AA Sponsor Charged with Attempted Murder and Arrested for Sexually Abusing Sponsee


Alleged sex abuser now charged with attempted murder     

OSAGE, Iowa – A case of alleged sexual abuse in Mitchell County has escalated to a charge of attempted murder.

50-year-old Mark Bernard Retterath of Osage was charged in February with three counts of 3rd degree sex abuse, one count of 2nd degree sex abuse and solicitation to commit a felony.  That involved alleged incidents in 2003, 2006 and 2012.

Retterath is now accused of intending to kill the alleged victim of that sex abuse.  The Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office says it received word on June 9  Retterath was planning to murder the alleged victim by extracting the poison ricin from castor beans, a technique Retterath reportedly saw on the television show “Breaking Bad.”

Authorities executed a search warrant at Retterath’s home on June 12 and say they discovered castor beans, documentation on how to extract ricin from the beans and equipment that could be used for such an extraction.

In addition, Retterath has been charged with 3rd degree sex abuse and sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist, for allegedly committing sex acts against the will of a person while Retterath was that person’s sponsor in the group Alcoholics Anonymous.  These crimes allegedly occurred sometime between approximately mid-May and mid-June.

A preliminary hearing in the attempted murder case is set for June 19.  Retterath is being held without bond.


9 thoughts on “AA Sponsor Charged with Attempted Murder and Arrested for Sexually Abusing Sponsee

  1. This is a sad story. I spend a lot of time and money each week doing volunteer work face to face with recovering addicts. I don’t agree with NA’s and AA’s requirement that sponsors have to be recovering addicts. I do understand the thought process that someone who has been through recovery can help and understand what a new person in recovery is going through. However, the relapse rate is so high that I see recovering addicts trusting sponsors that can’t stay clean themselves.

  2. I think the pamphlet on sponsorship will have to figure prominently in the case. They might have to address how the updates were presented to the membership because the ‘old-timers’ might not know of any changes that were made therefore may be continuing to instruct membership using information from old literature.



    • Plus…. there is the stuff in the literature plus all the ‘unwritten’ rules and expectations of AA. Example: ‘A sponsor takes a person through the steps.’.


  3. ‘…sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist…’ I love this new twist. I think a very good argument could be made that a sponsor – takes on the role of Councillor but there will be a very hard time proving this in court as AA has literature about what it doesn’t do. They will have to prove that the literature does not reflect the beliefs of the people involved – and probably a whole lot more.


    • This doesn’t really have to be “proven,” just “demonstrated.” The “spiritual, not religious” claim was tossed many years ago, simply by a Judge who actually read the 12 steps from Chapter 5 of the BB.

  4. Another Robber sent to AA Meetings-

    Rite Aid robber sentenced in Cumberland County Court this week

    May 20, 2015

    CARLISLE – A Walnut Bottom man won’t go to jail for his role in a July 2014 narcotics robbery at the Rite Aid pharmacy on the Carlisle Pike in Hampden Township.

    Cumberland County Judge Albert Masland credited Ronald Lee Wolf, 31, with 57 days he already served after his July 7, 2014, arrest and granted immediate parole, ordering him to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings for two months and submit to a drug and alcohol evaluation.

    Woolf pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property in the Rite Aid incident and to two thefts in January 2014. Tuesday’s sentence covered all three crimes.

    The judge further ordered him to pay court costs and restitution, which for the Rite Aid robbery was $52,444, owed jointly with Kassandra Mae Krick.

    Krick, 24, of Mechanicsburg, participated with Woolf in robbing the Rite Aid pharmacy. She pled guilty in November 2014 and was granted parole in February.

    Masland ordered Woolf to have no contact with her.

    • The “therapist or counselor” is what caught my eye in the story. Apparently the prosecutor in the case sees an AA sponsor as having the role of therapist or counselor.

      It’s interesting how these things are sorted out legally. I recall a case maybe ten years ago, someone admitted in an AA meeting to killing someone (others from the meeting told police), the defense tried to get the charge removed because of the claim of anonymity in meetings and “clergy privilege” and thus that it couldn’t be used in court, but what was said in an AA meeting was ruled NOT to be a privileged conversation, and could be used in court. There may have been some ruling on whether a 12-step sponsor has the same privileged conversations as a therapist, but I don’t recall offhand.

      Years earlier was the Froistad case where the guy on a Moderation Management email list confessed to murder. Some were upset that the police were told! Many on the list had of course been to AA, and some were still so “programmed” with AA that they expected the “what you hear here, who you see here, when you leave here let it stay here” thing to apply there as well.

      • This will be interesting to see how this is played out as far as the person being a counselor.

        It was quite shocking that some on the MM board did not want to go to the police.

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