Rich Teen Avoids Jail After Killing 4 in Drunk Driving Accident Because He Has 'Affluenza'

Ethan Couch
Ethan Couch
Off the top of your head, what do you think is a suitable punishment for someone who killed four people and critically injured two because he was driving (read: speeding) drunk and high and Valium? I'm guessing you'd dole out a severe punishment; something that would keep him off the streets for a long time. And even after you found out the driver was only 16 years old, your repercussions probably wouldn't change, right? Especially when you heard the details of the story: Drunk driver slams into broken-down car on the side of the road, killing the owner of the stranded vehicle, along with three Good Samaritans who were trying to help -- a mother; her daughter; and a youth pastor.

It's a sickening story. And also a frustrating one. See, Ethan Couch, the kid who did this, isn't going to prison. His defense team spared him jail time, because he's just a poor rich kid who was never taught "right from wrong." His lawyers actually said that he suffered from "affluenza."


Couch's team has managed to convince a judge that this is more Ethan's parents' fault than his since they simply gave him everything him wanted, and that jail won't do the boy any good. The team claims Couch needs counseling -- at a posh $500,000 a year Southern California center. And while counseling or therapy would benefit some people more than jail time, this isn't one of those cases. Throw this kid in jail. That'll teach him right from wrong real quick.

From the sound of things, Ethan is, to put it bluntly, a brat. He's never had to pay for what he did. He's simply gone on, living life recklessly with zero consequences. And this, yet again, is another one of those instances. He was supposed to be sentenced to 20 years in jail, and he's managed to get off on 10 years probation instead. Yes, he probably does need counseling; and yes, his parents ought to take some of the responsibility for what he did, but ... really? Could there possibly be any more of a double standard here? What person without money could ever get off this easy after committing a god-awful crime like this? Couch was going 70 mph on a 40 mph rural road, and had a blood alcohol content of .24 -- more than triple the legal limit! And he's not even 21!

The families of Couch's victims are, understandably, outraged by the ruling. "Money always seems to keep [Couch] out of trouble," Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter, said. "Ultimately today, I felt that money did prevail. If [he] had been any other youth, I feel like the circumstances would have been different." Indeed they would have. Affluenza? Are the lawyers joking? If this is a real defense, what "disease" to poor or sexually abused people suffer from that will get them out of jail?

If you ask me, Ethan won't have learned a thing by the time this ordeal is behind him. He's lived his life under the assumption that money can solve any problem life may throw at him. And you know what? He's right.

What do you think of this?


Image via ABC

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