Indictments against a Falmouth couple accused of hosting an end of year party for high school students allege that six minors who were drinking there were under 18 and one of them was 15.

The significance of the age is that the law prohibiting adults from furnishing a place for minors to drink requires a mandatory $1,000 fine for each conviction.

That means Barry and Paula Spencer would face a combined $12,000 in mandatory fines if convicted, much higher than the typical fine imposed for a misdemeanor.

A Cumberland County grand jury indicted Barry Spencer, 53, and Paula Spencer, 52, on nine counts each of allowing a minor to possess or consume alcohol.

The indictments allege the Spencers allowed three 18-year-olds, four 17-year-olds, one 16 year-old and one 15-year-old to drink alcohol at a place under their control.

Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie has had the cases joined so they can be handled as a single prosecution.

The charges stem from a party on June 16 that rekindled the debate about the dangers of underage drinking and the role parents play when hosting parties.

The parents have said through their lawyers that the party started out as a relatively small gathering for perhaps 20 people then grew to almost 100 students, some of whom came from other towns.

Falmouth High School had won Class B state championships in baseball and lacrosse that Saturday — the day after school ended for the year — and members of those teams were among the teenagers who gathered, police said.

Police say 75 to 100 high school students were at the house at 35 Fieldstone Drive, and 35 to 40 cars.

The initial summons that police issued to the Spencers did not lead to a complaint by prosecutors, according to Walter McKee, Barry Spencer’s attorney. However, the case was presented to a grand jury.

Grand jury proceedings are secret and so it is unclear whether prosecutors compelled testimony from minors who were at the party in order to obtain more evidence to support charges.

Police say they initially got a tip about underage drinking at the party, but when they went to check at 10:30 p.m., they were told by Barry Spencer that there was no drinking.

An hour later, police stopped a car with teenage passengers who said they had been drinking at the Spencers’ home.

Four officers went to the home and found minors drinking and smoking marijuana, police said. They said they found one teenager passed out on a nearby lawn and vomit on one of the cars.

Police said no responsible homeowner could have been unaware of what was happening.

A 17-year-old girl was charged with administrative drunken driving, meaning her blood alcohol content was less than 0.08 percent, but because she is younger than 21 she is not allowed to drive with any alcohol in her system.

Two other teenagers were charged with possession of alcohol, and another was charged with possession of marijuana. Three were charged with possession of alcohol by consumption.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]The party on June 16 rekindled the debate about the dangers of underage drinking and the role parents play when hosting parties.