'Affluenza' Teen's Parents to Pay $1,170 Per Month For Treatment

Ethan Couch has been in a state run facility since Feb. 19

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    The son of Robert F. Kennedy has been charged with harassment and endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly clashing with two nurses who tried to stop him from taking his 2-day-old baby boy from a Westchester maternity unit. Douglas Kennedy and his wife called the charges "absurd" and said the nurses were in the wrong. Jonathan Dienst reports. This story was published Feb. 24, 2012 at 11:31 p.m. (Published Thursday, Apr 26, 2012)

    The family of a Tarrant County teenager who admitted to drunken driving and killing four people learned how much they will have to pay for his treatment on Friday. 

    Ethan Couch, 16, was sentenced to 10 years probation and treatment following his admitted guilt in the deadly crash near Burleson last June.
    During a short hearing before Judge Jean Boyd, it was revealed Couch is being treated a state run facility. However, that facility’s name was not identified during the court hearing. Couch has been there since Feb. 19, just a few weeks after it was confirmed he would go to a Texas facility and not a posh California treatment facility as had been suggested during the criminal trial.
    Debbie Spoonts, placement supervisor for Tarrant County Juvenile Services, testified during the hearing that treatment at the facility costs $715 a day. However, the facility recommends the Couch family pay $1,170 a month for Ethan’s treatment.
    During the hearing, Spoonts testified that the facility has a sliding scale of payment and this is what the facility determined the family will pay. Without any objection by Fred and Tanya Couch’s attorney, Lance Evans, or the assistant District Attorney Riley Shaw or Ethan Couch’s attorney Reagan Winn, Judge Boyd accepted the payment figure.
    During the trial Couch’s defense team indicated the family would to pay for the facility in California, costing $450,000 per year. 
    After the hearing, Shaw declined to comment on what had transpired in court, with Couch family attorney Evans making a single statement.
    “The family respects the decision of the facility and the court and will honor the payment system the court has put into place,” Evans said.
    Also in attendance during the hearing was Kevin McConnell and attorney Greg Coontz. The McConnell family is suing the Couch family for the injuries caused to their son Lucas in the crash. Coontz represents the family of Brian Jennings, who was killed in the crash.
    Coontz indicated that he, as a taxpayer, didn’t like to hear that the Couch family would pay just a fraction of the actual cost for Ethan’s treatment, but that since this is a public facility and not a private facility likely made a difference.
    “It’s our general understanding that this is a sliding and this is the amount the facility set,” Coontz said. “And that this is basically their maximum, no matter what, so that might need to be addressed elsewhere, but it’s probably nothing to do with anybody in this case.”
    McConnell said the decision Friday is completely separate from his family’s lawsuit and that it’s just another step in the process.
    How long Couch must stay in the facility or how long his parents must pay was not a subject of discussion during the hearing. Evans declined to answer that question afterward and Coontz did not know either.