North Kingstown woman pleads not guilty to social host charges

Jayne Donegan

A woman accused of violating Rhode Island's social host law pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Jayne Donegan was arraigned in Kent County District Court and released on personal recognizance.

Donegan is accused of allowing underage people to drink at her North Kingstown home during her daughter's 16th birthday party last month.

Police got a call about the party and responded to her home. Some teenagers in the driveway told officers there were underage people drinking inside the house.

Donegan is accused of assaulting an officer who came to her door.

"As police attempted to enter the door, she slammed the door on them. Police asked the defendant to help look for these juveniles that possibly were drinking either in the basement or outside, she declined. They asked where her 16-year-old daughter was, she refused to answer that question," North Kingstown Detective Sgt. Jeff St. Onge said.

Donegan's attorney, William Devereaux, said it was the officer who burst in and shoved her.

"She did not open the door wide. The officer then pushed his way in and pushed her across the foyer. I haven't seen a witness statement yet that says that Jayne Donegan permitted alcohol to be served in her home or that she allowed it and saw it openly," Devereaux said.

Devereaux said a lot of older kids who weren't invited showed up to the party and as soon as she became aware of the drinking she was about to address it, which was the same time the police showed up.

Devereaux said he has asked the Rhode Island State Police to conduct an independent investigation into the actions of the arresting officer. The North Kingstown police chief said his officer acted appropriately under the circumstances and that he "welcomes" an independent probe.

Donegan is due back in court Feb. 25.