Killing of 12-step (Narcotics Anonymous) program sponsor raised fears

 Everyone needs to know that AA and NA and all 12 step programs have no one in charge in each group, that there are no trained facilitators of any kind, and that includes SPONSORS, that the secretaries running the group could also be an oldtimer predator of sorts and are also not trained and that 12 step program/meetings are NOT A PROFESSIONAL SETTING of ANY KIND! This is not the first murder like this.  The following story needs to be told and NA and AA need to make safety measures for their own members and they also need to tell Hollywood to stop lying about what goes on in 12 step meetings and it’s culture. We are getting alot of complaints here about controlling and abusive sponsors. The Public at Large needs to know that a Sponsor is just an ordinary AA/NA member. They are not trained, they are not professionals, they could be nuts, they could be scammers, they could be sexual predators. Not only are there NO RULES, no  Guidelines or polices in the current AA structure, there is a serious covering up and member on member abuse and non support when an oldtimer abuses a newer person. Not that this is what happened here. We dont know, but we are tired of the opposite approach of giving the credit to AA and NA as if it is some special safe and wonderful place WHICH IT IS NOT!!!

Here is a story I was told by an NA Board member. A few years back there was a complaint that a registered Sex offender was secretary of a young persons meeting. The FBI/Police  told NA headquarters to tell him to step down. The NAWS said ” oh we can’t do that, we don’t tell our members how to act” …..the FBI/police told them “you tell him to step down or we are going in to get him.” They called the predator and told him to step down.  Why do these steppers think they are special and above the law?

The next story is more horrifying. A woman called NA hotline. A man answered the phone. He went over to help her…..and he raped her. At that point NA began to change their service structure seeing that there were serious problems in thinking a group could and would run the big bad Nonprofits that AA and NA have become.

The sh*t is hitting the fan for sure. Now here is the story about the murder…

Friends say man arrested in murder had been counseled by the victim

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013
  • Charles Michael Middleton

The man accused of killing Charles Middleton at his south Charlotte home Saturday morning was a man he’d sponsored while involved in a Narcotics Anonymous program years ago, people close to the situation say.

On Monday, Christopher Paul Huffman was taken into custody in Casa Grande, Ariz., more than 2,000 miles from the scene of the shooting on Elmhurst Road in the Sedgefield neighborhood adjacent to Dilworth.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg homicide detectives traveled to Arizona on Monday to interview Huffman, who had no criminal record. Police have not divulged a possible motive in the killing or said whether Middleton’s sponsorship work with Huffman made him a target.

It’s unclear how many people Middleton sponsored in his two decades with 12-step programs in Charlotte. He was one of the longest-tenured members of his weekly meeting group, which was made up of gay men who are also recovering addicts, friends said.

Middleton took leadership roles and engaged other members, chatting over coffee before the meetings or at dinner afterward. He asked people to call him “Mike,” an abbreviation of his middle name. He freely doled out his cell phone number, friends said.

He was semi-retired but still worked part time in credit and collections. He doted on his two cats and had also recently started taking theater appreciation classes at Central Piedmont Community College. Middleton and his friends regularly bought season tickets to plays at the college.

Details of the interactions between Middleton and Huffman were still hazy on Wednesday. Two people who knew Middleton – both of whom asked for anonymity – say the two men met at a 12-step meeting about four years ago. At some point, Huffman asked Middleton to sponsor him. For a while in 2008, they both lived a few doors down from each other on Ardmore Road in Sedgefield.

But their interactions over the next four years are unclear.

“We don’t know why and we don’t know the story behind what happened,” said a Narcotics Anonymous member. “We do know Mike has sponsored and helped a lot of people. … He’d extend his hand to a total stranger at times.”

But for some people involved in local 12-step programs, the link reminded them of the need for caution in dealing with troubled addicts. “It is almost a sacred thing. These are people who so freely give of themselves,” said a Narcotics Anonymous member who declined to give his name because the association frowns on speaking to the press. “How do they know that the people who we are trying to help are not going to do us harm?”

For recovering addicts, sponsorship is a complicated, but close relationship. A sponsor helps a person navigate some of the harder steps of recovery: making amends to people who’ve been harmed, conducting what Narcotics Anonymous calls “a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves,” and sharing a story of addiction with others.

But members say there are few solid rules about sponsorship in the global organization, which says it holds 61,800 weekly meetings in 129 countries. While members encourage frankness on the path to recovery, the organization is often tight-lipped with outsiders and the media about the details of sponsorship.

In a three-page pamphlet on sponsorship, the Narcotics Anonymous organization recommends frequent communication, and discourages romantic entanglements. But it’s unclear if the organization offers sponsors advice on how to protect themselves from the ill effects of another person’s addiction.

A person who answered the phone at the Metrolina Intergroup Association, a conglomeration of recovery groups in the Charlotte area, declined to comment about the relationship between Middleton and Huffman or sponsorship relationships generally.

“We have a tradition that we maintain our anonymity at the press level,” the woman said. Public relations officials with the national Narcotics Anonymous office in Van Nuys, Calif., did not return calls seeking comment.

One recovering addict in Charlotte said members are especially wary at open meetings, which involve people from all walks of life and often from unknown backgrounds.

“We’re not supposed to judge, but this is the real world,” she said. “If somebody’s making me feel uncomfortable, either I’m going to say something or I’m going or leave.”

She said there aren’t many written rules about sponsorships, but experienced sponsors encourage people to be cautious.

“It really has to be a gut instinct and you say to yourself that you’re not going to have them come to your house, you’ll meet them at Starbucks, some place public. It’s a huge deal, because people just come in off the street. We have people from jails, institutions.”

William White, a Florida researcher who’s written about the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous programs, said it’s unlikely that one incident will spark widespread change.

“Anytime something like this breaks publicly, there’s a period of soul searching in organizations like this in general,” White said. “Safety is not an issue that comes up across the board except in the aftermath.”

STAFF RESEARCHER MARIA DAVID AND STAFF WRITERS ANDREW DUNN AND ELISABETH ARRIERO CONTRIBUTED.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson

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36 thoughts on “Killing of 12-step (Narcotics Anonymous) program sponsor raised fears

  1. Incredible article. Really. They even said it was a gay meeting. Times are a changin! This sponsor was known to freely give his phone number out. Something had to lead up to this. They do not call it a robbery. I hope they follow up.

    *William White, a Florida researcher who’s written about the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous programs, said it’s unlikely that one incident will spark widespread change.*

    What? One incident is unlikely to spark widespread change? What about hundreds? Thousands of incidents? Will that be enough for widespread change? It sounds like William White is not looking for change. Just another example of what is wrong with the thought process of 12 steppers.

    • Bill White- really… I saw him in the BILL W doc last night and he is so full of himself. These stories are so heart breaking. AA and NA and the public need to be fully warned.

  2. Some people try to manipulate what is called The Power Inherent in Naming Things… If they attempt to diminish some incident by saying it is insignificant…unworthy of mention…unimpactful or spiritualnotreligious they hope to make what they say valid simply by virtue of their having said so. These incidences of AA and NA related violence and MURDER are certainly looking pretty substantive to me. Remember Dr. Peele stated that they happen everyday. Thats why Im so interested in stats. How increased is the likelihood that one will be asaulted, raped, robbed or murdered by virtue of her or his becoming involved with AA and NA members? That is the kind of info we need. I know I had NEVER been to a recoverying heroine addict and her relapsed crack addict boyfriend’s apt till my AA sponsor suggested it would be good for me to associate with these people and see how low I have not gone “YET”… wtf…right? And the guy was violent to my alcoholic/addict Fellowship Friend and he greatly resented my presence.

      • like Keeper ‘s story where a pedophile ring was targeting 7 states, AA meetings and rehab with male teens ….and it took 4 years for the Federal Marshall s to catch them. He killed her son. He molested and raped her son. WTF .

        Still no CBS, ABC, NBC , FOX TV Coverage….Lets all email michael moore please

    • Oh they won’t want those stats collected! There will be serious “anonymity” blocking if anyone tries to collect them I’m sure.

      It is ironic that public universities (at least where I live) publish crime statistics on campus crime; yet universities don’t court felons and conceal them on campus. If the court system is going to use AA/NA as a dumping ground for over-filled jails it looks like the states would at least demand the same kind of openness that they require of their universities?

  3. We have a tradition that we maintain our anonymity at the press level,” the woman said. Public relations officials with the national Narcotics Anonymous office in Van Nuys, Calif., did not return calls seeking comment.

    Are they F**king kidding. They need to be government regulated. If our judges , our government is going to send pp to them They have to be regulated!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. EXACTLY Massive & AntiDenial. My Mother’s Heart goes out to Keeper. Her loss is the most painful any parent suffers. Thats why we must keep doing what we can to increase Awareness. We are thinking alike in terms of Michael Moore btw. This should be right up his alley. I wonder why he has let it pass thus far. I know he has got to know something is off with these 12 based programs. Right? Seeing all this makes me feel so fortunate I got thru it w/o greater harm. My ol Heroine/Alcoholic friend made me nervous from the start w/ her gritty stories. She introduced herself after a meeting & asked me if Id like to go to a meeting w/ her. Its never my intention to be snotty or judgemental but she’d been into illegal scary shyte. I asked my sponsor about it. She said I was to “broaden my circle,” make new friends & see where “my disease” had not taken me YET. Overtime I ended up going to dangerous NA meetings & w/ this woman & her crack relapsed man. He was one nasty SOB. Why did I allow my sponsor to ok that? STUPID!

      • Thanks Massive. That entire FellowshipFriendship (unlike Real Friendship) turned into something truly stRanGe & unsettling. I’ll have to save the details for my Reality-Logue series. My FellowshipFriend seemed to have spotted me out & made up her mind that she & I would be friends. She had 2yrs after relapsing on herione after 18 years clean & being a drug counselor. She had sponsored many people & took SERIOUS issue w/ way my sponsor was handling me. She complained about my not having been taken as quickly as possible thru the Steps & not being forced to do my 90 in 90. She was also a wanna be hack playwrite needing basic skills in the genre who kept trying to get me to work w/ her. I declined but she kept after me till I rewrote her 300+ page play for essentially free just to get her to back up off me. Plus I had to endure her cracky hostile abusive & threatening man. She started showing up at my job & infultrating my life; very INTENSE. Finally my grand sponsor instructed me to cut ties w/ her! INSANITY…

  5. Looks like the article now is called ‘Twist in Sedgefield killing: Victim was Narcotics Anonymous sponsor’

    ‘Man arrested in shooting had been sponsored by the victim, friends say’

    Is one of the most viewed stories today, and a lot of Facebook recommended approvals. Anyone who go wants to go their website and give it a thumbs up would help show the newspaper that people think it is an important story. Click on below-

    Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/01/31/3823185/killing-of-charlotte-narcotics.html#storylink=cpy

  6. I was involved with Mike Middleton some years ago. He was great at charming people and portraying himself as a kind, caring, can “clean” person. In my experience, he was a sexual and financial predator. I ended up in therapy not long before our relationship ended. My therapist said to me “He’s a sociopath. Get away from him now”. For the record, we did not meet through NA or any other 12 step program. I was in a vulnerable place when we met and he took advantage of that. I could write a book about the manipulation and cruelty. We had not had contact in a number of years, but the scars are pretty deep. All the news forced me to have to revisit those horrific memories. During the period our relationship finally ended, he was involved in a sexual relationship with someone he was sponsoring. While I am reluctant to write this post, I feel someone who experienced the dark side of this person needs to speak up.

    • I am sorry to hear about your experience with him. I wonder if this behavior caught up with him. The article said they did not at this time know a motive for the murder..

    • OMFG- I felt it. I just felt it. Im sorry ….I live in LA. I have heard the stories. I know of a gay meeting at the LOG CABIN where I heard there is a sexual predator there of this type. OMG OMG…..

      My brother in law hung himself the summer of 2011 after years in and out of AA and he was first 13 stepped by a guy like this in AA in NY. They need to be sued for sexual harassment in AA and NA. I know you met him not there but if any one hits on you in 12 step when you are there for help its a f**king lawsuit. I know a great lawyer in California now if anyone needs to know.

      • MASSIVE… your brother in law driven to suicide by AA really breaks my heart. Again if the program was merely ineffectual it would be sin enough…but the way that it greatly intensifies…increases and worsens people’s lives is a sin, a crime and a crying-dying SHAME. I am so sorry for your loss. AWhileBack I am sorry for the pain and trauma you have suffered. No one had any right to mistreat you whether they met you in AA, NA or somewhere else. You deserve help and support for distress or upset that news of his death is causing. No further harm to you need ever be endured. Take good care…

        • Thanks, we were not close until the last year of his life when he was having a super hard time and O was trying to get him to go to another program like SMART. He had no idea anything else existed! He was a very sweet guy and had 8 years and drank and had 8 more years , but each time he went back they were meaner and meaner and non supportive of his mental problems. The guy who was the a**hole was the head of the Parks Department in NY and very involved in Stepping Stones and considered himself and very powerful and influence man in AA in NY and White PLains area…This also took place in GAY AA up there, where he bullied and threw his power around. They really need to be exposed big time.
          I flew back for the funeral. None of his faux AA friends called. After 25 years in & around AA. what a bunch of losers they are. FIlled with lots of fake love bombing to boot. Awhile back, thank you so much for your input. It validates the work I have ben doing since 2009.

    • Is there anything else you could add to this about Mike Middleton? Do you know anymore about his connection with Narcotics Anonymous? They said he was a member for a very long time and sponsored others.

      • I was not in NA with him, but I did go to meetings with him once in a while if something was happening or we were out of town. He was always charming and well liked at meetings. (It was in private the dark side came out.) I stayed out of his way pretty much when he was dealing with his sponsor or sponsees. He was pretty condescending toward anyone who was not in a 12 step program of some sort. I do know he prided himself on being quite tough on his sponsees.

        • Others are blogging on here about their sponsor experiences. Many are of sponsors who bullied their sponsees.

          Hope you are doing okay.

          Do you know anyone else who was friends with him in or out of NA? There seems to be no information about motive or what led up to his murder.

        • “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
          –Lord Acton

          Sadly, people are given absolute power over other people in 12 Step programs. It is sick. It seems many of them really PRIDE themselves in being harsh or cruel to sponsees. WTF is that? My sponsor told me “you sponsor like you were sponsored.”

          Seems kind of like that idiom regarding PARENTING doesn’t it.

          I once informed my grand sponsor that my sponsor was VERY MEAN (and she is MEANIER than my sponsor). She smiled with GREAT PRIDE in her Sadistic Protégé…

          My sponsor assured me often that when I had sponsees one day…I was going to be tougher on them than she was on me.

          I told her i would NEVER treat another woman the way they had treated me. I think it is wrong, abusive and disempowering…

          She would just laugh like she knew something I did not.

          I read an article I once and shared it on here. The writer said that he has found after studying these groups that there is something in these programs that makes people very abusive and cruel to other human beings.

          I can see that too.

          Well, he did not manage to destroy your inner Light. You are still here on the warm site of the soil…you still have the POWER to live the life you choose.

          It is over for him…and hopefully for whoever killed him when they face justice. Can’t go around killing sponsors and sponsees however f-ed up they may be. Best for people to break free of this sick, sick, crazy-making system.

  7. I can’t comment specifically on this man but I will say if he treated people, sponsees and newcomers in the highly manipulative, diminishing and emotionally abusive way that we continually try to bring to light as a central issue here…well, he would have put himself in jeopardy if he mistreated people. We post a lot about sponsees and newcomers being careful but sponsors and oldtimers really need to be careful too, don’t they. AA & NA makes them feel so safe and secure in controlling newcomers & sponsees but are they WARNED about the inherent danger of being abusive to an increasingly criminal/violent element being flushed by the courts into the gut of 12 Step programs? Shouldnt they be warned? ***ATTENTION AA & NA Sponsors: Do Not Abuse Members In Any Way If Not Out of Human Decency… Out of Keeping Your Asses From Getting Cold-Cocked or Facking Killed!*** That is all.

  8. For AntiDenial, I do have contact with someone who recently knew him, although as far as I know, he does not know that we were ever involved. (I heard that he has been talking about the situation and thought Mike was a terrific guy.)
    When Mike and I broke up the last time, I told him not to contact me again–I had taken all I could, and I knew he would come back again. He tried a few times, but I stuck to my decision. I don’t have much if any contact with the people we both knew–it was several years ago. I don’t know if he was still best friends with one particular guy in NA, but he would probably know a great deal if they were. I used to hear Mike on the phone telling him about some of the things he did to me and they would laugh about it.

    • awhile back OMG…”I used to hear Mike on the phone telling him about some of the things he did to me and they would laugh about it.”

      This is so sick. Im glad you got away from him Maybe you can help the case by telling the detectives what you know about the deceased.

      There was a case in Long Beach a few years back where a man read his 5th step to his sponsor who then revealed his was Gay, which he was not ready to come out, and heard that they were laughing at him. He went into the meeting and shot him.

    • Interesting. Do you know the NA guy or anyone in that community? They told the reporters no one seem to no anything for the last 4 years. Other than this killer used to live don the street from him. This seems like it was personal. If it was a robbery they might have been able to tell if something was missing. You can tell the reporter was trying to see if there was a connection with him being his sponsor or not. This is a pretty huge story to come out in the paper. There are still a lot of unanswered questions.

      I am sure you are going through your feelings about it, and I certainly respect that. I do feel bad for what ever he put you through. Sounds pretty bad if you still are wounded about it. Thank you for sharing-but not in the AA way:).

  9. Massive,
    That’s an awful thing to happen. I have thought about contacting the police, but it’s been a long time and we have not had contact.

  10. awhileback. I understand… but the latest news about him, the victim, mike, is that he was such a sweet, good guy, giving so much to his community.

    Now we know this was not true right? Ill find the link for breaking news. I can understand your concern, but it will help the detectives see he was not the sweetheart MR Do gooder in AA/NA.

  11. I was a member of AA for 6.5 years in “good standing.” I met Mike Middleton after moving to Charlotte 2 years into my sobriety. He attached himself to me very quickly, even though he knew I had moved there to he with my partner. Oh BTW, I’m a gay male. The three of us went to dinner several times, and I realized that this person that was so “spiritual” and full of advice in meetings was much less interested in helping others than he was in “picking up tricks!”

    I hate that any person who did help many over the years, regardless of his intentions, was murdered in cold blood and is being made the villain, but I would be interested in hearing more from others that actually knew him.

    There, but for the grace of God, go I!

      • I do know Chris, but not very well. I would see him at meetings, and sometimes the group would go out to dinner after and he would join. He was very pleasant, but also very quiet. I don’t even know what he did for a living.

  12. For AWhileBack, I would be interested in hearing more of your experience, and I do think you should go to think you should share your experience with the police. There is really no excuse for killing someone, but maybe Chris really was a victim as well? I had met him several times, and he was always very kind and gentle. I feel for him and his family as well!

  13. ex aa in Char- Hi and welcome. Thanks for telling us what you know. Its not the first time this has happened , but still I am very curious about if he was a 13 stepper…

    SO have you left AA now?

  14. Hi, Massive, and thank you. I have heard stories as well, but I try not to believe anything unless I hear it from the actual person. Let’s just say, I would not be surprised.

    I have left AA, and my life is MUCH calmer now. I thank the Program for being there for me when I needed it, but no one has been there for me with other life issues since I left, I can promise you that much!

    • ex aa- charlotte- I hear you. I had some serious health issues this past year and non of those ex faux friends called. Just 3 . Its a phony bulls**hit modality that’s on its way out.

      Thanks to the internet. SMART RECOVERY, HARMS REDUCTION FOR ALCOHOL and MODERATION M , DRINK LINK MODERATION, AMY LEE COYS WAY, HANK HAYES WAY, and SOS, LIFERING ARE ALL GROWING.

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