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Menlo man charged in teen delinquency cases

Original post made on Nov 28, 2011

The presence of more than 40 teenagers, ages 16 and 17, possibly under the influence of alcohol, at a home in the 1200 block of Woodland Avenue on Friday led officers from the Menlo Park Police Department to arrest William Burnett, 54, on charges of contributing to the delinquency of minors, a police department spokeswoman said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, November 28, 2011, 4:29 PM

Comments (33)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2011 at 6:28 pm

It is now the law that the homeowner doesn't even have to be home or aware of minors drinking in his home. The article says that they were possibly under the influence of alcohol. At first reading, this article seems shocking, but there are enough details left out to hide the true happenings here.


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Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm

huh. It wasn't all that many yrs ago (maybe 7?) that a local elem teacher hosted a Palo Alto party w/tons of underage drinkers (local kids, apparently) which prompted neighbors to call the cops; kids ran off and were let go by the police as were the adult party hosts. In THIS case, the homeowner is being booked into jail! Odd discrepancy.


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Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm

As the Burnett's neighbor, I can say that the real story of this incident were the abuses of power and the frank illegalities committed by the police that night. They interrogated minors without their parents or guardians present; they handcuffed and taunted a disabled, 3-days-post-back-surgery woman and made her stand outside without her walker or a chair; they forced the kids to sit on the freezing lawn for hours and when Mr. Burnett's wife asked if she could get the kids some jackets or blankets, the officers told her that they were "teaching the kids a lesson"; they never gave Mr. Burnett a reason why they were arresting him and he only found out the next day from his family what the charges were....the list goes on.

Absolutely unbelievable. Mr. Burnett has a spotless record and has been a homeowner in Menlo Park for 17 years. He has raised three kids (two now at Stanford) in this neighborhood and his tax dollars payed for the abuse and injustice he and his family suffered on Friday night. Not only will the baseless charges crumble in a court of law, but the Burnett family has multiple grounds to seek recourse for the illegals actions of the police who handled the incident.

When did our community turn into a place where a few kids bring over some beers without anyone knowing, and the father and owner of the house - who had been bringing the kids a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies when the police barged through the door - gets booked into jail? I am just appalled.


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 28, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Since when is 40 a "few"?? Mr. Burnett is lucky that none of the kids that left got hurt or in a crash since the repercussion could have gone back to him!

Maybe you and Mr. Burnett could hold a block party next time...


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Looks like a weird over reaction by the MPPD.


If PAUSD kids have been drinking at a tailgates @ Stanford football games would they arrest SU president Hennessey for contributing to the delinquency of minors?--they should by the same criteria they used in this case.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Big Al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Agree with Sharon.
Hope that these over zealous officers get reprimanded for their
overbearing behavior.
Perhpaps they should ease of the muscle milk, muscle heads.


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Posted by Sally
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm

There are often many sides of a story and the truth is lost in the telling and retelling. People will lie to stay out of trouble or to place blame on others. A lie that get repeated over and over, becomes "truth" for those that want it to be so.




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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Whatever side one takes, one should recognize that no kids crashed & died drunk driving in the area that night. No one knows whether one of those kids would've driven drunk, but from having been a Paly student myself, I'd have to say the odds of a drunk driving incident were lowered by the MPPD's actions.

As such, my opinion is that jumping all over them for the way they handled things is to overlook the greater good they generally do.


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 29, 2011 at 8:34 am

"Looks like a weird over reaction by the MPPD."
No point in waiting for all the information to be made available. Sharon has ruled based on her inside knowledge of the incident.

"If PAUSD kids have been drinking at a tailgates @ Stanford football games would they arrest SU president Hennessey for contributing to the delinquency of minors?--they should by the same criteria they used in this case."
Sharon has no clue about how the laws governing drinking by minors at a private residence works. She also has no clue as to what Hennessey's role at Stanford is. Sounds like someone is once again trying to stir the pot

"There is lots of juvenile delinquency --and murder--in East MP every day"
There is murder in East MP every day?? Really??

"--that is where MPPD should focus their attention."
You mean not in the overwhelming white parts of town, where there is plenty of crime going on as well. What are you trying to say, Sharon??

"We hope that Mr. Burnett sues MPPD and wins a multi-million award and that heads role and pensions end for the clowns"
Who is we? Why don't you share with us all the facts you have about this incident, since based on your comments you must be privy to information that is not available to everyone.


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Posted by Rick
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 29, 2011 at 8:55 am

I have known Mr. Burnett many years. In the past I would have trusted him with my teenagers; today I would trust him with my grandkids.


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Posted by silly
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Please do not speak for us all Sharon, "we" do not hope anything for mr. burnett. Perhaps he should be sued by the other parents for allowing their children to drink at his residence or the city for having to deal with the problem he created. Which was illegal by the way, don't forget that. We can look at this from many different angles. It appears maybe a stupid comment by the cops was the only thing done wrong in this instance.

20 year olds, perhaps I could feel for him, but 16-17 ????


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm

So what has he done wrong? Having 40 teenagers at his home, is that wrong? They possibly were under the influence of alcohol? Is there evidence that they were drinking there? Was alcohol found there? Were any of them with their cars?

I don't know exactly what he has done to deserve this contribution to delinquency charge. Did someone, a neighbor perhaps, call the cops? Did he send away some kids who arrived with alcohol who then called the cops out of spite? Was he trying to be responsible in all this and got in a damned if I do and damned if I don't scenario?

Give the poor guy a chance to defend himself. The jury seems to have convicted him without hearing the evidence here.


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Posted by Teen
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm

As a teen at the party I would just like to state that everything was exaggerated not ALL 44 teens were drunk like it said on the cover of the Daily Post. Also the majority of our parents knew where we were that night. Mr. Burnett and his wife took away the keys of all the kids who drove there and the cops knew that. Yes we are all under the age of 21 but we were drinking responsibly and the majority of us are seniors who are going to college next year so we were experiencing what will obviously be done in college.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 29, 2011 at 9:41 pm

As a parent of one of the kids who attended the party, I am appalled of the treatment by the MPPD. The police refused to let anyone get up or go to the bathroom, resulting in kids urinating in their pants. Mr. Burnett's wife just had back surgery, and they made her stand despite repeated requests to allow her to sit down. She also asked the officers if she could get the kids blankets and jackets who were freezing, but they did not let her. The police have absolutely nothing to do in Menlo Park, so they think they can be all tough when a opportunity arises. Many parents in this area are very lenient about drinking, but they do take safety into consideration. The Burnett's did the right thing and collected everyone's keys. The cops were being punks to the kids and this behavior by the police should never be tolerated.


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Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 29, 2011 at 11:08 pm

This is ridiculous. Lets all be honest, teenagers are going to have a few beers. They are 17 years old people! A father was there. Big Woop! Theres more serious shit out there. If he gets a year in prison, I'm going to go and complain to the police myself. Every single person commenting on this had some beers in high school. It is better that a father was there to make sure things didnt get out of hand. Sound like the kids were in better hands then when these horrible cops showed up and ruined everyone's night, made everyone sit in the cold, and show complete disrespect. Menlo Park Police should fight crime, not kids having some fun. That is all.


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 30, 2011 at 11:56 am

The many posts defending the accused in this case serves as a perfect illustration of why these kids make a mistake like this to begin with. And they wonder why their children get into trouble. Excuses, rationalization, failing to be accountable, lack of responsibility, and enabling. The children mirror the behavior of the adults every time.


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Posted by JohnJR
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Phil (previous poster) hit the nail on the head...

And what if one of these teens were to leave the party and cause a DUI accident possibly killing or hurting others? Two adults hosting a party with over 40 high school kids allowing them to drink is just ludicrous!

Here is a GREAT publication put out by the Stanford University Medical Trauma Center (kind of ironic... Stanford Trauma Center... and a Stanford Professor)

Web Link

** Page 5, Scenario 2 & 3 ** for those of you who think Burnett was in the right by allowing what he did. If anything the cops might of just saved some lives that night.


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Exactly John JR. Very well stated. I'm tired of this behavior where people fail to take any responsibility for their actions and blame everyone else except themselves.


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Posted by Mtn View Neighbor
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Outrageous over reach by the Menlo PD.
Can't say I approve of Mr Burnett's parenting style but this is an absurdly out of proportion reaction.
Hopefully he wins his case and the officers involved are severely disciplined.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm

The suspect actually took the keys from every person who attended the party. Get your facts right. Some kids having a couple beers while a parent is in the house does not always mean DUI is inevitable. Sounds like he took a safety precaution there. Stop jumping to conclusions JohnJR.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Get real.

40 kids.. that's a lot of homemade chocolate chip cookies.


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Posted by JohnJR
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 30, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Over reach? Let's say the cops didn't do anything that night.. And one of the kids wrapped a car into a telephone pole.. Or God forbid a heinous sex crime at the party.. Who would be the first to blame? The cops. Wish we could take a vote of all the CHILDRENS parents to see if this was an "over reach" or not.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 30, 2011 at 7:35 pm

good point anon.. imagine the number of chocolate chips.. there are tons in each cookie. tragedy..


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 30, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Sure love me a helping of chocolate chip cookies

followed by dubstep


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dubstep
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I mean the amount of muscle milk that must have been consumed/added to those chocolate cookies... YIKES


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Posted by Friend
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Drinking under the age of 21 is against the law period. Has that changed recently? Thanks


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 1, 2011 at 12:20 am

Why is it that the police officers' names are not published in any of the reports?

If the names of the alleged are printed, so should the names of the officers involved. By this, the name of a spokeswoman just does not cut it. There is nothing worse than someone who swears to protect the people, paid by the people, but in turn uses that badge to abuse the ones who entrust him/her that responsibility.

Print the officers' names, and let justice take it's course. It is ironic how much it costs the city and county tax payers to have someone sit in a car under the shade for hours while eating and drinking. It is time to police the police.




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Posted by Parent enablers
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 1, 2011 at 12:22 am

Since the father took the keys from the kids, he knew they were going to drink and he enabled it. Clearly this is contributing to the delinquency of minors.
And you only need one kid driving drunk to create a terrible tragedy.
Sure the cops overreacted but the Menlo Park police are known to be too tough. I once jaywalked and was treated like a criminal. Never did it again. But the crime here is real.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 1, 2011 at 12:33 am

Parent enabler, if you can justify being treated like a criminal for jaywalking and that it is okay for the MPPD to overstep the boundaries just because they always do, then, you can also justify a serial killer is acceptable just because they kill serially, no?

An extreme example, but that is to emphasize your super logical thinking.


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Posted by Friend
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Drinking under the age of 21 is against the law period. Has that changed recently? Thanks


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Posted by Chuck Norris
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 5:42 am

I think that all the folks that are slamming the professor are correct he made a mistake!
He should have not taught his child how to organize an function properly w/ supervision.

The kids should have found a location where NO supervision was available and been able to keep there car keys in there pockets.
They could have also got completely drunk beyond belief and then gone crushing around and done some real damage!!!

Shame on anyone who wants to be involved in their children's lives or the lives of the kids they go to school with.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 16, 2011 at 1:47 am

The arresting officer and 6 other police officers to "handle" the case at the scene?

Here's the law abiding, non overzealous, Ed Soares, who led the case at the scene.
Web Link

Thank you, all you taxpayers, for your generosity.


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Posted by Kimberly
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2012 at 10:04 am

Well if the police are going to arrest the parents then why don't the police try to help the situation and have a dog that can sniff alcohol. Parents then tell the police when they are having a party and appx. how many kids will be there and the dog sniffs prior to entering the house. No one leaves and re-enters the house. You have a deadline of party starts at 5:00 p.m. NO one will be allowed to enter after 5:15 p.m. etc. This would cut down or throw all the kids in the clink along with 1 parent from the house. Don't just only punish the parent make the kid(s) stand responsible for their actions also. They may be a minor but they are old enough to be accountable for their actions.


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