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Archive for Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tonganoxie couple fined for hosting teen parties with alcohol

August 18, 2010

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Richard Whaler

Richard Whaler

Julie Whaler

Julie Whaler

In what the judge and prosecutor agreed was a cautionary tale for changing times, a Tonganoxie husband and wife were fined $2,000 each and received one-year suspended sentences for hosting parties at which alcohol was available to minors.

The fines were assessed to Julie Whaler, 47, and Richard Whaler, 44, on two misdemeanor counts. In addition, each received two six-month suspended jail sentences and were placed on probation for one year.

Leavenworth County District Judge Gunnar Sundby handed down the sentences Tuesday in a case that was filed after two parties at the couple's Tonganoxie home in October 2009 and February 2010.

The couple entered no contest pleas on the counts last month.

In short statements to the court, both Julie and Richard Whaler apologized and told Sundby he would never see them in his courtroom again.

Jeff Carlin, the couple's attorney, asked Sundby to forego the minimum $1,000 fine for each count and not to impose any jail time or probation. The Whalers had complied with everything the court asked of them and apologized for the incident, he said.

“A mistake was made by two parents who love their daughter,” he said. “This daughter had kids over. Kids were drinking. They should have put a stop to it.

“The lesson has been learned.”

The couple has suffered socially, financially and professionally for the incident, Carlin said. He suggested that a some time most in the courtroom had participated in an activity very much like the parties at the Whalers' home.

The couple had been subjected to a “witch hunt,” with the school resource officer interviewing more than 60 teenagers in the investigation, Carlin said. Law enforcement officers continue to drive by the couple's home on weekends, he said.

In handing down his sentence, Sundby said much of what Carlin said was true. But he added: “Times are changing.” The Legislature wrote the statute with a significant minimum fine with the goal of curtailing such activity, he said.

After the sentencing, Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said the fine sent a message.

“I hope parents pay attention to that, and the potential they could go to jail for making alcohol available for children,” he said.

As for the characterization of a witch hunt, Thompson noted the couple had hosted two parties, and law enforcement officers likely assumed there had been more. It was officers’ responsibility to protect children from such environments, especially if there was the potential for drinking and driving, he said.

Comments

redmorgan 3 years, 8 months ago

Does anyone know how old these kids were? I had a few friends in high school whose folks would let us have a few beers at their homes. I don't think it's that big of a deal.

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imastinker 3 years, 8 months ago

There are lots of disturbing things in this article. I don't even know where to start.

1) These kids are old enough to drink responsibly. Kids their age all over the world do it. It's a shame that our culture has pushed this behavior under the table and made it manifest itself in these binge drinking pasture parties.

2) Kids shouldn't be interviewed at school. They are there to study. The event didn't happen at school and parents should have been there with the kids for an interview with the officer.

3) The parents shouldn't have done this. I wonder how much the parents of the other kids knew what was going on?

4) The kids shouldn't have been drinking. Right or wrong, it's against the law.

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Practicality 3 years, 8 months ago

The police can question/interogate a minor without the presence of the childs parent and without parental notification. The minor does have a right to request an attorney though, but not their parents. The parental notification is only when the child or minor is taken into custody, but, it has been argued successfully in court that school has custody of the child or minor while the minor is there.

When an officer or detective is investigating a crime, they can question anyone, this includes minors, without any notice given to the parents at all.

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kansanbygrace 3 years, 8 months ago

Resource officer should be better trained and act professionally. He/she has absolutely no business corralling minors, one-on-one and grilling them. The potential for accusations of minor abuse and molestation require that the juvenile NEVER be isolated one-on-one. It doesn't have to be an attorney. It does have to be a second responsible adult. Surprised the authorities haven't already pasted the school board, the principal, and the resource officer with some LWOP while an investigation is conducted to determine what went on in those "interviews".

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edjayhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

WHat a couple of losers from a loser town. Why do I care what happens in Tongi?

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easyliving 3 years, 8 months ago

Djacrew- There are a lot of great people in Tonganoxie, no question there. Last year was difficult for everyone and I can only hope this year is not the same.

Regardless of the tragedies, people pass judgment without all the facts and this is magnified in a small town.

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easyliving 3 years, 8 months ago

Cheeseburger- thanks for the support. Please remind your children, because they are minors they have no rights and should do everything the SRO requests, without question.

Your friend,

enabler

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Uhjh 3 years, 8 months ago

Bring back 3.2 beer and 18 years old to drink it. Kids get stronger beer today.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 8 months ago

Many troubling things in this article regarding law enforcement. Still, it appears these two exercised very poor judgement. Sixty kids were interviewed!? Back in the old days, I went to college "house parties" were there were not that many kids. You can not stop teens from doing what they're going to do. We have had groups of maybe 8-10 or so and they build a fire out in the fire pit in the back yard. We gather keys upon arrival and check them at the door when leaving. Other than that, we don't condone any underage drinking, but again are realists too. I know that when an announced big party comes up on the radar, LV county authorities will communicate with high school administrators and they do not hide it. I think that is a good thing. How many teens lives (or other lives) have been saved by a huge parties being basically cancelled? Probably at least a few.

Wow!

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easyliving 3 years, 8 months ago

scopi-guy- The kids were primarily 16+ years old. My teenagers attended one of the parties and were later interrogated by the resource officer during school without our knowledge. It was not an interview and it really put a lot of kids in a bad position. They were interrogated and then got to come home and say "the resource officer took me into a room today and questioned me for an hour about a party I went to the other night, he told me not to say anything to anyone."

I do not want my children drinking, but I realize I can not lock them in a closet either. What I can do is educate them on laws, educate them on right and wrong, earn their trust and hope they make good decisions.

The Whalers are good people, good parents and they have good kids. They made a bad decision and because of this have become outcasts in a town of people that have nothing better to do than hope something bad happens to their neighbor so it makes their family look less dysfunctional. (small town living at its best)

I can promise you this- the resource officer will never question my children again without an Attorney present. I'm guessing all the kids will go talk with him about their problems..."come on you can trust me, I won't say anything."

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senegal66025 3 years, 8 months ago

Its heard being a parent of teenagers. Thank God my kids made it thru.

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scopi_guy 3 years, 8 months ago

Wonder how old the kids were. Big difference between 13-14 and 18-19.

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blindrabbit 3 years, 8 months ago

Tongie getting an inordinate amount of press lately; Mayoral issues, chicken rustling, tortoise escaping, parents hosting parties with teens drinking. Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton must be feeling left out. Weatherman Henry must have been correct; it's the Tonganoxie Split.

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werekoala 3 years, 8 months ago

Because, see, if you just tell your kids not to do something, there's no way they would do it anyway, right?

So it's best to just keep the kids lying to the parents and the parents ignorant of what their kids are really up to. Because otherwise, teens might drink, as opposed to what we have now, where they never do, unless a parent is riding shotgun on their binge.

It's all really stupid. Growing up we had a few parents in our group in high school that were cool with our crowd coming over and having some beers, they took the keys, and we probably got in much less trouble than we would have if we'd been getting hammered and teen pregnant in a field somewhere.

I have no idea if that's what this was, or if it was the entire football team and cheerleading squads floating three kegs (i'm a little too old to have been invited).

But the fact that we can't recognize a difference between the two extremes bespeaks a failure of the law to recognize the grey areas that exist in this sort of thing. Plus, it is of course ridiculous that a man can enlist, be wounded for our country, come home, vote, buy a house and start his own business years before he is judged competent to drink a beer.

But no one over 21, including myself, really cares...

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somedude20 3 years, 8 months ago

"He suggested that a some time most in the courtroom had participated in an activity very much like the parties at the Whalers' home."

is my brain fried from working all day or does the above sentence not make sense? Guess that is why no one wants to take credit for this

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