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Michigan Man Penalized for Buying Son Alcohol

Son Taken From Father Who Accidentally Bought Spiked Drink

The next time your kid asks you to buy him a lemonade, be careful what your order. And, check the ingredients so Child Protective Services doesn't come after you.

To see what happened to an unassuming Michigan man and his son,


According to a Detroit Free Press article, Christopher Ratte of Ann Arbor, MI, took his son Leo to Comerica park in Detroit for a Tigers baseball game. On the way to their seats, his 7–year–old son asked his pop to buy him a lemonade. Happily, Christopher bought lil Leo a Mike's Hard Lemonade not knowing the bottled juice is actually a malt beverage.

Neither the boy or the parent were aware that the refresher contained alcohol. But, the security guard who spotted the tyke sipping the bottle knew right away.

Leo was quickly taken to the Children's Hospital where his blood level was tested for alcohol. It turned up negative. Still, Leo was held in CPS custody for one night and then put into foster care for an additional night before the courts finally allowed his mother to take him home.

If the father knew the lemonade was spiked, he should not have permitted his child to consume it. But how can you fault a man for not being up to date on the latest hard drinks? I bet he learned his lesson.

Do you think the punishment justified the "crime"?

Join The Conversation
amber_castaldo amber_castaldo 9 years
This is just crazy. I could totally see where you could go wrong. I feel bad for the boy who had to spend 2 days away from his family.
sweetnshy5282 sweetnshy5282 9 years
that is so unfortunate that they took the child away for 2 days and nights. I hope the father isn't facing any criminal charges. it seems as though it was an honest mistake. Dss should be taking care of the children who are being seriously abused and neglected instaed of the misunderstandings of good parents. I live in Massachusetts and our DSS systen has recently scored a D- for failure to follow up on criminal abuse and neglet cases. children are dying at the hands of their care giviers while parents who make a simple mistake w/ no harm done are being persecuted and thier children punished. sometimes the systen just doesn't work as it should....
babysugar babysugar 9 years
Thanks schnappycat and Gossamer for catching my typo! I've been to the park and should know better!
Dbtabm Dbtabm 9 years
I didn't say he did it on purpose. I'm saying he wasn't paying attention. If I'm buying something for my kid I don't recognize I check the label to see if it has caffeine etc. When something says malt liquor on the label you need a slap on the hand at least. I don't think the little boy should have been separated from them though.
beeps beeps 9 years
Wow - how unfortunate. The poor family - of course it was a mistake. The guy is a professor or something according to the news. Of course he didn't realize it had alcohol in it. And as to why the boy didn't have any alcohol in his system? Because he was seven and the lemonade probably "tasted funny" to him and he wouldn't drink it. Good parents make mistakes and this appears like one of those times. Hopefully they will be able to put this behind them.
schnappycat schnappycat 9 years
Gossamer--Go Blue! I'm a U of M alum myself. :)
Gossamer Gossamer 9 years
To anyone that questions Ratte not noticing the cost of the drink its not at all hard. Pepsi is like 6 dollars so whats 2 dollars more for lemonade. Funny Story similar to this kid's was when my cousins came over from Swedan. They have a 6 year old and it was his uncle's wedding so he was in the limo with the bridal party. He found beer in the limo asks his mom if he can drink t and she says yes. Three drinks later another member of the bridal party noticed that the kid was drinking beer and explained that to his mother. She was worried sick. She doesn't speak good English and did not recognize the beer brand.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
honey693 has a good point. My mom would have zero clue. And not everyone drinks alcohol either. Two days away in foster care seems a bit harsh.
Gossamer Gossamer 9 years
Babysugar, the ball park is Comerica as in the bank not CoAmerica. I'm from Detroit so I am kind of obsessed with Detroit sports. I am a student at UM-Ann Arbor where Ratte teaches and took classes with him and he so does not seem like the terrible father type. He is really nice and its not hard to think that Mike's hard lemonade was not alcoholic. My parents wouldn't know any better because they don't drink and they could possibly make the same mistake with my 7 year old sister. Child protection services could have spent their time looking for real abusive parents rather than punishing a man who took his kid to a ball game.
schnappycat schnappycat 9 years's Comerica Park. Not CoAmerica Park. ;) I could see this happening and feel bad for the family. Like was mentioned above, my mom probably would have no clue either. Sounds like just a terrible mixup.
fireyelectra fireyelectra 9 years
skigurl, most drinks of any kind are far more expensive than they should be at a professional sporting event. ive seen $6 lemonades at the oakland a's stadium. and that's in oakland.
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
There are people who do not drink so they have no need to ever walk into a liquor store (which is why most people know what this is) and may not even be around other people who consume alcohol. SO it is very possible that the father didn't know. I think it would have been a little more appropriate for the security guard to ask the father first and then decided based on the explanation/reaction and show of concern if he should call higher authorities. This seems a bit extreme.
foxie foxie 9 years
Dbta- You seriously think this guy knew it was alcohol? Maybe if this happened at home- but not in a stadium full of people, cameras, and security. Get real.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 9 years
I feel bad for him. A lot of people say "how could you not know?" Well, very easily if all you drink is beer or don't drink at all... that makes it easy to think Mike's Lemonade is Lemonade not an alcoholic beverage. Good for the system to actually step up and help the child. But it sucks that it actually did to the wrong parent.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
I used to work security at a baseball stadium and this happens all the time. As far as I'm aware, the worst that ever happened was the parents being questioned by police.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
I cant believe someone wouldn't recognize mike's hard lemonade...not someone who attends sporting events like that and plus, didn't he wonder why the lemonade cost 8$?
Dbtabm Dbtabm 9 years
I have a really hard time believing that this guy didn't know this was liquor, it says it right on the bottle. How dumb do you have to be? And this isn't the "latest" hard beverage it's been around for years and years.
anniekim anniekim 9 years
Dad was careless and clueless, definitely. But to essentially punish the child by keeping him away from his family for 2 days and nights? Seems extreme treatment for a 7 year old.
honey693 honey693 9 years
I can see how it would happen. My mom would have no idea that hard lemonade means alcoholic. She's just assume it mean less sugar or more lemons or something. Poor guy.
AujahAcorn AujahAcorn 9 years
poor family. i am sure this was hard on the child.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
Dad could appear very visibly adult. He could easily be middle-aged (or older, even). Older couples have children more frequently now, it seems -- and it has always been common enough for older men to have a second set of children with a young second or third wife. At some point, I think it's reasonable to stop carding (using common sense). But I have no idea about the age of this particular father. (You make a great point, if the father is still youngish.)
DesignRchic DesignRchic 9 years
Oh no! That's terrible. I could see how it can be mistaken. I can drink a crap load of those and not get a buzz from them, so I'm sure the kid's fine. What I don't get is that he should have been carded for buying it, and if he didn't, why? That would have sparked a question for the dad as to why he got carded, then it might have not happened.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
Wow. That sucks. I *totally* believe that this was a mistake, but (honestly) Dad was more than just a smidgen oblivious. The label reads "hard lemonade" (if it was, indeed, Mike's brand that he purchased). I never consume alcohol and so I'm fairly clueless about drinks and such, but it isn't difficult to read a label. If the purveyor of drinks realized that the son wanted the lemonade, I would've expected him/her to speak up and mention the alcoholic content in a friendly kind of way. Perhaps s/he didn't pick up on the child's request. Were the child-friendly drinks placed next to the adult beverages? (Even still, it's called parenting for a reason. But, yikes, such a seemingly honest oversight. Dad was wearing some serious blinders. Fella must be mortified. Imagine having to explain that to Mom.) Hmmm. Unfortunate, all the way around. (And harsh.) Glad kiddo is okay.
kia kia 9 years
This is a hard one because it is possible it was an honest mistake. It would have been better if the security guard pointed out the mistake to the father and would have seen how the parent reacted but you can't fault the security guard. He was acting in the child's best interest. If it was an honest mistake I hope the family is not prosecuted for the action with parenting seminars, further CPS involvement, etc. This reminds me of the case where the California Applebees gave some toddler a spiked drink in her sippee cup instead of apple juice.
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