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Parents, kids and booze: Mom and dad liable when teens party at home

Wikimedia Commons | BDN
Wikimedia Commons | BDN
By Daniel Hartill, Sun Journal

Until she spoiled her own secret — igniting a late-night police search and a long list of court summonses — an unidentified 15-year-old girl’s partying might never have been discovered.

The Turner girl lied to her family, telling them she was going to a nearby friend’s home. Instead, she went to Greene. She joined a small party of teens in a Route 202 home where the only grown-up was asleep.

And the teen began drinking.

The girl, whose name is not being released by authorities, sent pictures of the party to friends via the photo messaging app Snapchat. Family members discovered the images after midnight on April 6 and called 911.

“If not for all the computer jazz, we might never have known,” said Androscoggin County Sheriff Guy Desjardins.

Deputy Sgt. Tim Kachnovich found the girl. And she wasn’t alone. He discovered seven teenagers. All were drinking.

“One male was passed out on the couch,” Desjardins said, citing Kachnovich’s report.

The teens — three girls and four boys — ranged in age from 14 to 18. And there was no supervision. Homeowner Inga Roberts said she was upstairs sleeping the whole time, unaware that her children were drinking or had invited anyone into her house.

Roberts was charged with furnishing a place for minors to consume or possess alcohol. The teens were all summoned for underage drinking.

“I did not knowingly allow this to happen,” Roberts said. “I would like to do anything I can in the future to prevent this from happening.”

Teen drinking and trouble

Parents’ role in — and liability for — their teens’ drinking is one issue within the much larger problem of teen drinking in Maine, which, authorities say, has become all too routine.

On April 10, a pair of Stratton teens, whom police say had been drinking, crashed a pickup near Carrabassett Valley’s Oh My Gosh Corner. The truck hit a utility poll and rolled, the Franklin County Sheriff’s office said.

Driver Robert Rivers, 19, and his passenger, Keegan Rolbiecki, 18, had been drinking at homes in Kingfield and New Portland when the accident occurred around 1 a.m., police say. Both young men were hurt but not severely.

“If somebody had been coming the other way, they could have killed somebody,” Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said.

“We’re trying our best to crack down on [teen drinking and driving],” he said. “There’s a lot of it going on.”

Officials don’t know how much underage drinking is going on in Maine. Evidence suggests it’s pervasive.

In a survey of Maine students last year, more than a third of high school seniors said they had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. Most said they would unlikely be caught by parents or police.

However, they are being caught. In most areas of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, federal and state grants are helping pay overtime for law enforcement groups to form special details aimed at catching underage drinkers. The details boost ongoing efforts to catch young drinkers every day.

In Androscoggin County, almost 2,000 juveniles have been arrested or summoned for alcohol-related offenses since 2009, according to a database search by the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department.

The numbers — which include only those cases handled by the sheriff’s department and the Lewiston and Auburn police departments — average more than one incident per day.

To view the full story, go to http://www.sunjournal.com/news/maine/2014/04/26/parents-kids-booze/1522438


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