SAYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The arrest of a Long Island couple after a teenage girl got alcohol poisoning at their house has renewed the debate about the perils of supervised underage drinking.
Meanwhile, the man who was arrested said he and his wife called 911 themselves to make sure the girl would be safe.
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, the underage drinking party was allegedly held at the home of John and Stacie Butler in Sayville.
According to police, about 25 teens were gathered in an apartment separate from the home. Police said there were shot glasses, Solo cups and evidence of a beer drinking game when they arrived.
A 16-year-old girl who was a guest at the party was ill with alcohol poisoning, police said. Other underage teens were also visibly drunk and witnesses told police that large amounts of vodka had been consumed, according to police.
The Butler’s 16-year-old daughter had invited friends over following a banquet at St. Anthony’s High School in Melville, but additional guests showed up to the party, police said.
The Butlers, both 54, were arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child and were released on bail.
When CBS 2 went to the Butler house to talk about the incident, Stacie Butler slammed the door. However, John Butler did speak about the incident.
“We are very glad that [the ill teen] is doing fine. The party was supervised. Unfortunately, this happened, and we had to make the case – we called 911 just to ensure her safety,” John Butler said.
When asked about how he feels about the Social Host Law in Suffolk County, which imposes criminal penalties on those who serve or allow alcohol to be provided to minors on their property, John Butler declined further comment.
“I am sorry,” he said. “I am going to have to ask you to respect our privacy.”
The girl has been released from the hospital. Meanwhile, Stacie and John Butler were stunned to discover that they were being charged with child endangerment and could face a year in jail.
“Many parents believe that if they allow their children or children’s friends to drink at home, they are safer and better off,” said Suffolk County Police Capt. Christopher Bergold. “But parents are not only fooling their children by allowing them to drink at home, but are fooling themselves in thinking they’re not creating greater problems.”
Experts say illegal underage drinking leads to fatal car crashes, overdoses, risky behavior, and liabilities for parents. Responsibilities are enormous, parents said.
“Underage drinking is not only illegal, it is patently dangerous,” said Jeffrey Reynolds of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency. “So when I hear parents say, ‘Well I’d rather they did it under my own roof,’ I ask — in particular fathers – ‘Do you feel the same way about sex?’ They say, ‘No, not under my roof.’”
Experts advise taking a harder line and not trying to be a popular friend to your kids. Instead, be a parent – send the right messages, including that teen drinking is unsafe and unhealthy, experts said.
Breaking Suffolk County’s child endangerment and social host laws can mean heavy fines and even jail time for parents.
Do you agree with the experts’ advice? Leave your comments below…