The family of a teen who used an affluenza defense to escape jail time after killing four people in a car crash is getting a big discount on the boy’s rehab fees.
Ethan Couch, 17, killed four people last year when his vehicle ran into a crowd of people trying to help the driver of a disabled car near Fort Worth, Texas. Police found that Crouch was drunk and had traces of Valium in his system.
The teen drew national attention when his defense argued that having wealthy parent gave him a sense of irresponsibility, which a defense expert called “affluenza.” State District Judge Jean Boyd sparked a controversy by accepting the defense, and sentencing the affluenza teen to just 10 years’ probation rather than prison time.
The teen’s family originally offered to send their son to a rehab center near Newport Beach, California, that costs $450,000 a year. But Boyd rejected the deal, meaning the parents of the affluenza teen will pay just $1,170 a month for treatment at the North Texas State Hospital.
The teen’s parents are paying just a small fraction of the true cost, as the rehab clinic’s costs are $715 per day.
Greg Coontz, the civil attorney for relatives of one of the people killed in the crash, said the Couch family is paying the maximum amount allowable on the state’s sliding scale, but hopes the state will change that in the future.
“As a taxpayer, I probably feel exactly like you do,” Coontz said. “It seems like maybe that ought to be a little different and should be addressed if there’s the ability to pay. Most time, I don’t know that there is. Clearly, sometimes that ability is there.”
The family of the affluenza teen still has more court problems ahead. Several of the victims’ families are suing the Couch family, with several reaching settlements but at least one vowing to hold out for a jury.