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*Strasburg woman draws home confinement for letting child drive car

Barbara Gochenour (Buy photo)

By Preston Knight -- pknight@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- A Strasburg woman must spend 60 days on home confinement for letting an 11-year-old girl drive her and her 4-year-old son home last year.

Barbara Ann Gochenour, 41, of 647 Branch St., was sentenced to four years in prison, all suspended, for two charges of child endangerment Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.

As terms of four years of probation, Judge Dennis L. Hupp sentenced her to 60 days of house arrest, which the defendant had requested -- if jail time were to be given -- to care for her ailing parents.

Sentencing guidelines called for probation with no incarceration.

Gochenour allowed her friend's 11-year-old daughter to drive her home from Toms Brook along U.S. 11 on July 4. The woman's 4-year-old son was in the back seat. Gochenour had been drinking that night, but was not drunk.

"What concerns me is the fact that she let an 11-year-old operate a 2,000-pound piece of machinery," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ken Alger said. "The idea that an 11-year-old has any idea how to operate a vehicle blows my mind. The lack of sound judgment here and the danger this imposed ... we're talking seven miles ... it's just astronomical."

Hupp said "foolish" and "stupid" were fitting adjectives to describe the crime.

For further developments, visit nvdaily.com or read the print edition of The Northern Virginia Daily.

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