Chafee’s Son Tied to Underage Drinking Incident on Governor’s Property
Thursday, June 21, 2012
A teenage girl was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning following a Memorial Day party at the Exeter home of Governor Chafee, according to local radio station.
The party was thrown by Chafee’s son, Caleb. The report, which was obtained by the radio station but has not been released by State Police, indicates that the Governor and his wife, Stephanie, were not in attendance.
In the report filed by State Trooper Melissa Giardina, the highly intoxicated girl was being placed on a stretcher when she arrived at the scene at the intersection of Route 102 and Town Hall Road. The report indicates that the young woman was seen vomiting before leaving the Chafee home, but that Caleb encouraged the girl’s friends to call 911 after they left the party.
Asked why Caleb encouraged his friends to call 911 after they left his property, the friend said, “I imagine that he didn’t want to get in trouble and implicate his family.”
The friend indicated that between 10 and 15 young people, many of whom had graduated from Portsmouth Abbey the day before, attended the party and drank cans of Bud Light and raspberry vodka near the pool area of the Chafee’s home. An empty bottle of wine was also found at the home.
The girl became intoxicated at the party and Caleb asked the group to leave.
"[Name redacted] was getting really sick and throwing up and Caleb asked us to leave," the friend said. “He didn't want anybody to know that we were at his house. We called [name redacted]'s sister at approximately 6:20 pm. Due to [name redacted]'s condition, [name redacted] told us to call 911"
Later that night, the State Police arrived at the Chafee’s residence in Warwick, where they explained to the Governor and Mrs. Chafee that they were investigating an underage drinking incident at their Warwick home. Mrs. Chafee asked to record any conversation between an officer and Caleb. Family lawyer Peter DiBiase then encouraged Caleb to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights.
The incident wasn’t the first time the Governor’s son chose to plead the fifth following an alcohol-related offense. In April, police cited Caleb after he attempted to purchase beer from a liquor store in Jamestown. During that incident, Caleb also indicated that he was unwilling to talk.
Other than acknowledging that they were aware of the incident, the Governor’s office had not released a statement as of Wednesday evening.
Social Host Questions
The underage drinking incident at the Chafee came a year after former Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman was forced to resign following a party that got out of hand at his East Side home. During that incident, a GoLocalProv reporter viewed dozens of young people leaving the Esserman home after the Police Chief decided to break up the party.
Esserman resigned several weeks later and now serves as the Chief of Police in New Haven.
The difference, in Chafee’s case, is that reports indicate he and his wife were unaware the party was taking place. The state’s so-called Social Host law is vague about whether parents can be held liable for underage drinking incidents if they aren’t in attendance and don’t know about the party.
Under the Rhode Island version of that law, adults who allow underage drinking parties to be held in their homes can face criminal charges. In 2008, state lawmakers extended the reach of the law to make adults liable for underage drinking anywhere on their property, not just within the confines of a house.
Dan McGowan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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