Mille Lacs Co Attorney: "I had no knowledge of any minors consuming alcohol on my property"
Jude says she told her daughter "no alcohol would be tolerated."
Mille Lacs County Attorney Jan Jude maintains she didn't know minors were drinking on her property at her daughter's May 26 graduation party, contradicting accounts featured in a story published by the Mille Lacs Messenger over the weekend.
The Messenger article includes interviews with teenagers who were in attendance that night, saying Jude knew about the party. Ally Mrozik, 17, tells the paper she heard Jude's daughter Megan say adults at the house -- including Jude and her husband, a police investigator -- "were fine as long as no one drinks and drives."
After attending the party, 17-year-old Bailey Hamilton was hospitalized with a .21 BAC, according to his mother, Kim Hamilton. Bailey was unresponsive in the hospital for six to seven hours before he finally woke up. Kim says she was "in shock" after being told her son had been drinking on the county attorney's property.
The Anoka County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident.
Asked for comment last week, Jude sent us a statement saying she didn't know anything about minors drinking on her property until it was reported. "It is my hope that this investigation will reveal all of the facts about what actually occurred and, perhaps more importantly, who provided alcohol to any minors who consumed alcohol on that date," wrote Jude.
We called Jude this morning for response to the Messenger story, and she's sticking to her original comments.
"While I would very much like to address the latest interviews, I would simply state that my previous statement is all I will respond with," says Jude in an email. "I had no knowledge of any minors consuming alcohol on my property and would not have tolerated it."
Asked if she knew her daughter was having a party, Jude replied, "I knew of a small bonfire with my daughter's closest friends, and they were told that no alcohol would be tolerated."
With the investigation pending, she couldn't offer further comment.
Here are some excerpts from the Messenger story:
Mrozik said several other kids were present when Jude's daughter Megan, 18, told them that the adults at the house -- including the Judes and off-duty officers -- "were fine as long as no one drinks and drives."
This occurred toward the beginning of the party, before she became intoxicated, Mrozik said.
"I will put my hand on a Bible," she said. "I remember specifically hearing this."
According to the boy, trucks and ATVs were driving back and forth from the bonfire down a trail through the woods, and cars were coming and going from the property -- some driven by kids who had been drinking.
"I don't see how she could not know," the boy said. This was the second party with underage drinking the boy had attended on the property, and he had heard of other parties there as well.
The Messenger ran another story over the weekend about Charles Skogman, the young fellow who had the good sense to drive an unresponsive Bailey home and wake up his parents, possibly saving the kid's life. Skogman says he saw Bailey take down the majority of a half-full bottle of vodka while others cheered him on:
At one point other kids were encouraging him to drink. "I don't know who it was, but somebody was like 'Chug! Chug! Chug!' Then Bailey took a couple big swigs."
As Bluestem Prairie points out (via the Messenger archives), Jude has been on the other side of similar allegations. In 2010, Jude's office prosecuted a woman named Cheryl Miller, the manager of a local liquor store, after minors were found drinking at Miller's daughter's graduation party. Witnesses testified that Miller didn't know about the underage drinking, and since Mille Lacs County doesn't have a social host ordinance, a jury found Miller not guilty.
After the case, Jude released a statement warning parents to look out for underage drinking at grad parties.
"Whether there was an acquittal or a conviction," wrote Jude, "the case presents a good reminder during this graduation season that we all have to be mindful of underage drinking and take whatever precautions we can."
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