Texas taxpayers on the hook for most of ‘affluenza’ teen’s mental health treatment

By Tom Boggioni
Monday, April 14, 2014 10:43 EDT
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Ethan Couch
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A Texas juvenile court official said on Friday that Texas taxpayers will be on the hook for the bulk of the cost to send Ethan Couch, the teen afflicted with ‘affluenza,’ to a private care mental health facility, according to KWTX.

Couch, who turned 17 on Friday, was sentenced to probation in December after pleading guilty to manslaughter charges in the deaths of four people killed while he was driving drunk.

At the time of his sentencing, the teen’s parents said they would pay for mental health treatment at a private facility in California, which costs about $35,000 a month.

State District Judge Jean Boyd, who granted probation outraging the country, instead chose to send Couch to a state mental hospital in Vernon, Texas, where the monthly tab for treatment is about $21,000.

Under the new arrangement, Couch’s parents will only be billed $1,170 per month.

Boyd sentenced Couch to 10 years’ probation in December after the he pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter. A  witness for the defense claimed the teen suffered from a condition called “affluenza,” described as a sense of irresponsibility brought about by being coddled by his wealthy parents.

Couch, who had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 percent,  was driving as fast as 70 miles per hour at the time of the crash, killing youth pastor Brian Jennings, 43, Breanna Mitchell, 24, Shelby Boyles, 21, and her mother, Hollie Boyles, 52.

In the trial, defense attorneys argued that Couch needed treatment, not incarceration.

Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni is based in the quaint seaside community of Pacific Beach in less quaint San Diego. He writes about politics, media, culture, and other annoyances. Mostly he spends his days at the beach gazing at the horizon waiting for the end of the world, or the sun to go down. Whichever comes first.
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