- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO. (AP) - A mother and another woman face felony child-endangerment charges after a 14-year-old’s birthday party that ended with two young teens being taken to a hospital. Karen Christine Downs, 43, of Kansas City, and Kelsee Guest, 25, are accused of providing liquor and beer to six 13- and 14-year-olds at a February birthday party for Downs’ daughter. Two girls, one 13 and the other 14, passed out and were later taken to a hospital, according to court documents.

Downs allegedly offered $10 to whoever could chug a glass of vodka the fastest. Guest is accused of pouring the shots.

“We continue to work to educate teenagers and adults about the dangerous effects of teen drinking,” Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd in a news release. “But understand this: It is a crime to give alcohol to somebody’s child. And any adult who creates a substantial risk to the life, body, or health of a child can face felony charges.”

Police responded to a complaint of a loud party at a home in northern Kansas City around 2 a.m. Feb. 22 and found the teenage girls, several of whom told investigators that they had been drinking heavily. One girl who was unconscious was taken to a hospital, where her blood content was later determined to be .218, more than twice the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle.

A second girl also was taken to the hospital because officers believed she had alcohol poisoning.

“This was a very serious and dangerous situation,” Kansas City police Chief Jim Corwin said. “We are fortunate we are not standing here discussing a homicide.”

Officers found between 60 and 70 empty beer bottles and several empty liquor bottles scattered throughout the home’s basement.

The girls told officers that Downs offered them shots and told them not to tell their parents about it. After running out of alcohol, Guest asked the girls if they had any money to buy more, Zahnd said, and the two suspects and one of the girls then bought another bottle of vodka.

One of the girls told police she had beer and nine or 10 shots of vodka, he said.

“I would like to think that the outrageous actions alleged in this case will be viewed by responsible adults as totally unacceptable,” said Vicky Ward, coordinator of a community group that works to reduce teen drinking.

Downs was being held on $25,000 bond and Guest was being held on $20,000 bond. Both were cash-only.

The prosecutor’s office said neither woman had hired a lawyer as of Tuesday afternoon.

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