Barrington Police Chief John LaCross said he attended a “Memorial Day cookout” hosted by a friend at the governor’s Exeter estate – he was not near an alleged party hosted by Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s teenage son that led to a young woman, 18, being hospitalized for alcohol poisoning.
LaCross said he wants to clarify a previous Patch story, which cited other media sources, that he believes implies he was at an alleged underage drinking party on the governor's property.
“We got invited to an adult cookout on Memorial Day,” LaCross said, at a house rented by his friend, Steven Hourahan, an adviser to the governor. “We arrived late (about 5 pm). We were shown around and got to the pool area where we were told Caleb (the governor’s son) was coming over with a few friends to take a swim.”
“He was introduced to everyone,” LaCross said of the governor’s son. “We were with him no more than 10 to 15 minutes. As we were walking to our cars to drive to the house – about 1,000-feet away, four or five other kids showed up.”
“As a police officer,” LaCross said, “I looked for alcohol. I saw no one carrying alcohol or drinking, no one with a Solo cup, and no one appeared to be intoxicated.”
LaCross said he and his wife then went to the house for the cookout with six other adults.
“I never went back to the pool area,” LaCross said, which could be seen from the house although it was shielded by a few trees.
It was several hours later that Hourahan was called about the woman getting sick on Route 102, LaCross said.
The police chief also said he is disappointed that most of the teens at the party pleaded their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when State Police investigators tried to interview them about the young woman. What message is being sent to them? he said.
LaCross has been an active member of The BAY Team – Barrington’s substance abuse prevention coalition -- for years. He speaks frequently to teens in an effort to curb underage drinking. He was outspoken about the need for the Town Council to set conditions on identity checks for liquor stores wanting to open in Barrington.