Friday, February 10, 2006

Mother Charged With Giving Alcohol To Children

A Hampton mother has been accused of serving her middle school-age daughter and three other children alcohol during a sleepover.

Police said that the kids involved are young -- 12 and 13 years old -- and that one of their parents, Pamela Smith, served them alcohol at a sleepover party on Dec. 23.

Smith told News 9 that the children were celebrating the holidays with a sleepover at her house.

"All I did was let the kids have one toast, and the girl brought the pictures to school, and I shouldn't have done that," Smith said.

Smith was charged with providing alcohol to minors. Police said numerous pictures were taken on a digital camera that night, and a teacher at Hampton Academy discovered the camera in her classroom. The teacher informed school officials, who reported it to police.

"And in an attempt to identify the owner of the camera she looked through the pictures and found these pictures of several students she recognized imbibing alcoholic beverages," Capt. Rich Sawyer said.

Sawyer said the four girls in the pictures were drinking wine coolers and sparkling cider.

"There's often a misperception amongst people that it's OK for people to provide alcohol to their own child or friends or family as long as they're safe in the confines of their own home," Sawyer said. "And there's no legal provision for that. It's an illegal act. It shouldn't be done, and it will be pursued."

If convicted, Smith could face up to a year in jail and a $1,500 fine. The children won't be charged.

"We could take them into the juvenile court system, but really, we felt the culpable person in this was the adult who actually went out and purchased the alcohol for the purpose of providing it to the juveniles," Sawyer said.

School officials said that they have no comment on what they described as a police matter.



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