Washington Post-When Kristen was 17 and drinking out of control, her psychologist referred her to an Alcoholics Anonymous group that specialized in helping the youngest drinkers. In the Midtown Group, members and outsiders agree, young people could find new friends, constant fellowship, daily meetings, summer-long beach parties, and a charismatic leader who would steer them through sobriety.
But according to more than a dozen young people who structured their lives around the group, the unusual adaptation of AA that Michael Quinones created from his home in Bethesda became a confusing blend of comfort and crisis. They described a rigidly insular world of group homes and socializing, in which older men had sex with teenage girls, ties to family and friends were severed or strained, and the most vulnerable of alcoholics, some suffering from emotional problems, were encouraged to stop taking prescribed medications.
Kristen, now 26, said that for eight years, she was “passed along” from one middle-aged male leader of Midtown to another. She said her sponsor urged her to have sex with Quinones — widely known as Mike Q. — as a way to solidify her sobriety and spiritual revival. Kristen, who spoke on the condition that her last name not be used in keeping with AA traditions, also recalled helping to persuade other teenage girls to sleep with older men in the group.
“I pimped my sponsees out to sponsors,” she said, referring to the AA members who agree to watch over a fellow member’s sobriety. “I encouraged them to sleep with their sponsors because I really believed that this would help with their sobriety.”
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Former Members of Midtown Call it a Coercive, Cultlike Group; Were Cut Off
From Friends, Asked To Do Menial Chores, Date Only Group Members
Current Members Say ‘Midtown’ Saved Their Lives; Say Critics Resent Their
Success, Settling Scores
Recovering alcoholics say a Washington, D.C., group has hijacked the 12-step program’s name.