Deputy Counsel.
There were times when she frustrated the Departments attempts to

help this family reunify. These allegations are strongly
supported by the written record.


The San Diego Police Department investigation of this

particular crime was an unfortunate mix of failure to follow
proper procedures and negligence, leavened with an unfortunate
dose of bad luck. The Grand Jury chose not to issue micro-
management recommendations to the SDPD in "Families in Crisis".
Instead, it recommended that policies and procedures be examined
and that the SDPD report back to the Jury with the improvements
it has made. A written response to this Grand Jury recommendation
is still forthcoming. It is hoped that with this report and with
the specifics included on the failure of the police department to
conduct an adequate investigation and to properly perform its
duties in the examination of evidence, the SDPD will determine to
fully respond to the Grand Jury recommendation.


The District Attorney's office was involved in this case at

two stages. The handling of the case at dependency was
marginally competent. The response to the discovery request was
inadequate and there was insufficient evidence at the time of the
petition for the 300 (D) and later the 300 (B).

The criminal prosecution was weak. The deputy D.A. assigned

to the case did not adequately review the file of the other
suspect or he would have discovered the July Il, 1989,
declaration linking the suspect to Alicia. There does not appear
to have ever been any attempt to consider seriously the facts of
the case from the perspective that just maybe Mr. W. was not the

The criminal D.A. kept County Counsel well-informed of the

progress (such as it was) of the physical evidence in the case.
His stated assumption that this would be sufficient to stop or
delay the proceedings is less than ingenuous as he was in
frequent contact with the Deputy County Counsel on this case and
was well aware that she was proceeding as fast as possible to
terminate parental rights.

The SDPD criminalist lab failed to find the physical

evidence for two years. Then, when the evidence was found, the DA
did not immediately announce this find to the defense. Moreover,
did more critically, it did not expedite the testing of this
evidence. Instead it was seven months before the testing was
completed. The Jury has been informed that the tests themselves
take less than one month. The failure by the D.A. to expedite

testing, in recognition that perhaps a grave injustice had
occurred, was insensitive both to the family and to the liability
of this County.


This case was vertically assigned at its inception to one

judicial officer. It remained with that judicial officer until
some time after she was assigned to another court. Despite a
neglect plea and a statement by the court that the disposition
trial was not going to focus on the rape of Alicia but on the
neglect petition, the trial was almost completely about the rape
and attempting to connect the father with this deed. Further
this judicial officer made repeated unenforced court orders. The
record reflects that even though this judge consistently
expressed her displeasure at social worker failure to follow
court orders, she allowed DSS CI to repeatedly break her orders
in order to obtain the results desired by the social worker.

The referee, assigned to this case in its later stages,

twice failed to grant a continuance despite the existence of new
evidence which might exonerate the father. He ruled for the
Department that the guilt or innocence of the father was
irrelevant in a neglect petition. This decision ignored the
history of the case. This referee did preside over the final
stages of this case and expressed his apologies to the family on
the final day of court when the neglect petition was withdrawn.


It was suggested that this report be called "a parade of

horribles in a system that must be fixed." Sadly, what is unique
about this case is not the number of mistakes that were made.
What is unique is that analysis of DNA which had gone detected 20
months ultimately exonerated the father and thereby forced the
system to confront those mistakes. In most cases there is no
physical evidence. The Grand Jury has reported this case in
detail in the hopes that the "horribles" experienced by Alicia
and Alicia's family in their separate travails through the
Juvenile Justice System of San Diego County need never be



You might also like