Jail time for bong-smoking baby’s mother

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Rachelle L. Braaten pleads guilty to “delivery” of marijuana in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Centralia mother who was captured on cell phone video offering up a marijuana bong to her toddler’s mouth was sentenced today to six months in jail.

Rachelle L. Braaten, 24, admitted what she did as part of a plea agreement, and the judge went along with it.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler called the recommendations appropriate, given the particular facts of the case.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke and defense attorney Sam Groberg told the judge what Braaten did involved a foolish lapse of judgement by a young mother while in the company of pot smokers in her home.

“It was at least those things,” Lawler told Braaten. “You’ve got to take care of your child.

“Being a parent means you have to protect your child; hopefully you’ve learned your lesson.”

Braaten and the boy’s father were arrested in early March.

Centralia police initially said they went to the home on the 1400 block of Delaware Avenue to confiscate marijuana plants, but court documents described the anonymous video they received as the primary reason for law enforcement’s visit to the home.

No charges have been filed in connection to the marijuana plants; the deputy prosecutor said it turned out there was evidence 25-year-old Tyler J. Lee was  validly prescribed medical marijuana and validly providing it for a second person.

According to the documents, Braaten told police she knew she shouldn’t be giving her son a hit off the bong, but felt “peer-pressured.”

She has no criminal background.

The video, which caught the attention of a worldwide audience on news sites, includes the sound of laughter from a number of people as the child approaches the marijuana smoking device which the mother is holding, and when his mouth gets close to its top, the little one rears back and coughs.

Braaten pleaded guilty today to delivery of marijuana, which carried a sentence of zero to six months, as well as a violation of a no contact order.

The charge which was dropped –  delivery of a controlled substance by a person over 18 to a person under 18, domestic violence –  has a standard sentencing range of 51 to 68 months.

“Our big thing is once she takes responsibility for what happened, I don’t think she needs to be subjected to the high sentencing range,” O’Rourke told the judge.

Both of her sons were taken by Child Protective Services initially. It wasn’t discussed in court where they are now.

Under the terms set forth by CPS, Braaten began attending parenting classes at Centralia College, which stopped when she was put in jail for violating the no contact order last month, O’Rourke told the judge.

Lawler said she could have contact with her son under the conditions allowed by CPS, but he made it part of the court order she continue parenting classes.

He implored her to embrace the course as an opportunity to become the very best mother possible.

“You’re young, you don’t have a lot of experience,” the judge said. “There’s a lot to be learned.”

For background, read “Police: Marijuana smoking toddler taken from Centralia parents” from Friday March 8, 2013, here

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13 Responses to “Jail time for bong-smoking baby’s mother”

  1. Bo Rupert says:

    If the child had cancer or some kind of terminal illness I am ok with the mother using marijuana or cannabis to medicate the child. I was born with cancer in both of my eyes and lost an eye due to cancer. During chemo therapy I could not eat because I was so sick. If it had not been for my mother giving me cannabis infused brownies during this era of my life I would not have been able to eat and would have been in a lot more pain. I say this should be done by parental discretion and is none of governments business.

  2. bubblers says:

    This is terrible, a child should be free from influences of drugs till they are older, and understand how their body works, not to mention have their life together, Judge did right.

  3. woweeeekazoweeee says:

    I think my screen name says it all…..woweeeekazoweeee…..

  4. Dominoe says:

    Marijuana is legal there’s nothing criminal about it anymore. Giving it to your baby???? Foul and stupid and effed up…. SHE’S A DUMB B:+CH. What I am saying is; that her sentence when compared to Heupel’s, makes you wonder about the mental capacity of the prosecutor, not those on trial. Heupel sat back and allowed her baby to be raped and tortured to DEATH, this twit let het baby breathe bong smoke… Not really comparable. I mean neither are capable parents, by my standards but COME ON. This kid is alive and essentially unharmed. Can’t really say the same for Koralynn. One year in Purdy minimum security (Ooooohhhhh big f*ck) or more likely Mission Creek (which is a resort) for the girl (who is most likely sun bathing right now) with the dead baby (who was tortured and raped to death). 6 months in a tomb of a sh:thole jail, without so much as a window, for the girl (who will literally not see the light of day until she’s released) who’s baby is alive and well and got a little stoned…. Does anyone see what I’m trying to communicate here? It sends a message that a child is valued less if he got stoned than if she’s dead. (btw second hand cigarette smoke is worse for you and its legal to smoke all day around kids). If anyone got the idea that I’m advocating for this broad who got her toddler stoned YOU’RE VERY MISTAKEN.

  5. Guilty Bystander says:

    No argument from me that this woman isn’t the sharpest pencil in the drawer and that some jail time is in order (taking her child away and matching him up with responsible adoptive parents wouldn’t be the worst thing for him, either), but I don’t see why she’s getting six months in jail while a drunk driver only gets 24 hours. Who poses the greater threat to society?

  6. B.L. Zebub says:

    All comparasins with the Heupel case aside, I do have to say I am glad parenting classes are a part of her sentence. I am pretty troubled by her explanation for her behavior. Peer pressure? Come on. This woman is 24 years old. If she is still succumbing to peer pressure then I seriously question her ability to parent. It’s not just that she showed poor judgement by giving a toddler a bong hit, but either did it to impress her friends who apparently thought it hilarious, or is just using “peer pressure” to rationalize her behavior and avoid full responsibility.

    I think the last time I blamed peer pressure on my decision-making I was 14, and bs-ing my parents to get out of trouble.

  7. Bahlsdeep says:

    Decriminalize marijuana all you want and I am good with that. Force feed it to your kids and there is an issue. She WAS looking at 4-7 years for this move but for unknown reasons, she got a slap on the wrist. If she gets her child back after this, the state needs to start writing the check and adding zeros after she messes up next

  8. What now? says:

    Blind to the fact, you must have other issues, that was a big jump…

  9. B.L. Zebub says:

    Yeah…. seems like the issue here is less about the sentence for the “bong mom”, as she clearly was in the wrong and there was indisputable photo evidence. I think most of us can agree that jailtime isn’t cruel or unusual. I am a vocal supporter for decriminalizing pot- for consenting adults. It’s the ridiculously short sentence for Heupel that is so upsetting. It’s frustrating when justice doesn’t appear to be applied evenly.

  10. Blind to the Fact says:

    Pot stirrer I concur and disagree, a parent has the obligated right to know what is right from wrong giving a two year old a controlled substance is a little bit overboard. On the other hand church goers who are blind to the child abuse around them because they want to keep a up righteous view in the church or community and their child ends up abused, hoked on drugs, or even dead should be held as responsible as the mom who let her child smoke marijuana. Just my opinion also Dominoe you have a valid point to.

  11. Pot Stirrer says:

    Something has BEEN off, for a very long time.

    While I agree that what she did was neither legal, nor something a parent should do, the punishment should fit the crime. I don’t see parents busted for giving their children alcohol getting 6 months. What, exactly, is the difference?

  12. Dominoe says:

    Something is off in Lewis County. Becky Heupel gets a year for neglecting her parenting duties so badly her daughter is dead, and this girl who’s child is alive and no worse for the wear (save for a few less brain cells IF that) gets an exact HALF of Heupel’s sentence? What the f#*k?
    Love the message they’re sending: Don’t get ur baby stoned or its 6 months for u in the biggest sh:thole county jail in the US.. ..But only a few months more spent at a summer campe style minimum security facility if u let them be raped and tortured to death. Incompetent fools.

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