Falmouth parent among those charged in underage drinking cases
FALMOUTH — Police issued a dozen summonses related to underage drinking in connection with two recent incidents, including charging a parent they believe was unaware of the use of alcohol at her home.
The charges bring the total number of citations for underage drinking to 20 since late May.
Despite the recent spike in citations, Police Chief Ed Tolan said the department has not taken any additional steps to crack down on underage drinking in the wake of a high-profile case that concluded earlier this year with two adults agreeing to do community service and pay fines.
"We've been responsible when responding to parties with teenage drinking," Tolan said. "Unfortunately, one party has seemed to grab the limelight. It's been consistent over the years."
He said this year's volume of citations is on par with that of other years.
The two cases in the last month were not related to each other, and information about them was not made publicly available until Friday, about a month after the first charges were filed. Police Lt. John Kilbride said the release was delayed by paperwork and the need to contact multiple parties.
The first incident was on Aug. 12, when a 17-year-old boy was charged with possessing alcohol and furnishing a place for minors to consume alcohol after taking a girl out on his parents boat in Portland Harbor.
Kilbride said police interviewed five people who said they were on the boat, which was docked near DiMillo's restaurant in Portland when police arrived.
Kilbride said the group had been drinking and that the girl had passed out. Emergency crews arrived a short time later and she was taken to Maine Medical Center to be treated for alcohol poisoning, he said.
Police only charged the boy whose parents owned the boat.
On Sept. 2, police issued 10 summonses charging nine minors with illegally possessing alcohol. One adult, the mother of one of the teens, was charged with allegedly allowing the minors to possess and consume alcohol at her home.
The incident would have gone unnoticed if it weren't for an accidental 911 "pocket dial," Kilbride said.
When the operater answered, all she could hear was someone saying "she just punched me," Kilbride said. Then the call ended.
The operator called back, police traced the number and made a required follow-up to the Falmouth Road home.
Police allegedly found the minors had been drinking beer, but that the homeowner, Jennifer R. Nolan, 48, was "not aware of the drinking and had been duped," Kilbride said.
He said Nolan brought food to the kids, who were in a loft above the garage. After she left, he said, the teens allegedly pulled out the alcohol.
Nolan was charged with allowing minors to possess or consumer liquor because she was in control of the house, Kilbride said, even though she cooperated with police.
Three 18-year-olds – William Sipperly of Falmouth Road, Charles Hurdman of Carroll Street, and Cody Livermore, of Ideal Lane, Ludlow, Mass. – and four boys and two girls, all 17, were charged with illegal possession of liquor by a minor.
Tolan said neither of these events, nor the events of last summer, have changed how police handle underage drinking.
At a June 2012 party to celebrate championships won by the Falmouth High School boys lacrosse and baseball teams, nine teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 were charged with consuming or possessing alcohol.
In February, homeowners Barry and Paula Spencer agreed to pay $6,000 in restitution, make a $2,500 donation to the Victim's Compensation Fund, complete 100 hours of community service and write a letter for publication in The Forecaster taking responsibility for hosting the celebration.
Tolan said although that party received considerable publicity, it hasn't changed anything at the Police Department.
"It's something we're doing our best to combat for safety," he said. "It doesn't benefit us to summons a young person to court. It's not something we enjoy doing. We have to do it, it's the law. But, really, we don't want to see a young person get behind a car and have a tragedy happen."