MADD won't accept donation in social host deal

Jayne Donegan

Mothers Against Drunk Driving says it won't accept a court-ordered contribution from a North Kingstown woman accused of having an underage drinking party at her home.

Gabby Abbate, executive director of Rhode Island MADD, said Tuesday that she learned through the media that a judge dropped a social host charge against Jayne Donegan.

Abbate said she was shocked to learn the judge ordered Donegan to make a $5,000 contribution to MADD as part of the deal.

"I did have to have a discussion today with my national office, and we have agreed whole heartedly that we will not accept the donation," Abbate said "Could we use the donation to help perpetuate some education? Yes. But this is just going to send out the wrong message. It's not going to change some other parents view or the culture."

Donegan was accused of letting minors drink in her home during her daughter's birthday party. In a meeting with a judge, both the prosecution and the defense decided there was no evidence to support the charge, which is why it was dropped.

"It seemed pretty clear that this party had been crashed by others uninvited and it just got out of hand," said Terrence Simpson, the North Kingstown town solicitor. "It's just a question of not paying enough attention to what was going on under her roof."

Many wonder if Donegan won't be charged, why the contribution?

"From what I understand, she makes contributions in any event," Simpson said. "You know justice is not always free in a sense that it doesn't happen automatically."

While MADD does accept court-mandated fines, Abbate said this does not sound like a punishment.

"We do accept contributions, but not in lieu or in any kind of relationship with a sanction. Never," she said.

Donegan's attorney, William Devereaux, responded in a statement.

"Let us be clear that Ms. Donegan did not receive any preferential treatment ... There was simply no evidence The judge mandated the $5,000 contribution to go to MADD. That it has chosen not to accept the donation is entirely up to them," Devereaux said.

Simpson said the parties will have to talk with the judge about finding another organization for the contribution.