Families of teens killed in DUI wreck file lawsuit against ‘affluenza’ teen
TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — The families of four teens who were killed in a drinking and driving crash have filed civil lawsuits against the 16-year-old Texas teenager who claimed he wasn’t responsible for the crash because his personal wealth made him unable to discern right from wrong.
Ethan Couch was sentenced to just treatment and 10 years probation for the deadly June crash. His defense attorney’s argued he suffered from “affluenza” — the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for him, KXAS-TV reported.
The judge’s sentence disappointed prosecutors and stunned victims’ family members, who say they feel that Couch got off too easy. Prosecutors had asked for the maximum of 20 years behind bars.
Lawyers for Couch, 16, had argued that the teen’s parents should share part of the blame for the crash because they never set limits for the boy and gave him everything he wanted.
According to WFAA, a psychologist called by the defense described Couch as a product of “affluenza.”
He reportedly testified that the teen’s family felt wealth bought privilege, and that Couch’s life could be turned around with one to two years of treatment and no contact with his parents.
Couch was sentenced by a juvenile court judge Tuesday. If he violates the terms of his probation, he could face up to 10 years of incarceration, according to a statement from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.
Judge Jean Boyd told the court she would not release Couch to his parents, but would work to find the teen a long-term treatment facility.
“There are absolutely no consequences for what occurred that day,” said Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter. “The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege can’t buy justice in this country.”