Q: A member stole funds from my home meeting. Another member has a phone video of this person admitting to the theft. I know both members. The person with the evidence is wondering if we should press charges. The amount is about $50.
A: I consulted other Board of Trustees (BOT) members to determine their experience with this issue, and they had several thoughts and suggestions.
Tradition One says, “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity.” What impact would pressing charges have on the unity of the group? No BOT member knows of any group, intergroup or region that has pressed charges when funds went missing. That does not mean your group cannot do it. Tradition Four gives your group the right to press charges, but for $50 that seems a bit extreme, and your group might find itself in a possible public controversy that would not be in harmony with Tradition Ten. A group conscience might be wise to find a way to prevent a future recurrence.
An intervention with this person, the person who has the video and one other person would also be appropriate. The damage this theft has done and will do to the person who took the funds is of concern. This kind of thing can eat away at one’s recovery. The individual needs kindness and compassion, not accusations, and needs the opportunity to make restitution. An incident of this type could cause someone to leave the group and possibly OA, with dire consequences if he or she is a compulsive eater. Everyone deserves a chance to make amends, make restitution and be forgiven.
Such a conversation is not easy, but we need to be responsible guardians of the Traditions. Concept 12e could be a guide:
“Compassion: (e) No service action shall ever be personally punitive or an incitement to public controversy.
“Sometimes a member may act inappropriately or be unable to fulfill the duties of an elected service position. As a Fellowship and individually, we make every attempt to act with compassion. If an individual’s behavior is such that it is no longer appropriate for that person to continue in the position to which he or she was elected or appointed, we may have to request or insist that the individual resign. However, before taking such an extreme step, we should consult with others to ensure that every means of support and encouragement has first been made available” (The Twelve Concepts of OA Service, p. 15).
— Members of the Board of Trustees provide answers to these questions
WSBC 2007 Ask-It Basket Questions
Because of time constraints, BOT members were unable to answer all Ask-It Basket questions submitted by delegates. Click here to download a PDF file of the remaining questions and answers.
Ask-It Basket Archive
Click on the link below to see an archive of previous Ask-It Basket questions and answers. Remember that these answers are the opinions of individual members of the Board of Trustees and others may have different opinions. It’s a good idea to read other OA materials that address an issue and ask around in meetings for more opinions. Also keep in mind that circumstances change and opinions are refined over time.