Right Where He Needs to Be

A woman was walking to the store one night when she was grabbed by the hair, dragged into the bushes, beaten, raped, and robbed by Rene Hernandez. He got 30 years to life for this crime, despite support from his character witnesses, including the anonymous whackaloon who runs the Alcoholics Anonymous program out of the jail.

Rapist Receives 30 Years to Life

 A Watsonville man convicted in July of raping and beating a 56-year-old woman in 2009 was sentenced Thursday to 30 years to life in prison.

Rene Hernandez, 28, sat still next to defense attorney Marta Cadloni, showing emotion only when he turned to smile at his 4-year-old daughter, who was sitting next to her mother in the courtroom.

Hernandez received a four-year sentence for slamming the victim’s head into the wall during the attack, 15 years to life for the rape and an additional 15 years to life for digital penetration.

Hernandez was also ordered to register as a sex offender and to pay more than $20,000 in fines and restitution.

According to prosecutors, the 56-year-old victim was walking on East Lake Avenue to the Quik Stop convenience store at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 11, 2009, when two men approached her, one of them walking a large pit bull dog.

As she passed them, Hernandez grabbed the woman by the hair and pulled her into nearby bushes. The other man continued walking and has never been identified.

Hernandez sexually assaulted the woman, then stole her purse. At one point Hernandez also slammed the woman’s head against a wall.

After the attack, the woman was taken to Watsonville Community hospital.

A DNA sample taken from the victim was a very close match to one taken from Hernandez when he was arrested months later on an unrelated assault charge.

Neither the victim nor any of her supporters attended the half-hour hearing, but about a dozen people came to show their support for Hernandez.

Hernandez’s sister Imelda Hernandez asked Connolly to consider her brother’s lack of a criminal record, and his two daughters, aged 2 and 4.

“You can never replace their father, who is going to be out of their lives for a very long time,” she said.

A woman who asked not to be identified who ran an Alcoholics Anonymous program through the Santa Cruz County Jail said Hernandez was successfully completing the 12 steps of the program and was making positive changes in his life.

“He had a lot of courage to walk through the door the first time,” she said. “He has changed a lot.”

Before Connolly imposed the sentence, Hernandez addressed the court, apologizing to the court, his family and the community.

He also asked Connolly for the chance to be with his sick mother, his father, whom he called his “hero,” and his two young daughters.

“I need a chance to make them proud,” he said.

“I’m 28 years old, and I am asking you to be merciful and not have me spend the other half of my life in prison,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and by far this is the worst I’ve made.”

But citing the “high degree of viciousness” Hernandez used during the commission of the rape, Connolly imposed the harshest sentence possible.

There’s a woman, charged with guiding violent offenders through the 12 steps to spiritual enlightenment, working anonymously within the court system, who will go before the judge and assert that this violent sexual predator should be a constant presence in the life of a 4 year old girl, and no one questions her qualifications or demands to know who she is.  Yet, her opinion is published.

Thankfully, the prosecutor in this case seems to be right on the ball and perhaps privy to AA flim flam. He responds:

Isaac added that the case is a tragedy for everyone involved, but pointed out that Hernandez didn’t say anything about the victim.

“He referred to it as a mistake, and not a vicious attack,” Isaac said. “So I guess he’s right where he needs to be.

After reading this story, it occurs to me that our activist contingent devote some time to supporting people like Isaacs.

Here’s the whole story.



  • Actually the name of the anonymous Alcoholics Anonymous person is publicly available to anyone that wants to know it at the court house records where this case was tried. It can also most likely be found on the Intergroup website with only an initial for the last name and perhaps even a phone number or email address. The reporter Todd Guild is the one that is following the corporate policy of AA and not publishing the name.

    This raises a big question about responsibility. Why would the reporter feel it appropriate to mask the name of the AA member from controversy, yet name other people and mention that the now convicted sex offender has two daughters. I believe that Todd Gould was in err in determining who needs to be protected by anonymity here. The fact that Hernandez has children and it is publicized will have a long term effect on their lives during their entire existence for a crime they did not commit and had no influence over? True he didn’t give the first names of the children and the name Hernandez is extremely common, but where is the responsibility here?

  • Rick

    I imagine a lot of prosecutors get tired of this charade.

  • SoberPJ

    The judges comment really looks like a snark on AA. Good for him. I agree we should be supporting judges that see this for what it really is. If it is true that AA attendence increases re-arrests, they have to see that. A judge who has been on the bench a long time sees the 5% success rate and the 95% failure rate with people coming through promising to attend AA and straighten up and fly right, only to be back in court again and again, even while in AA. I know a lot of people who have broken the law and gone to jail while devoted members of AA. AA attendance is not a guarantee of behavior change, it is a gamble towards behavior change. And the statistics say it is a bad bet, but they just keep betting. I think there is a 12 Step program for that.

  • MikeAugustine

    It took a lot of courage to walk through the door the first time, did it? And how much courage did it take to rape and beat a defenseless woman exactly? Oh, but wait, we’re dealing with a program that is spiritual not religious. And Wilsonian not Orwellian.

    So let’s just keep making lemonade out of those lemons. Unbelievable.

  • SoberPJ

    Paraphrase – ” ok,ok, my bad, I beat and raped somebody, but hey, I’ve done the 12 Steps from that self-help program so you should let me off. ”

    In essence, they are saying that, somehow, doing one cancels the other out. Or, partially cancels it out. Is this true? Does it? I think not.

  • raysny

    Unless the judge has a personal interest, all he knows is what he sees and hears. Repeat offenders means he probably gives credence to the disease theory and stories of how it’s impossible to quit without major help.

  • From what I read, this case played out exactly as it should have. The 12-step advocate’s attempt to portray the rapist as one of AA’s bravest sons failed miserably. His defense attorney lamely pleaded as best she could, while ensuring that he received adequate legal representation. His supporters’ pleas of “Rene never done nuthin’ wrong to nobody ever before” fell upon deaf ears. The prosecutor pursued all charges to their maximum sentences. The judge sentenced accordingly, and appropriately. It all looks good from here.

  • Ironic

    What about AA having no opinion on outside issues??
    That is exactly what that “whackaloon” (like that one) did when she testified as a character witness for this disgusting piece of garbage AS an AA member. It says right in the article that she runs the program in the jail and “he has been working on the 12 steps.”

    They dont even follow their own rules (anymore?) !!!
    Most of them aren’t even “anonymous” anymore..
    Until, of course, they commit a crime.

  • This story made me cringe. I could feel it through the computer. Im so glad he is going to jail for a long time. My son said” MOM you need to start to contact Judges. Start with the ones you know, he said. Talk to these Judges and give them your letter.
    Anonymity was created back then because it was a terrible stigma to be called an alcoholic.
    That’s it. ANd if people got drunk it would give AA in it’s beginnings a bad name.

    That is not true anymore. It’s not a stigma to be an alcoholic. These stupid 12 traditions are laughable.

  • Rick

    Springing a rapist from jail ‘ought never’ be confused with public controversy. She just wants the hand of AA to be there anytime a rapist reaches out for help. Thank god the paper protected her anonymity though…

  • Yes the anonymity of AA members is very important. If you don’t believe me you can ask anyone in Lewiston Maine, where the Maine State police in Androscoggin County broke the anonymity of Bob Ryder and his sponsor Floyd Nadeau and his sponsor someone believed to be named Fanjoy at the Twelve Hour Club an Alano club. They were afraid to break the anonymity of an AA member and waited 2 and a half weeks to report the dead body of Danita Brown buried in the basement where Bob Ryder was living, even though they actually viewed the body last month.

    So you are right I guess when you say that it is an outside issue and the fact that AA promotes Anonymity at the press level. Everyone that kills someone and buries them in their basement should not tell anyone about it if they are an AA member to protect the 12 Step program devised by an adulterous Bill Wilson.

  • It baffles me how the same field that is suppose to promote individual growth, empowerment and diversity (every two years as a counselor you have to have 3ceu hours in diversity) encourages dissempowerment and conformity as the only acceptable therapeutic approach to substance abuse. As a clinician, if someone comes in with a substance abuse issue and AA is not recommended as part of the treatment plan, the referral source (courts, probation, EAP, HR employer) will question my competency.

  • SoberPJ

    twobitts … Is safety of the patient ever a consideration?

  • I’m presuming you are referring to safety in AA – Never discussed as an issue, in most conversations AA is presumed safe.

  • SoberPJ

    Yes, ..thank you. Please read the Keep Coming Back archives. AA, in general, is less safe than most people think.

  • Will be browsing the site – great info here.

  • Brianjcas

    JR – You are a little off on your recount of the Ryder/Brown story. It was reported 2 and a half weeks later by Ryder’s sponsor because he was questioning whether or not as his sponsor if there was a confidentiality agreement that he should honor. He used horrible judgement, but it had nothing to do with anonymity. Also, it was not the maine state police (the mention of AA members names by police was in the police affidavit) that broke anonyminity, it was the local press.

  • Mona Lisa

    Twobitts: I spent nearly two years going to a part time graduate program to get my MSW, but ultimately changed my mind and decided to continue with my current profession (lawyer). When I was in the MSW program, I was absolutely stunned that most of the professors, as well as students who were currently working as D&A counselors, had no clue about safety issues in AA, no clue about the anti-medication faction, and worst of all no interest in the potential ethical issues involved in recommending membership in a group whose fundamental philosophy is based on powerlessness. In addition to this, both professors and students were unaware of the many alternative support groups that exist.

    Since you are a clinician will ask you the same question I posed repeatedly when I was in school (and to which I never got a satisfactory answer): WHY?

  • causeandeffect

    Hi twobits, welcome.

    massive, there still is a stigma of being an alcoholic and I lost my very best friend because of it. We are “Liars, cheats and thieves” and always ready to relapse, Try getting a job by divulging this info. You might get one, but it won’t be a good one. Anonymity is quite necessary to not be discriminated against. The problem occurs when you call it “the spiritual foundation” and all the other AA dogma attached to it where people use it to protect perps of all kind.

  • Brianjcas,

    Actually you are right. The Maine State Police only broke the Anonymity of Bob Ryder and Floyd Nadeau to the reporter Christopher Williams or one of his associates. Christopher Williams of the Sun Journal broke their Anonymity to help protect the citizens of Androscoggin County in the event if any of these two had come in contact with them or their associates. Or if anyone else was missing that was being hidden in someones basement that they didn’t know about. I will try and keep the chain of custody of anonymity breaking straight next time.


  • Brianjcas

    You specifically said “ask anyone in Lewiston Maine” so I just thought you should get it right. Wasn’t critisizing you. You seem to be a stickler for stating your sources and getting your facts straight so I pointed out a discrpency is all.

  • SoberPJ

    twobitts .. would love to get your take on why there seems to be a high correlation between arson/pyromania and AA members.

  • IMO – Because if it is not a disease – we are just screwed. Also, I believe because (as you know) my profession is full of egotistical and self important people who are going to save the world. If addiction is not a disease than we just suck. When intelligent people continue to destroy themselves despite all reason there is only one safe way to explain that – fear – with a disease. People can live with that. If someone OD’s and you have to tell the family why…… AA’s cliche’s and “a disease” sounds better than an alternative.

  • twobitts – The standard Substance Abuse Self Report Questionnaire does not have a section for the councilor or therapist to put a check mark on to refer to AA or NA. This is usually done on the treatment plan. The treatment plan form varies from State to State depending upon the procedures for submitting to Insurance, Medicare or Medicaid so that it hopefully will be paid by the carrier. These forms are often varied from office to office and fine tuned to prevent what is normally called an “Insurance Denial” (Sorry for using the “D” word) where the bill won’t be paid. Do many of these form have places to write in the referral or just check boxes? I realize that this varies from office to office and geographical areas, but I was wondering if you have ever seen one with a check box for Smart, Rational Recovery, etc…

  • Sally

    Hi twobitts, welcome!

    Have you talked with, or plan to talk with, your associates and peers about this?

    Is your above opinion about what most professionals think or is it what you think too?

    If it is not, what would you say to a client that told you he/she had the disease of addiction?

  • Mona Lisa

    @twobitts: Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that it IS a disease. A genetically based brain-hijack that’s nobody’s fault.

    Why then does it follow that people have to be sent to a faith healing group to heal from this disease? Why are the people who treat this disease uninterested in improving its treatment? Why are people who don’t do well with the standard treatment given more of the very treatment that is failing them? Why are people who question the status quo viewed as crazy or incompetent?

    What we have today is not an addiction treatment system. It is theater of the absurd.

  • I do have to correct my statement about AA and NA not being a check box on the Substance abuse Questionnaire. I was thinking more along the lines of the MAST or DAST tests. If you are required to take one of these tests because of a DUI they do have these boxes. Remember that you signed a Federal Confidentiality form CFR42 and it can not be used to prosecute you, but it will be sent to the probation department and the DMV because you signed a release saying they could, or you would go to jail for a probation violation.

    This is a detailed listing of the Driver Risk Inventory (DRI) which is considered the Gold standard, with examples of what gets sent to the people you allow them to when you sign CFR42 to keep out of jail. It is quite detailed showing exactly what they are looking for and what information is being sent: The referral to AA or NA is about 2/3 down.


  • Also even though this guy is going to jail for along time, felons with the same crime ,once they get out of jail will be sent to AA/NA if they feel that drugs or alcohol was a factor in their crime.

  • Sally – very interesting question about “what would you say to a client….” – I have never had a client come in telling me they were there for their “disease”. In fact, most tell me they have not come in so far because they did not want to be told they have a disease. It is my profession, that is perpetuating the whole disease thing.

  • Border Collie Mix

    @towbitts, whether or not alcoholism is a disease depression, bi-polar disorder, OCD, and many other mental disorders are, and MANY people who end up in 12 step programs developed problems with alcohol or other drugs through by self-medication. Professionals need to work harder at finding the root cause of their patients/clients’ problems because their mental state will likely never be completely improved by not drinking/druging alone, as I was led to believe in AA.

  • causeandeffect

    “they did not want to be told they have a disease”, keeping them from seeking help before they hit rock bottom, no doubt. And most counselors would tell them they are in denial. twobits, I’m glad you’re here. Please stick around and watch the process as we deprogram ourselves and begin to live much better lives. It’s all documented here.

  • Andy M

    Anybody else think there”s something a bit BIGGER at stake here? Something that this whole aa issue is only a useful part of? Just asking.

  • Well AA does help some people. The ones it helps have to be supported somehow. I’m only looking at the ones that it doesn’t work for or that use it for profit by taking advantage of vulnerable people, but I am trying to at least provide some solution for them also, whether it being better personal safety or a more religious regimen. 12 Step programs make a lot of money for some people even if they do not admit it. That money needs to be redistributed where it can do the most good.

    I’m not sure about your question.

  • SoberPJ

    Maybe Andy .. what if the process goes like this –

    What do you do with diseased, incurable people? Medicine doesn’t want them, they make medicine look bad. The churches don’t want them, they make their omnipotent gawds look bad. So, let them create their own ecosystem with no specific brand of medicine and no specific gawd that can be blamed. When people act up, toss them into the XA limbo machine and hope for the best. It’s good for medicine, politics, and established religion, plus a whole bunch of people get to make money off something that can’t be cured. Total win/win/win/win .. oh, except for those that can’t seem to get it, but, well, too bad, they had an incurable, chronic, progressive, unavoidable, fatal disease. That view must be upheld at all costs. Except, new treatments like The Sinclair method throw huge boulders into that well oiled machine.

  • humanspirit

    @twobitts says:

    “I have never had a client come in telling me they were there for their “disease”. In fact, most tell me they have not come in so far because they did not want to be told they have a disease. It is my profession, that is perpetuating the whole disease thing.”

    My personal take on this is that addiction itself is such a hugely destructive condition, and such a difficult one to overcome, that any semantic discussion about its being a “disease” or not isn’t that helpful to the person seeking help with tackling it. The problem is that whatever you call substance addiction, the 12-step program does not begin to give any help with providing a solution, and its evangelists, and those making money from it, should be honest about this fact.

    Yes, JRH, it does work for some people and that’s great for them. But like you, these are not the people I am concerned about. It is the vast majority of people it fails, the fact that this is so often all that is on offer, and the way that such people are duped, exploited, and not given any proper treatment or rational approaches that is the real scandal.

  • SoberPJ

    So, when someone says “it works” for them, does that mean a supernatural being actually DID reach into their brain and rearrange their neurons and synapses to get them to think and behave differently? That’s what faith-healing of a mental condition would have to be and it is what the steps are about. If that didn’t happen, then the 12 Steps didn’t really “work” at all for anybody and it was something else entirely that helped them LEARN how to deal with life without drinking/drugging.

  • I think it is also important to at least provide some sort of option for people in the program that have hit bottom and rely on the program for survival. One example is Sunny Acres in San Luis Obispo, California. By latest reports it was closed down last week. It had 73 people who relied on it for survival. It needed to be shut down and any more of these places should be prevented from opening. The had 73 people on a property with 8 contaminated wells, living in oil soaked garden shed (oil is a known carcinogen) paying $300 a month for a possible of $21,000 a month in gross receipts and this is not counting the business they had running out of the property. With that kind of money coming in, they should have been able to provide something better.

    The possible 73 residents now need someplace to live. While I am glad the place was was closed down I do believe that the innocent parties living there should be supported because it was not their fault they were taken advantage of. I do not know the answer but the loosing of ones home, however dangerous the place was is still dramatic and they are an innocent party.

    Anyone have any ideas?

  • humanspirit –
    “My personal take on this is that addiction itself is such a hugely destructive condition, and such a difficult one to overcome, that any semantic discussion about its being a “disease” or not isn’t that helpful to the person seeking help with tackling it.” –

    – excellent point!

  • Lucy

    The standing joke in AA is that people “catch” alcoholism when they start going to meetings. Before that, they just drink too much.

    It’s no different than saying a thief is a thief until he gets to therapy and becomes a “kleptomaniac.” Either way, he still takes your stuff.

    The difference is that he now has an excuse as to why his behavior isn’t his fault.

  • MW

    Thanks for posting this. I am creating a collection of newspaper and magazine articles that show:

    1. AA is complicit in creating an environment where sex offenders can thrive in their meetings

    2. AA uses their ties to the judiciary to influence judges to sentence sex offenders to AA
    3. Sex offenders are sentenced to AA regardless of their status as substance abusers
    4. Sex crimes and other crimes are occurring at AA meetings or due to relationships formed at AA meetings.

    I already have a good start by looking through the archives of this blog. I encourage people to continue posting articles such as the above article. I cannot say what I am doing with these articles, but just know these articles will result in good things!

  • MW

    I know I’m late to the party here, but I am sick to death of reporters protecting AA members’ anonymity. I’m sorry, but once they commit a crime they are criminals, not AA members. The fucking third tradition says anyone is a member if they say they are. Under that “reasoning,” any rapist or murderer could keep his name out of the paper by saying he’s a member of AA. Hasn’t anyone pointed out this logical fallacy to the press? Gawd Bill W. was such a good manipulator!

  • SoberPJ

    This is a long running party so no one is ever late, and yes, professional theives and con men are highly practiced manipulators.

  • twobitts-

    Sally wrote a great letter you can give to professionals or I can send you one. I am sending them everywhere I can educate folks on the dangers of AA/NA.

    C & E Yea, I guess your right. Being in Hollywood everyone seems like they know someone, they are in AA or its just so rehab this, treatment that. I see your point.

  • Massive – I would enjoy reading that letter