‘Affluenza’ Teen Escapes Jail For Second Time On New Assault Charges
Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old who escaped jail time after driving drunk and killing four people due to an “affluenza” diagnosis, has escaped jail once again. The Texas teenager pleaded guilty this week to two intoxication assault counts against him stemming from the crash last June, which could have resulted in him being sent to juvenile hall for three years. However, Judge Jean Boyd further angered the victims‘ families by refusing to send him to prison.
Boyd ordered that Couch attend a lock-down treatment facility for an unspecified amount of time and that his parents pay the bill. His current 10-year probation still stands, which forbids Couch from driving or using drugs and alcohol. If he violates the terms of his probation, he could face 10 years behind bars. Couch has currently been residing in a luxury residential treatment facility in Newport Beach, CA, with his father footing the annual $450,000 tab.
Couch’s blood alcohol level was triple the legal limit at the time of the crash and he was also under the influence of prescription drugs. The affluenza diagnosis given by doctors for Couch’s defense in the trial last November claimed that the teenager never had to serve any real time because his affluent upbringing caused him to be unable to distinguish right from wrong. “He never learned to say that you’re sorry if you hurt someone,” said Dr. Gary Miller. “If you hurt someone, you sent him money.” Miller also said the teen had an “intellectual age” of 18, but an “emotional age” of 12.
One of the two people still alive after the incident, 16-year-old Sergio Molas, is now completely paralyzed and requires 24-hour care. Molas is “minimally conscious” and can only communicate with his family by blinking. Doctors have told his parents that they should not expect any improvements beyond his current condition. They have since sued Couch’s family and his father’s business for $20 million in damages.
A petition has circulated online calling for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to remove Boyd from her position over the rulings related to this case.