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They mingle with AA’s traditional clientele, ordinary citizens who are voluntarily seeking help with their drinking problems from a group whose main tenets is anonymity.(When telling often-harrowing stories of their alcoholism, the recovering drinkers introduce themselves only by their first names.) Forced attendance seems at odds with the original traditions of the organization, which state that the “only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” So far, AA has declined to caution members about potentially dangerous peers or to create separate meetings for convicted criminals.“We do not discriminate against any prospective AA member, even if he or she comes to us under pressure from a court, an employer, or any other agency,” the public information officer at New York’s central office wrote in a June email.“We cannot predict who will recover, nor have we the authority to decide how recovery should be sought by any other alcoholic.” Friends and family members say that Earle gained little lasting medical or spiritual benefit from AA.“Everybody loved Karla.” * * * Karla Brada Mendez was born on Sept. She was a talented athlete and a gifted linguist, fluent in her mother’s native Czech and her Mexican-born father’s Spanish.After high school, Karla took classes at a community college and worked full time in a series of jobs she hoped might ignite a deeper interest.She played softball and the saxophone and took kickboxing classes with her sister Sasha.
In the spring of 2011, Karla Brada Mendez finally seemed happy.Court records show that Eric Allen Earle repeatedly relapsed and turned violent when drunk, lashing out at family members, his ex-wife and people close to him.By the time he and Karla crossed paths, judges had granted six restraining orders against him.At one point, dismayed by her lack of progress in the world, she saw a psychiatrist, who diagnosed depression.She kept this a secret, riddled with guilt that her immigrant parents had sacrificed so much for her middle-class comfort: her airy, childhood ranch home had a pool, cedars that pierced the California sky and hummingbirds that buzzed in the garden.