PORTLAND — A former Deering High School assistant coach was sentenced to 10 days in jail, 50 hours of community service and fined $2,000 for his role in hosting an underage drinking party last year for the high school baseball team.
Frank Watson pleaded guilty Monday to furnishing a place for minors to consume alcohol and furnishing alcohol to minors.
Watson’s wife, Kimberly, was also sentenced for furnishing a place for minors to consume alcohol. She was sentenced to three days in jail, but will complete her 72 hours through the Cumberland County Jail’s Alternative Sentencing Program.
District Attorney Stephanie Anderson originally sought a 30-day jail sentence for Frank Watson, citing a prior case where a woman who bought alcohol for her child received a 30-day sentence.
“I thought (Watson’s) behavior was as serious, if not more serious, than the other case,” Anderson said, noting Waston’s status as a role model and the trust placed in him by parents.
The Watsons pleaded guilty to hosting a June 21, 2008, party that celebrated the Deering High School baseball team’s state championship. Word about the party spread after several students posted photos to social networking sites on the Internet.
The cases of two other former coaches, Christopher Grant and Michael D’Andrea Jr., are still pending, said Anderson, who is scheduling a meeting with attorneys representing the coaches.
Deering’s head baseball coach, Michael D’Andrea Sr., who admitted no wrong-doing in the incident, resigned during the probe.
Anderson said she hopes the jail sentence will send a message to parents and others who believe that underage drinking is OK as long as it’s supervised and they take the keys so no one drives. “That is a complete myth,” she said, noting that two-thirds of all underage drinking deaths are unrelated to automobile accidents.
Underage drinking also increases the likelihood of alcohol dependency, she said. Children who drink before the age of 15 are four times as likely to become alcohol-dependent and children drinking before the age of 17 are twice as likely.
Ninety percent of underage alcohol consumption is geared towards binge drinking, which can lead to developmental problems and encourage other risky behaviors like unprotected sex and violent crimes, Anderson said.
Parents who tolerate underage drinking “are putting their kids at risk,” Anderson said. “And other people’s kids.”
Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.