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Posted March 30, 2011 | comments 5 Comments

*Strasburg woman draws home confinement for letting child drive car

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.

5 Comments |

    "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.

    And what does this sentencing say???

    60 days home confinement. Another typical Shenandoah County Slap on the Wrist. Someone needs to examine these "sentencing guidelines" and who makes them.

    Well, thank God no one was killed. She may have had to spend 120 days in home confinement. This is why the highways are so dangerous. Maybe they will raise the speed limit to 80 mph and lower the driving age to 12.After all they will be on the road less time the faster they drive. Makes sense in Shenandoah County.

    To me the sentencing says the judge didn’t really see it as THAT serious of an offence. He didn’t see it as a safety issue to other drivers or pedestrians. This woman didn’t only endanger those children in the car but every citizen and every child in every vehicle on the road or sidewalk that day. To me the sentencing sais. Hey, why not let your child drive if you had too much to drink? If you get caught nothing will really happen. If you get caught letting a child drive it will be much less severe than getting caught driving drunk. Sentenced to four years in prison then only got 60 days of house arrest? That’s not EVEN a slap on the wrist. WHAT a joke! In my opinion the judge himself is guilty of poor judgment and I believe "foolish" and "stupid" are fitting adjectives to describe the sentencing.

    I am VERY curious as to what the parents of the 11 year old have to say, and how is it she "knows how to drive?" Are they letting her operate motor vehicles as well?


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