by K. L. Billingsley
originally published in Heterodoxy: Articles and Animadversions on Political Correctness and Other Follies, Volume 1, No. 8, January 1993
On the morning of May 9, 1989, eight-year-old Alicia Wade awoke complaining of pain deep in her midsection. Her father, 37-year-old Navy enlisted man James Wade, and her mother Denise, took the girl to the NAVCARE facility in San Diego, where initially she either couldn’t or wouldn’t explain what happened. The doctor found that the child’s anal and vaginal regions had been torn in a sexual attack and would need to be surgically repaired. When informed of this, both parents showed great distress and began to weep uncontrollably. The NAVCARE doctor immediately called the local Child Protection Services.
CPS immediately suspected family involvement for two reasons: the rapist, they believed, had not removed the child from her room, and Alicia did not immediately complain of pain. The CPS worker interpreted the hours the Wades had spent at NAVCARE as a delay in reporting the crime, and thus an additional sign of guilt.
Though shaken by what had happened to their daughter and also by the hints of accusation they felt coming from authorities, the Wades cooperated fully in an interview with CPS. They could not hide the fact that they were overweight, which child welfare authorities often take as evidence of general neglect. They did not hide the fact that Denise Wade had been molested as a child and that James was a recovering alcoholic who twice blacked out while drinking in foreign ports. They did not know that they were waving “red flags” that further substantiated suspicions toward family involvement in the crime. They had no idea that authorities were already beginning to build a case against them and were taking particular aim at James Wade, who was a walking bull’s-eye because he was a white middle-aged male and a serviceman in addition to his other defects.
The Wades were more interested in the facts. During an evidentiary exam at the Center for Child Protection, their daughter Alicia calmly told the physician that a man came through the window, claimed to be her “uncle”, took her out in a green car and “hurt” her. They would have had a better notion of the ordeal ahead of them if they had known that on the space on the medical form for “chief complaint in the child’s own words”, the examining doctor ignored Alicia’s testimony and wrote only that the child showed “total denial”.