Sayville couple charged in teen alcohol poisoning
A Sayville couple was arrested Sunday after a 16-year-old girl became ill with alcohol poisoning during a party at their home, Suffolk County police said.
Police said they received a 911 call at 1:33 a.m. Sunday reporting that the girl had become sick with alcohol poisoning at the residence at 81 Old Broadway.
When police arrived, they said, they found more than two dozen teenagers -- some visibly intoxicated -- in an apartment separate from the main house.
Witnesses said large amounts of vodka had been consumed, and officers also saw shot glasses and evidence of a game of beer pong, police said.
Other teenagers who didn't know the residents also were at the party, police said.
John and Stacie Butler were arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Police said both were released after posting bail.
Police said the hospitalized girl is not the couple's daughter.
At the Butlers' home Sunday, nobody came to the door.
Suffolk County's social-host law -- which targets adults who allow minors to drink at their homes -- did not apply to this arrest because officers did not witness drinking, a police spokeswoman said.
A first-time offense under that law is a violation, which is not a crime.
Endangering the welfare of a child -- the charge against the Butlers -- is a misdemeanor, a more serious charge and criminal in nature.
Jeffrey Reynolds -- executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, a nonprofit group geared to reducing alcohol and drug abuse -- said "arrests under Suffolk's social-host law do seem to be an anomaly and are infrequent," possibly owing to constitutional issues that can arise regarding private property.
"Too many parents believe that underage drinking is 'safer' when done in a finished basement or family backyard, yet that notion flies in the face of everything we know about potential health and safety consequences associated with minors consuming alcohol," Reynolds said.
"The social host law was passed by the legislature to send a clear message to parents that underage drinking is not OK, yet without enforcement, the law is meaningless," Reynolds said.