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Bethesda Parents Allowed Underage Drinking

4:42 PM, Jul 12, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Only on 9 tonight, police are witnessing a disturbing trend in Montgomery County; Parents allowing their teenage son and his underage friends to drink alcohol in their homes.

In a Rockville courtroom today, one local couple faced the consequences.

As Andrea McCarren reports, the father who allegedly broke the law is a partner at a prominent DC law firm. 

Jennifer and James Kress had nothing to say about allowing teenagers to party in the basement of their Bethesda home on the night of March 23rd.

Officer Jeremy Smalley with Montgomery County Police said he walked to the door and saw the dad standing at the door and asked, "Do you know these kids were drinking? He said, yeah, yeah, I know they were drinking downstairs. I'm like, "Are any of them over 21? And he said, no, none of them are 21."

Officers witnessed two boys urinating in the street outside the $1.2 million home and a 3rd onto a car. Police moved in when the intoxicated teenagers loaded into a car and one got behind the wheel.

Officer Smalley said, "You know they were getting ready to drive away? He's like no, I told them not to leave.  I said well there's five of them in the car. Everyone in that car had been drinking that night. So who knows what would have happened if I hadn't stopped them from driving down the road?"

Police issued alcohol citations to 17 teenagers, including the Kress' 16 year-old son. Alcohol was obvious in the home, including a setup for beer pong.

"The kids were saying this was a bunch of crap, they weren't doing anything wrong, they were arguing with me, they didn't want to cooperate with me," said Officer Smalley.

Officers say some of the children were laughing, along with Jennifer Kress.

"Some of the kids were laughing, giggling. The one parent was laughing with them and was telling people not to come back to the house cause the police were there," said Officer Smalley.

Breathalyzers revealed half of the teenagers had blood alcohol levels at or above the legal limit for intoxication.

Officer Bill Morrison said, "I think what's happening is that parents think that they're doing the right thing, and they're trying to do the right thing by saying I want my child to be popular, they're going to take the keys away.  But that's not working. We actually find out that kids drink more when their parents are at home and hosting these parties."

James Kress is a partner in DC law firm Baker Botts. He reached an agreement with the court to make a donation to a local group working to prevent underage drinking. His wife Jennifer pleaded guilty in court and was sentenced to unsupervised probation and a one thousand dollar fine. 

The law allows parents to let their own kids drink alcohol, only in their home, but does not permit them to let other kids drink. 


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