Last year, the saga of Ethan Couch came to light when angry people all over the world blasted a judge who said the 17-year-old suffered from “affluenza” and only sentenced him to probation in the drunk driving incident that left four people dead. Now, a judge has only required Couch’s parents to pay for a small fraction of his monthly rehabilitation bill, leaving the rest to taxpayers.
On June 15, 2013, 16-year-old Ethan Couch got drunk and crashed his car into a group of pedestrians, killing four and injuring two. During the trial, Couch’s attorneys argued that the boy suffered from “affluenza,” meaning that coming from wealthy parents made him feel entitled and therefore make bad decisions. The attorneys argued that Couch needed rehabilitation, not jail, and in the end, the judge agreed.
Dr. Dick Miller, the psychologist who first used the term “affluenza” while in court, defended his stance during the trial.
“He pled guilty. He said ‘I did it’” said Miller. “[He said] ‘I was there, I was in the truck, I was driving and we ran over four people.’ My responsibility is to say what is best for this child. What’s best for this 16-year-old boy? And that’s what I told the judge. I used my 30 years of experience to say among the choices, with the kinds of resources that we had, what’s the best treatment for this kid? I don’t believe going to the penitentiary was best for him.”
Now, a judge says that Couch’s parents will only have to pay $1,170 a month towards the boy’s rehabilitation, despite the fact that the services cost $715 a day. The rest of the money, shockingly, will come from the taxpayers’ pockets.
"The family respects the decision of the facility and the court, and will honor the payment system the court has put in place," said Lance Evans, attorney for Fred and Tonya Couch.
So far, most of the victims’ families have settled or are in the process of settling with Ethan Couch’s parents, but the family of Lucas McConnell, who was killed at just 13 years old, says they refuse to settle their lawsuit against the Couch family.
"It's just another step in a long journey,” said Kevin McConnell to WFAA. “We plan to be there for all the steps."
For now, Ethan Couch remains on probation and will spend, reportedly, at least six months in a rehab facility while the American taxpayers, including family members of the victims, will foot most of the bill.