'Affluenza' Teen's Parents Can't Recall Disciplining Their Son

By McCarton Ackerman 10/20/15

Ethan Couch admitted that he was abusing drugs and alcohol well before killing four people.

Ethan Couch
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Newly released deposition tapes of infamous “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch revealed that he had been living an alcohol- and drug-fueled life well before his DWI car crash in June 2013 that killed four people.

The tapes, obtained by ABC News, were filmed shortly before his family settled with the family of one of the victims, Lucas McConnell. Couch admitted in the tapes that he was alone at home for extended periods of time with alcohol and drugs in the house. He also admitted to experimenting with “Valium, Hydrocodone, marijuana, cocaine, Xanax and I think I tried ecstasy once.”

His parents, Tonya and Fred, also admitted to allowing him to drive at age 13. Tonya also revealed that she couldn’t remember the last time she had disciplined her son. However, both said they were unaware he was using drugs and alcohol, with Fred commenting that Ethan “seemed pretty responsible.”

This lack of parenting was the argument used by the family to help Ethan evade a potential 20-year jail sentence. A psychologist on the defense said that the teenager suffered from affluenza and didn’t have an understanding of the consequences of his actions because his parents never set rules.

“He never learned to say that you’re sorry if you hurt someone,” said Dr. Gary Miller. “If you hurt someone, you sent him money.” Miller also said the teen had an “intellectual age” of 18, but an “emotional age” of 12.

Shockingly, the defense worked. Judge Jean Boyd spared Ethan jail time, and instead sentenced him to 10 years of probation and mandatory rehab at a lock-down treatment facility. He was also banned from driving and using alcohol or drugs. If he violates the terms of these conditions, he could face 10 years behind bars.

Ethan is currently residing in a luxury residential treatment facility in Newport Beach, Calif., with his father footing the annual $450,000 tab.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.