Cops tipped off to underage party

Log cabin-style house in Sunapee, New Hampshire, where an underage drinking party attended by members of Phillips Academy's Class of 2015 was broken up by police early Monday.

The day before they broke up an underage drinking party attended by dozens of Phillips Academy Andover students, police in Sunapee, N.H., received an anonymous tip "there was going to be a graduation party on Trow Hill (Road) in a log cabin," according to court documents.

Then, at 4 a.m. on Monday, a newspaper deliveryman called police after he found an "unresponsive" male "hanging out his car window" near 23 Trow Hill Road, according to an affidavit filed by Sunapee Police Sgt. Timothy Puchtler in the local district court. 

Some 74 new graduates of the prestigious prep school who attended the underage drinking party were later arrested or detained by Sunapee police. 

Rhaime Kim, 18, a member of Phillips' Class of 2015 who rented the 23 Trow Hill Road home where the party took place, was arrested and charged with facilitating an underage alcohol house party, a Class A misdemeanor. 

After turning herself in to police the following day, she was released on personal recognizance. She, along with other Phillips students charged after the party, are scheduled for arraignment on Aug. 4 in the local district court, the 5th Circuit Court in neighboring Newport, New Hampshire.

Phillips Academy's graduation was held last Sunday.

On Sunday at 11 a.m., police in neighboring New London, N.H., notified Sunapee police they had received a call from an anonymous and concerned individual about a possible party at Trow Hill Road "and just wanted to make sure everything was going to be alright," Puchtler wrote in his court affidavit obtained yesterday by The Eagle-Tribune. 

Early Monday morning, after the newspaper deliveryman called police, Puchtler responded to 23 Trow Hill Road. 

He said he found many individuals "all of a youthful appearance" outside the log cabin-style home. Standing in the doorway of the home, "I detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from inside of the residence and I could also see alcoholic beverages all over the kitchen."

Puchtler said he asked one young man if there was an adult in charge. The boy said yes and went to look for someone but never returned, he wrote. 

The officer said he was then told "the adults were no longer at the residence." 

Everyone in the home was gathered in the living room, he said, "approximately 74 individuals, of which many appeared to have been consuming alcohol." 

Puchtler then said he asked "who present was 21 years of age or older. No one responded." When he asked who had not been drinking alcohol, no one responded. And when he asked who was in charge of the residence, "again no one present responded." 

Everyone at the party was found to be under age 21 and all recent Phillips Academy Andover graduates, Puchtler wrote in the affidavit. 

Officers from New Hampshire State Police along with Sunapee, New London, Goshen and Newport police all responded to the party Monday morning. 

A local school bus was used to transport everyone to the Sunapee Police Department. Some 30 cars were towed and impounded. 

The owner of the home is listed as Thomas Clayton of Rumford, R.I., who had rented the property to Kim, Puchtler wrote. 

Trow Hill Road is off Route 11 in Sunapee, a town of fewer than 3,500 people in southwest New Hampshire about 20 miles from the Vermont border. 

No one was home Friday at the house where the party took place. A boat covered with a blue tarp was parked in the front yard of the home. 

The house has four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms and is valued at $273,800, according to Sunapee assessing records.

In New Hampshire, the charge of facilitating an underage alcohol house party carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and $2,000 fine. 

Kim was the only student identified by police initially. But yesterday, police released a list of 59 students who were either charged with an alcohol-related crime or taken into protective custody. Of the 59, 21 were charged as adults. The names of the remaining 15 students were redacted because they were juveniles who were not charged with a crime. 

Sunapee Police Chief David Cahill said one reason for the delay in releasing the names was that there were so many inquiries about the incident, including calls from the U.S. State Department and from foreign consulates because some of the students detained were foreign nationals. 

"This was no ordinary house party incident," Cahill said. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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