Fellowship-Wide Services, Inc.
ANONYMITY, THE LAW AND S.L.A.A.
During the years of The Augustine Fellowship, S.L.A.A., Fellowship-Wide Services, Inc.’s existence, several inquiries have come to our attention regarding disclosure of illegal or dangerous acts by members or to members. As we are all governed by our own conscience, we do encourage members to study and understand the Traditions of our program to assist in group conscience/ individual decisions on matters associated with crimes/illegal activity. Various scenarios/hypothetical have been posed:
• A member tells us that s/he is HIV positive and having unprotected sex with people.
• A member reports that s/he has committed a sex crime against an adult.
• A member reports that s/he has committed a sex crime against a minor.
• A member reports that s/he is committing incest.
• A member reports that their spouse/partner/child is committing crimes or engaged in illegal activity.
• A member reports that s/he has committed a crime or is engaged in illegal activity.
• A member commits a crime or illegal act at a meeting or against another member of the program.
• A member tells their story, which involves an illegal act, to a sponsor/sponsee or at a meeting.
• A member reports that s/he is a recent or ongoing victim of a sex crime, incest/molestation, or illegal activity.
• A member is arrested due to a crime and the police are asking members outside of the meeting for details about the person/crime.
In all cases, the following is suggested:
• People must remember when they are sharing at a meeting, with their sponsor/sponsee, or fellow members, that anonymity does not exempt them from repercussions for their actions.
• Although, people at the meetings are attending for their own recovery, we are powerless over an individual’s moral conscience and the choice of that person to report such acts to the legal authorities.
• Meeting attendees/listeners may be found to be liable in a civil action for failure to act on information.
• Meetings should check with their state/country as to what the responsibility of each individual may be in reporting crimes or illegal activity—listeners may be liable in a civil action for failure to act on information.
• If a crime or illegal activity is happening currently, it is the policy of the F.W.S. office to advise the victim
• There is a distinction between the individual members and the groups and S.L.A.A. as a business organization. They are all separate entities and are responsible only to themselves.
• Members should remember that there might be individuals attending the meeting who are mandated to report crimes/illegal activity including: social workers, teachers, and law enforcement personnel.
Some groups have chosen to include a statement within their format to specifically address this issue. An example follows:
“The Foundation of Anonymity
“Anonymity is the foundation of our program. It is essential if we are to continue the 12 Step work of S.L.A.A. However even this basic principle may give way to the pressure of individual consciences or legal requirements. Therefore we, the members of this S.L.A.A. meeting, make clear to newcomers and old timers alike that speaking of any potentially illegal activity, especially relating to minors, endangers the speaker and lays a burden of knowledge on others that they may not be willing to assume. When it is necessary to speak of such activities, whether they are happening now or only contemplated, sharing with our sponsors is valuable and important, but we must acknowledge that sponsorship is not a legally protected relationship.”
This print out represents the S.L.A.A.-FWS, the Board of Trustees and F.W.S.’s recommendations considering the 12-Traditions and the consultation of the FWS legal advisors. This is a conference approved document, approved by the S.L.A.A.-FWS Board of Trustees on July 2003 and distributed at the S.L.A.A.-FWS Annual Business Meeting in 2003