Updated: Teens Found Drinking; Former School Official Charged

Update, Feb. 21, 9:19 a.m.: The former president of the Sag Harbor School Board, who has been accused of allowing teens to drink alcohol at her North Haven house, should never have been charged, her attorney, Daniel G. Rodgers of Southampton, said Sunday.

Susan E. Guinchard Kinsella, 54, was arrested by Southampton Town police on Friday after a three-week investigation into a party held by her daughter at their Barclay Drive residence on Jan. 27. According to police, they could see youths inside the house consuming beverages when they arrived that night, but Ms. Guinchard Kinsella did not allow them to enter it.

Police reported that they stayed in the area and interviewed teens as they exited the house. The arrest occurred after a follow-up investigation. Ms. Guinchard Kinsella was charged with a misdemeanor under the Suffolk County Social Host Law, which prohibits any adult who "controls a private residence to knowingly allow the consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages by any minor."

Mr. Rodgers said the word "knowingly" was key to a misdemeanor charge. "To establish or suggest a violation of the Social Host law," he said, "they have to prove that the defendant had knowledge" that alcohol was being consumed. "This came as a complete shock to her."

"This is a woman who cares deeply about young people," he said, noting that his client also is a former head of the Sag Harbor PTA. "Her service to her community ends up being a negative, rather than a plus," he said, asking whether her status in the area influenced the charge.

She is due to be arraigned in Southampton Town Justice Court on March 10.

Originally, Feb. 18, 12:42 p.m.: Police, tipped off by an anonymous call about a party at which teens allegedly were drinking alcohol, have charged Susan E. Guinchard Kinsella with violating the Suffolk County Social Host Law, which holds adults accountable if they knowingly allow underage drinking.

According to Southampton Town police, on Jan. 27, when they arrived at the residence on Barclay Drive to which state police had referred them, they saw teens consuming alcoholic beverages "within the residence." When Ms. Guinchard Kinsella came to the door, "she denied there was a party, and subsequently locked the police out of the residence," the police report says. Officers, however, stayed in the area to investigate.

The investigation took several weeks. She was arrested at her home on Friday. She was issued an appearance ticket, and will be arraigned March 10 at Southampton Town Justice Court, Sgt. Carl Schottenhamel said Saturday.

Ms. Guinchard Kinsella is the former president of the Sag Harbor School Board. She did not respond to a message requesting comment.

Barclay Drive is in a gated community known as West Banks. The call to state police came in on an anonymous tip line, 866-UNDER21, set up to encourage reporting of events at which minors are thought to be consuming drugs and alcohol.

The tip about drinking at the Barclay Drive residence was received two days before a party at a Neck Path house in Springs where an 18- year-old former East Hampton High School student, Jordan Johnson, overdosed. He survived but is paralyzed and undergoing rehabilitation in Manhattan.

Capt. Chris Anderson of the East Hampton Town Police Department has said an active investigation is underway to determine what happened that night, while at the same time East Hampton parents have met to explore solutions.