The Rhode Island attorney general’s office said Thursday it is deciding whether to bring criminal charges after an 18-year-old woman was hospitalized last month following a party hosted by the son of Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
The state police investigated and sought to speak with Chafee’s son Caleb after the Memorial Day party in Exeter. Caleb Chafee, 18, is a recent graduate of Portsmouth Abbey School, a Catholic Benedictine high school.
The state police had not brought charges as of Thursday, said Amy Kempe, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “Our office will review and work with the Rhode Island state police to determine what if any charges are brought,” Kempe said.
The police investigation was first reported Wednesday by radio station WPRO. A police report, which had not been released by the police, was posted on the radio station’s website. It said Caleb Chafee asked the woman to leave after she became ill. She was treated for alcohol poisoning at Kent Hospital in Warwick, the report said.
The property where the party took place is owned by Wee Hoose Farm LLC, according to the Exeter assessors’ office. Chafee’s wife, Stephanie, is listed on state records as the manager of the limited liability company.
“It’s a private matter, and we’re handling it in a private manner. I’m well aware of the incident, and the police are doing their investigation,” Chafee told NBC 10 News on Wednesday night.
The governor said he was not at the Exeter property when the party took place, and state police superintendent Col. Steven G. O’Donnell said the governor is not part of the investigation.
“I will say as this unfolded the integrity of the Rhode Island State Police was paramount to me,” the governor said.
NBC 10 legal analyst Mark Dana said the governor is probably not liable under the state’s social host law if he didn’t know about the party.
“If they’re not in the house, they didn’t know that alcohol was going to be there, they didn’t know that people were bringing in alcohol, then they cannot be held liable for something they don’t know about,” Dana said.
Dana also said if the governor’s son didn’t procure alcohol for the teens at his party, he also probably is clear of legal issues in regards to the party.
Caleb Chafee declined to speak with investigators at the Chafee home in Warwick at the instruction of his lawyer, O’Donnell said. Attorney Peter A. DiBiase did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press on Thursday.
Caleb Chafee pleaded no contest last month to accusations that he tried to buy beer at a Jamestown liquor store in April. A judge fined him $100. The fine has been paid. A judge expunged the case from his record, DiBiase said.
O’Donnell said the police report posted on WPRO’s website is accurate, but an internal investigation has been launched to determine how the report became public. He said the report is not a public record because no criminal charges have been filed.
“If the matter is truly still under investigation, that is, the state police are still conducting interviews, they’re still trying to find out what happened, then that is an exception to the disclosure,” Dana said. “They are not required until the investigation is complete to turn that over to you.”
The police report said Caleb Chafee asked the woman and her friends to leave after she started vomiting. It also said Caleb Chafee “told us to call 911 only after we were off his property.”
A female classmate who attended the party told the state police she drank Bud Light and raspberry-flavored vodka. She said she didn’t know who provided the alcohol. The classmate told police the woman who fell ill was throwing up into buckets and trash cans and was carried to a car because she couldn’t walk, the report said.
The sickened woman was removed from the front passenger seat of a car by rescuers at the intersection of Route 102 and Town Hall Road in Exeter after the classmate called 911, the report said. The classmate also told investigators she waited to call 911 until after leaving the Chafee property.
The classmate received a call from Caleb Chafee who told her his attorney was on his way to her home and instructed her to “plead the fifth,” the report said. The report said the classmate told the younger Chafee that his attorney was not welcome and that she planned to speak with authorities.