In a deliciously ironic twist, Affluenza Boy’s maneuvering to avoid justice has landed him in a “sanctuary” that is far worse and may even last longer than any punishment he would have received in the US.
Two years ago, we expressed our outrage at the Ethan Couch case. You may remember it; a spoiled and wealthy 16-year-old driving drunk on a rural Texas road slaughtered four people and injured eleven more, some of them seriously and permanently. He had had previous run-ins with the law but his parents’ wealth always seemed to get him out of trouble. In court, his lawyers argued that he was a victim himself, of too much indulgence from his toxic parents. This was widely derided as the “affluenza defense.” To the outrage of pretty much everyone, he received probation and was ordered to rehab; but it was not too long before he was home again with the same toxic wealth and toxic parents, and everything that has happened since has only proven the inadequacy of the court’s sentence in this case.
Last month, to no one’s surprise, a Twitter posting seemed to show Affluenza Boy, now 18, partying and engaging in some rowdy drinking games, a violation of his probation. Due to the quirks of the juvenile justice system and Affluenza Boy’s current age, the worst case was that he might receive up to 120 days in an adult jail, and 10 more years of probation. So of course, rather than cooperate with the investigation and face the possible consequences of this possible violation, Affluenza Boy fled with his Toxic Mommy, which only made things exponentially worse. He missed a required probation hearing. His probation officer could not find him. What was only a possible violation based on a poor video became a hard case based on a documented, undeniable violation of probation conditions. A warrant was issued. Before the month was out, Toxic Mommy and Affluenza Boy were apprehended in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Again to no one’s surprise, Affluenza Boy quickly pulled some desperate legal maneuvers to avoid deportation back to the US, but in the first indications that karma may be kicking in, I don’t think it’s working out quite like he hoped. First off, Toxic Mommy has already been deported and is in custody in the US, leaving him alone in Mexico. Secondly, Affluenza Boy is now cozily ensconced at the Agujas Immigration Detention Center, where no amount of money is going to make things pleasant. Communal sleeping arrangements on the floor… hand-washing one’s own clothing in concrete basins… and if you can read Spanish and check out the article at the link, those are about the best features of the facility. The article describes a lack of translators, a lack of medical or psychological care, of abuses by the guards, of inadequate communication with consular officials. Affluenza Boy will likely do better than most in that place, thanks to his high media profile, his wealth, and his nationality, but there’s just no way to sugar-coat a place like that. I mean – even if someone visits him daily with fresh clothes and food, and bribes the guards, at the end of the day he’s still in a boring, stinking crap-hole with a few dozen other sweaty, irate men and probably not enough toilets. And how long will he be there? As CNN reports, his legal appeals in the Mexican system would require a trial and could take months. Months. Possibly. Hopefully.
Ironic, isn’t it? To avoid a maximum of 120 days in a US jail, Affluenza Boy has sat himself down for a nice stint in a far less pleasant detention facility someplace else, so that he can then spend some time in a US jail. Yes, I think he will end up in a US jail eventually. Even if he ages out of the juvenile system and gets no jail time for a stupid beer pong game, I’m thinking that fleeing the country while on probation, at the age of 18, will probably count for some kind of adult criminal charge… in addition to whatever else he’s done that only law enforcement knows at this point.
I’m looking forward to watching this case play out. It’s not schadenfreude; it’s karma.