Fred Couch, the millionaire Cleburne Sheet Metal business owner and father of Ethan Couch, opened up for the first time today since his son’s capture in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Monday.
ABC News reports that Fred Couch has been working with authorities since his son’s disappearance from Burleson, Texas, earlier this month. Today, he made an official statement via his attorneys confirming his cooperation in his son’s case.
“Fred Couch has been cooperating with officials from the Tarrant County District Attorneys Office and the U.S. Marshals Service in their search for Ethan. He is very appreciative of efforts by these and other agencies to safely locate his son. Because of Ethan’s pending legal issues, Mr. Couch will have no additional comment at this time.”
Authorities indicated earlier this month that there is no evidence to suggest that Fred Couch assisted his son or former wife in any way to escape the country. Tarrant County officials state that the father has been cooperative in assisting authorities, although Sheriff Dee Anderson said on Tuesday that the possibility of the dad helping out his family isn’t completely ruled out.
“I will say that, to this point, we haven’t uncovered any information that the father is involved. That’s all I can say about that. We certainly haven’t ruled it out. But at the same time all the work that we’ve done we’ve not seen any indication that he was involved in this to this point.”
Fred Couch’s cooperation is in complete contrast from just two and half years ago, when the defensive father praised his son. Fred Couch admitted during a 2013 deposition that he allowed his minor son to get away with things that most teenagers have never dreamed about. For instance, Fred Couch revealed that he allowed his teenager to live alone in an upscale Burleson, Texas, home, and permitted him to drive alone to school at just 13-years-old. When questioned why he gave his son so much freedom, Fred said that “[Ethan] seemed pretty responsible.”
When school officials called Ethan Couch’s parents after he was caught driving a car to school illegally, Fred Couch reportedly told the school’s administration that he would buy the entire school district off. He eventually withdrew his son from the school.
Fred Couch has his own past brushes with the law. His charges include two incidents of theft, speeding, and assault against his former wife, Tonya Couch. Yet, similar to his son, the sheet metal manufacturing business owner has never done more than community service for one charge, while the theft charges were thrown out after he paid substantial fines.
Since 1989, Fred Couch has racked up more than 22 infractions with the law, which include 18 traffic violations and four criminal misdemeanor accusations. In 1992, Fred was pulled over for suspected DUI in Texas, when he told the police officer, “I make more in a day than you make in a year.” During his deposition for his son’s civil case, Fred Couch readily admitted that he more than likely said that to the officer.
A psychiatrist testified that that it’s Fred Couch’s own actions, as well as Ethan’s mother Tonya Couch’s actions (she’s had several run-ins with the law herself, including running a motorist off of the road) that helped shape the 18-year-old into what he is today. Yet, despite the notion that Ethan Couch suffers from “affluenza,” most people argue that the teen knows right from wrong and should have been given a much harsher sentence in 2013, when he received a 10-year-probation sentence for killing four people and injuring others during a drunk driving incident.
Ethan and his mother fled the country earlier this month, after a leaked video showed the teen allegedly playing beer pong with other teens. Drinking alcohol is a direct violation of his probation, and authorities believe he fled to evade arrest.
Tonya Couch and Ethan Couch remain in Mexico. They were granted a temporary stay after they filed a writ of amparo yesterday.
[Photo by LM Otero/AP Images]