AA Sponsor Convicted of 24 Counts Of Sex Abuse of Children he was Sponsoring in Alcoholics Anonymous California


In 2009, Poizner was a volunteer counselor at Pacific Health Systems, a substance abuse rehabilitation center. There, he introduced himself to and befriended adolescent boys who were attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other group meetings, telling one of the boys he was there to help keep himself sober and assist other teenage boys. He then brought the boys to his apartment where he committed acts summarized below and for which he was convicted of the above-referenced offenses. At trial, each victim testified about Poizner’s conduct and touching, and the circumstances that otherwise led to the charges against him. Like Poizner’s opening brief, our factual summary focuses mainly on the evidence supporting the felony sexual assault offenses against Austin G., Brandon P., Evan W., and Andrew D.

Robert Poizner convicted on 24 counts of sex abuse towards children with at least two 13 year old boys he was taking to Alcoholics Anonymous as an AA Sponsor, while they were under the care of Pacific Health Systems in National City, California.

Lawsuit claims National City treatment facility did not protect young patients

Robert Poizner convicted of molesting patients

Posted: 10/17/2013 Vanessa Van Hyfte  | Email Me

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. – A lawsuit has been filed against a treatment facility in National City after one of its volunteer counselors was convicted of sexually abusing young patients.

Robert Poizner was convicted of 24 counts of sex abuse against children, and two of his victims were 13-year-old patients at Pacific Health Systems, a facility that treats a variety of mental health issues and additions.

According to court documents obtained by 10News, Poizner was a volunteer at PHS and was supposed to be taking teenage boys to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Instead, he took them back to his apartment and molested them, the documents stated.

“The program requires for them to get an AA sponsor … We do a lot of these cases; I’ve seen these predators, it’s unbelievable. They know where to go and which kids they can groom. These are vulnerable kids and they are at their most vulnerable state, and PHS had an obligation to keep these kids safe and they failed in this regard,” said attorney Stephen Estey, who is now representing one of Poizner’s teenage victims.

The suit alleges PHS did not do enough to protect its young patients.

Estey said by law, the facility is required to conduct criminal background screenings on anyone working or volunteering with children. Poizner had several felony convictions ranging from burglaries to three “peeping Tom” charges, where a judge had ordered him to a year in a sex offender program.

“If the facility uses volunteers, they are obligated to screen them and supervise them too, and they did neither,” said Estey.

According to court documents, Poizner offered the boys cigarettes and pornography. He lured the boys to his home, where he gained access to two of their friends, who he also sexually assaulted, the documents said.

Estey said when the boys’ parents raised concerns to PHS about Poizner spending so much time with young boys, but their concerns were dismissed.

“They were told to back off. One parent was told [to] quit being a helicopter parent and let us do their job … if you want your kid to get sober, this is part of the process,” said Estey.

The suit also claims fellow counselors had suspicions as well, but nothing was ever reported.

“The counselors that ran this thing, they witnessed Poizner hugging and kissing on the boys in the parking lot and didn’t say anything to parents,” said Estey.

Poizner was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison.

The civil lawsuit against PHS, which is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, will get underway next week.


5 thoughts on “AA Sponsor Convicted of 24 Counts Of Sex Abuse of Children he was Sponsoring in Alcoholics Anonymous California

  1. How is this possible in this day and age? There is no excuse for this! This is not the dark ages. How are these organizations, which are made up of such a huge population of vulnerable people, many of which are court mandated members on early release from incarceration, allowed to operate without any safety procedures or supervision?

    It is so important that people are truly safe in the care of qualified counselors and therapists at such a crucial threshold in life. Vulnerable people of all ages, who are transitioning out of self-medicating symptoms of unresolved emotional and psychological trauma, need and deserve counseling from qualified people with background checks.

    AA and NA, as well as other 12 step organizations, are aware of a real problem with predators and abuse within their organizations. These organizations use mostly unqualified volunteers as sponsors completely without background checks. A closer look reveals that many of these unqualified sponsors have extensive unresolved emotional and psychological disorders of their own! Court mandates and other vulnerable members are expected to follow the guidance of the sponsors. Predatory behavior towards the vulnerable continues to go unchecked, completely under the radar.

    Please take a look at this link to an internal AA document that reveals how this organization votes no to implementing even basic safety guidelines. Why? Nowadays, any self-respecting organization implements safety guidelines and supervision to protect the vulnerable. Especially an organization which has such a high concentration of high-risk individuals!


  2. Found this on the Orange Papers

    APPEAL from a judgment of the

    APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Kerry Wells, Judge. Affirmed.

    A jury convicted Robert Andrew Poizner of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (a), counts 1-6, involving victim Austin G. and counts 22-23, involving victim Evan W.); committing lewd acts upon a 14 to 15-year-old child (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (c)(1), counts 12 & 14, involving Brandon P.); exhibiting harmful matter to a minor (Pen. Code, § 288.2, subd. (a), counts 7, 8 & 15); distributing or exhibiting harmful matter to a child (Pen. Code, § 313.1, subd. (a), counts 16, 19 & 27); contributing to the delinquency of a minor (Pen. Code, § 272, subd. (a)(1), counts 17, 20, & 21); dissuading a witness (Pen. Code, § 136.1, subd. (b)(1), counts 18 & 25); and disobeying a court order (Pen. Code, § 166, subd. (a)(4), counts 26 & 28). The jury acquitted Poizner of two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor as to Brandon P. (counts 9 & 10) and found him guilty of the lesser included offense of sexual battery (Pen. Code, § 242; counts 11 & 13). As to counts 1-6, 22 and 23, the jury found true allegations that Poizner committed his crimes on multiple victims. As to counts 2, 5 and 22, it found true allegations that Poizner engaged in substantial sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14, and as to counts 2 and 5, that he used obscene matter. (Pen. Code, § 1203.066, subds. (a)(8) & (9).) It found true allegations that Poizner committed the dissuasion offenses of counts 18 and 25 while on bail. (Pen. Code, § 12022.1, subd. (b).) The trial court sentenced Poizner to an indeterminate term of 75 years to life plus a consecutive determinate term of seven years.
    On appeal, Poizner contends the trial evidence did not establish the corpus delicti of certain uncharged criminal acts reflected in journal writings that were introduced into evidence on the issue of his propensity and the court prejudicially erred by failing to give sua sponte a proper corpus delicti instruction as to those uncharged criminal acts. He also contends the court prejudicially erred by (1) admitting into evidence portions of his journal writings under Evidence Code section 1108 because the actions described in the writings did not qualify as a sexual offense under that statute; (2) instructing the jury to consider charged offenses as propensity evidence under section 1108; and (3) allowing the People to admit evidence of his sexual orientation as well as the cover of a pornographic DVD on the issue of his intent and instructing the jury that the evidence was relevant on that issue, or, alternatively, failing to exclude that evidence under section 352. Poizner maintains the cumulative impact of these errors requires reversal.
    We decline to apply the corpus delicti rule to the section 1108 uncharged crimes evidence, and reject Poizner’s remaining contentions. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment.
    In 2009, Poizner was a volunteer counselor at Pacific Health Systems, a substance abuse rehabilitation center. There, he introduced himself to and befriended adolescent boys who were attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other group meetings, telling one of the boys he was there to help keep himself sober and assist other teenage boys. He then brought the boys to his apartment where he committed acts summarized below and for which he was convicted of the above-referenced offenses. At trial, each victim testified about Poizner’s conduct and touching, and the circumstances that otherwise led to the charges against him. Like Poizner’s opening brief, our factual summary focuses mainly on the evidence supporting the felony sexual assault offenses against Austin G., Brandon P., Evan W., and Andrew D.
    Counts 1-8: Austin G.
    In September 2009, Poizner agreed to become the AA sponsor of then 13-year-old Austin G. One night after an AA meeting, Poizner obtained Austin’s parents’ permission to take Austin out for coffee. Afterwards, Poizner took Austin back to his apartment, where he put on an adult pornographic movie for Austin to watch and gave him cigarettes. Poizner sat on a couch next to Austin and at some point began to touch Austin’s genitals over his clothing, then underneath his clothing. Poizner offered to orally copulate Austin but then resisted, telling Austin it would be “awkward” since he was Austin’s sponsor. Poizner asked Austin to show him his penis, and Austin did so by unbuttoning his pants. Poizner also kissed Austin on his buttocks. Austin and Poizner eventually left the apartment in Poizner’s car, where Poizner again rubbed Austin’s genitals over his clothing. When Poizner returned Austin home, he told Austin’s mother he was gay, but that he was into stable, committed relationships and not interested in teenagers or boys. Austin did not tell his mother what had happened because he was in shock and did not want anyone to know about it.
    Three days later, Austin’s mother dropped Austin off to meet Poizner at a comedy club. About an hour and a half later, they went back to Poizner’s apartment, where Poizner again put on pornography, pulled down Austin’s pants and began rubbing Austin’s genitals. Poizner also rubbed himself over his clothing, and then asked whether Austin wanted to be orally copulated. Again, Poizner refrained, acknowledging his role as Austin’s sponsor. Austin pulled up his pants, they smoked cigarettes, and Poizner took him home. On the way, Poizner told Austin not to tell anyone about what had happened.
    At trial, the People played for the jury a tape-recorded pretext call between Austin and Poizner, in which Austin talked about what had happened. Poizner asked Austin if he was angry at him, and told him “that shit’s never happened again.” Austin asked Poizner to not touch him on his genitals if they ever went out again, and Poizner responded with incriminating statements, saying it would “never again” happen and his touching Austin “was just like something that just kind of happened . . . .”
    Counts 11-18: Brandon P.
    In May 2009, Poizner became Brandon P.’s sponsor at Pacific Health Systems. Brandon P. was 13 years old at the time. Brandon began going to Poizner’s apartment where he would spend the night on Poizner’s mattress on the floor, sometimes with other friends, including Austin. Poizner usually slept on the mattress or on a couch in his bedroom. He would buy Brandon cigarettes, and also let him watch adult heterosexual pornographic videos.
    Sometimes before or after showing the videos, Poizner would massage Brandon’s back or feet, and sometimes the feet of the other boys. Sometimes he would hug Brandon and kiss him on the neck, usually when Brandon was leaving. On about 10 or 15 occasions in late 2009, Poizner spanked Brandon, sometimes pulling down his pants and exposing his buttocks and lightly spanking him, and sometimes having Brandon bend over his knee. Poizner also spoke about his sex life with Brandon while they were alone, telling Brandon about other men he had sex with, and describing oral sex. Poizner once jokingly offered to enter the shower while Brandon was showering. Brandon saw that Poizner touched himself in his groin area while the pornography was playing. On two different occasions, Poizner tapped Brandon’s penis with the back of his hand, once over Brandon’s clothes and another time after quickly pulling down Brandon’s boxers. Brandon testified that while he was still 13 years old, Poizner had massaged his back
    and neck about five times, and had hugged and kissed him a couple of times.
    When the allegations of Poizner’s molestations began to surface, Poizner called Brandon and told him to avoid speaking with an investigating detective. Poizner picked Brandon up at school that day to prevent him from seeing the detective.
    Count 19: Andrew D.
    Andrew D. was a school friend of Brandon’s, and got to know Poizner through Brandon. He went to Poizner’s house with Brandon and another friend, Colten. They rented a regular movie and at some point, Poizner massaged Andrew’s feet. Andrew fell asleep in Poizner’s bed wearing his shirt and boxer shorts. Colten slept in the same bed. When Andrew awoke, an adult heterosexual pornographic movie was playing on the television, and Poizner, Andrew and Colten watched it for about a half an hour.
    Counts 20-23: Evan W.
    Evan W., who was twelve years old at the time of trial, was another school friend of Brandon’s and met Poizner through Brandon. One night, Evan called Poizner, who picked him up in Encinitas and took him downtown where they ate and walked around, and eventually ended up at Poizner’s apartment. Evan and Poizner watched a movie, and Evan consumed most of an alcoholic drink that Poizner had purchased for him. Evan was lying on Poizner’s bed over the covers but got sick and passed out, awaking to find himself under the covers with adult heterosexual pornography on the television.
    Evan estimated he spent the night at Poizner’s apartment about 10 times. Poizner always gave Evan cigarettes. Evan, along with his friend Stephen, spent a third night at Poizner’s apartment after Christmas of 2009, and drank another alcoholic beverage. On this occasion, Poizner used a belt to spank both Stephen and Evan on their bare buttocks multiple times, joking that it was to punish them for going out and needing a ride. Evan laughed, though Evan did not want Poizner to spank him.
    On the fourth night Evan spent at Poizner’s apartment, Poizner massaged Evan’s back underneath his shirt, and eventually slipped his hands into Evan’s pants and massaged his penis. Evan also recalled spending the night at a hotel with Poizner and other boys on more than one occasion. Poizner would give the boys foot massages and once kissed Evan’s foot.
    Poizner told Evan not to tell anyone about coming to his apartment and drinking or the fact Poizner had touched him. He told Evan not to speak about his arrest and that Evan did not have to answer questions from the police.
    Testimony of Brandon P.’s Friends
    Colten A., Deon D., Erick N., Tyler M., and Gabriel G. were Brandon’s friends who all at some point visited Poizner’s apartment. On one occasion there, Colten A. fell asleep and awoke to find a pornographic video playing and Poizner, who was only a few inches away from him, looking at him and Brandon. He became concerned when he noticed most of his fly was unbuttoned though it had been closed when he fell asleep.
    While at Poizner’s apartment, Deon D. saw Poizner give Gabriel G. a kiss. Deon also observed that Poizner was always talking about sex, gave Brandon a back massage on one occasion, and once bet him and other friends that Brandon had a bigger penis than them.
    Erick N. smoked hookah and cigarettes given to him by Poizner at Poizner’s apartment. Poizner once massaged Erick’s feet at a hotel and on one occasion kissed him on the neck. Poizner asked Erick about masturbation and talked about girls giving Erick oral sex while touching Erick on his thigh near his groin, making Erick feel uncomfortable.
    Poizner offered Gabriel G. cigarettes and offered to show him and others pornographic videos. When allegations against Poizner surfaced, he called Gabriel and discouraged him from telling anyone he had gone to Poizner’s apartment, and told him to come up with a “really good alibi.” According to Gabriel, Poizner claimed Brandon’s father was trying to make false accusations. He also discouraged Gabriel from saying anything to police.
    Testimony of James A.
    In November of 2005, James A., who had turned 18 years old the month before, was stationed in the military in San Diego, and met Poizner when Poizner offered to give him a ride back to his base. They exchanged numbers and James A. called Poizner to meet and “hang out.” Eventually, they ended up at Poizner’s house where James A. drank alcohol and they watched movies. After the first visit, James A. spent several nights at Poizner’s house drinking and watching pornographic movies. James A. slept on the couch in the living room and Poizner slept in his bedroom. On one occasion, Poizner gave James A. a back massage. On another occasion while they were watching pornography, Poizner, who had told James A. he was bisexual, gave James A. a “weird look,” causing James A. to feel awkward. James A. asked to be taken back to his ship because he did not know what Poizner was planning on doing.
    Evidence of Poizner’s Journal Entries
    Before trial, the court considered the People’s motion to admit a number of writings found in Poizner’s home, including journal entries Poizner admitted writing describing his actions on different occasions with respect to two individuals identified as “James” and “Homeboy.” The trial court heard extensive argument concerning the writings and excluded some as reflecting dissimilar conduct that was highly prejudicial. However, expressly conducting a section 352 analysis and inferring that the entry about “James” referred to James A., the court concluded that the two journal entries regarding James and Homeboy reflected recent conduct—including fondling, spanking, and showing the subjects pornography at Poizner’s house—that was sufficiently similar to the charged misconduct to give them a high degree of relevance on the issues of Poizner’s propensity and intent, as well as corroborating the victims’ testimony.
    At trial, the journal entries were read into evidence by a prosecution investigator. The entry concerning “James” began, “Dear James,” then Poizner wrote that he had fondled James while he was sleeping, he had apologized to James about it but lied about why he did it, he was working through his ” ‘sexual acting out through S.C.A. and the 10th Step,’ ” and offered to “make things right.” The reverse side of the writing stated: ” ’10th Step. Last night I fondled this guy James while he was sleeping on my couch. He had nowhere else to go. I decided to do it. Not . . . it would affect him or not [sic]. He woke up startled.’ ” In the Homeboy entry, Poizner described various sexual acts he and Homeboy had engaged in, including oral copulation, masturbation and spanking, at times while watching pornography. Poizner wrote that he was Homeboy’s AA sponsor when Homeboy was 17 years old, and that he had to personally observe Homeboy’s drug testing, which necessitated watching him urinate. Poizner described fantasizing about Homeboy’s penis and orally copulating him. Poizner also described how, on the night of Homeboy’s 18th birthday, he came to Poizner’s house where Poizner massaged him over his genital area and on his buttocks, and with his consent, spanked him on his bare buttocks ” ‘for his birthday. . . .’ ” Poizner wrote that he recalled ” ‘possibly smacking [Homeboy’s] ass a couple of times before, jokingly, before he was 18, I think once.’ ”
    Jury Instructions as to Journal Entries, Corpus Delicti, Prior Crimes and Other Acts and Admissions
    The trial court instructed the jury with regard to Poizner’s writings and on corpus delicti, as follows: “You have heard evidence that the defendant made oral and written statements before the trial. You must decide whether the defendant made any of these statements, in whole or in part. If you decide that the defendant made such statements, consider the statements, along with all the other evidence, in reaching your verdict. It is up to you to decide how much importance to give to the statements. Consider with caution any statement made by the defendant tending to show his guilt unless the statement was written or otherwise recorded. [] The defendant may not be convicted of any crime based on his out-of-court statements alone. This is the corpus delicti rule. You may only rely on the defendant’s out-of-court statements to convict him if you conclude that other evidence shows that the charged crime was committed. [] That other evidence may be slight and need only be enough to support a reasonable inference that a crime was committed. The identity of the person who committed the crime and the degree of the crime may be proved by the defendant’s statements alone.”
    The trial court also instructed the jury regarding the People’s evidence of other charged and uncharged sex offenses, and gave a limiting instruction as to Poizner’s consensual sexual conduct and sexual preference. As read to the jury, the instructions, consisting in part of a modified version of CALCRIM No. 1191, provided:
    “The People presented evidence in this case that the defendant committed sexual offenses not charged in this case. This refers to the defendant’s writings: ‘Dear James,’ specifically unzipping the victim’s pants and fondling him while he was asleep, and ‘Homeboy,’ specifically spanking on the bare buttocks, if determined to be accomplished for the purpose of deriving sexual pleasure from the infliction of physical pain.
    “In addition, sexual offense crimes against three alleged victims are charged in this case. These are Counts 1 through 6, which relate to Austin G.; 9 through 14, which related to Brandon B.; and 22 and 23, relating to Evan W. These crimes are defined for you in these instructions.
    “In evaluating whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of each charged sex offense . . . you may consider this evidence, the above-described charged and uncharged offenses, only if the People have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant in fact committed any or all of those offenses. If the People have not met this burden of proof as to any of these offenses, you must disregard the evidence relating to that offense entirely in your consideration of any other charged crime.
    “If you decide that a sexual offense charged or uncharged, was committed, you may, but are not required to, conclude from that evidence that the defendant was disposed or inclined to commit sexual offenses, and based on that decision, also conclude that the defendant was likely to commit the charged sex offenses here.
    “If you conclude that the defendant committed any or all of the charged or uncharged sexual offenses, that conclusion is only one factor to consider along with all the other evidence. It is not sufficient by itself to prove that the defendant is guilty of each count. The People must still prove each element of each charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
    “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt has already been defined for you.
    “You may also consider this evidence for the purpose of: deciding whether or not the defendant acted with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of himself or the child as alleged in Counts 1 through 6, 9 through 14, 22 and 23—those are the sexual offenses and the specific intent required; for deciding whether or not the defendant had a plan or scheme to commit the above counts; and in evaluating the credibility of witnesses.
    “The People also presented evidence that: the defendant engaged in other sexual conduct, specifically consensual sexual activity with another male, ‘Homeboy,’ after the age of 18; they presented evidence that the defendant was in possession of pornographic videos; and evidence that the defendant has admitted being homosexual and/or bisexual and was in possession of a homosexual DVD case.
    “You must not consider this evidence in determining where [sic] the defendant was disposed or inclined to commit sexual offenses. You may consider this evidence solely for the limited purpose of: deciding whether or not the defendant acted with the specific intent required for the sex crimes; deciding whether or not the defendant had a plan or scheme to commit the sex crimes; and evaluating the credibility of witnesses.”
    I. Claim of Corpus Delicti Violation
    Poizner contends the admission of the uncharged acts reflected in the writings concerning James and Homeboy violated the corpus delicti rule and his right to due process because there was no corresponding evidence of these acts independent of his writings, and the jury was not instructed to determine whether those acts were supported by any quantum of independent evidence. He argues that absent proof of the corpus delicti, the uncharged crimes were irrelevant, not properly presented to the jury, and could not be considered as propensity evidence.

    • Fuck you who ever put this last reply up detailing everything. I’m one of those kids and if anyone else from my childhood saw this they’d know I was one of the victims and know exactly what happened to me you piece of shit. Who the fuck do you think you are putting the names of underage molestation victims out there? Putting my first name and last initial still makes it pretty easy for everyone to figure it out considering they all saw me at court. Take this shit down asshole!

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