WARWICK—Jayne Donegan, who originally pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from a Jan. 25 underage drinking incident at her home, came to an agreement on Tuesday with the North Kingstown Police Department to drop a number of charges, including allegedly assaulting a police officer.
The 51-year-old attorney appeared before Third District Court Justice Frank J. Cenerini, entering a not guilty plea and agreeing to make a $5,000 contribution to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
The not guilty filing plea to obstructing an officer in the execution of duty will remain on Donegan’s record for one year. Charges of simple assault and procuring/being aware of the consumption of alcohol by underage persons at her residence will be dismissed.
Police Chief Thomas Mulligan said Tuesday that he thought the plea was significant, and that had Donegan proceeded with the case, was assured that more of the charges involving her alleged conduct on Jan. 25, when a number of East Greenwich minors were found to be partying and drinking on her property at 251 Wilbert Way in North Kingstown, would have been proven true in the eyes of the law.
“The $5,000 to MADD, to me, is a significant contribution,” said Mulligan. “That will help them and their programs and awareness camps with respect to social host, or whatever they decide to use it for.”
“[The not-guilty filing] is not uncommon as you’re talking about a person who has no criminal record,” he continued. “That not-guilty filing would be done for anybody, not necessarily just because the individual is an attorney.”
Donegan’s attorney, William Devereaux, defended Donegan’s actions on the evening of Jan. 25.
“As my client has stated from day one, and as the disposition of this case corroborates, Jayne Donegan never procured alcohol for any teenagers nor did she knowingly allow any underage person to consume alcohol in her home that night,” said William Devereaux, Donegan’s attorney. “There was no evidence found to the contrary, [and Donegan] told the truth about the events of that evening, which were caused by uninvited teenagers sneaking into the basement of her home with alcohol, even though she had given explicit instructions that alcohol was not to be brought into her home.”
“Ms. Donegan is relieved that this case is behind her, as are her very supportive family, friends and colleagues” he continued. “[She] will gladly contribute to a charity like MADD for the work it does to help others.”
Mulligan on Tuesday refuted Devereaux’s claims, however, that NKPD was prosecuting Donegan for procuring alcohol for underage persons.
“To my knowledge, that was never said,” he said. “What we were charging with was [permitting] the consumption of alcohol on her residence. That never says anything about procuring the alcohol.”
On Wednesday, MADD also stated that it would not accept the $5,000 contribution from Donegan, saying it would send the ‘wrong message.’ about providing alcohol to minors.
“We don’t want to take money, in exchange for charges being reduced and people not being held accountable for their actions,” said Gabrielle Abbate, executive director of MADD in a statement. “The law needs to be enforced to the full extent. As much as we’d like to use the money to educate parents about the dangers of underage drinking, it’s not right for us to accept money under these conditions.
“The law should apply to everyone regardless of financial status,” she continued. “We’ll never change the culture around how parents view providing alcohol to teens if we support these kinds of sentences.”
According to the original police report, NKPD officers responded on Jan. 25 to Donegan’s household and reportedly witnessed over 100 15 to 17-year-olds drinking on her property and that the 51 year-old was uncooperative with responding officers, resisting arrest. Donegan had allegedly thrown the party for her daughter’s 16th birthday.
Officers also reportedly found a number of intoxicated teens who had to be transported to the hospital. After arraignment in Third District Court in March, Donegan requested that the Rhode Island State Police investigate the conduct of NKPD’s arresting officers, an appeal which was denied by the state police.