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Owner: We do not serve minors

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:49 PM

Newton Street resident Tammi Long demands to know why her 16-year-old daughter supposedly was allowed into Charlie's Bar earlier this month and was drinking "with a bunch of friends, all underage."

And she wants to know why police didn't take immediate action.

"Even at my age, I'm ID'd everywhere," Long, 34, said.

Donna Rossman, who has run Charlie's Bar since August 1983, said there's no way Long's daughter made it inside her establishment July 6. Charlie's Bar has been in business since about 1933.

"We did not serve that girl," Rossman said defiantly. "No, we check IDs.

"Nobody served alcohol (to minors) and we have two security guys who check IDs," she said. "We don't serve underage. We catch them. We kick them out."

A person accused of serving or selling alcohol to a minor would be charged with sales underage. The first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

"Obviously, if they are underage and not with a parent, it's illegal" to drink at a bar, Norwalk Police Chief Kevin Cashen said. "If we (can) make a case, we do so. If we can't make a case, we send someone in to make a (controlled underage) purchase."

Cashen said his officers have the option of doing their own investigation of juvenile-related alcohol complaints or submit it to the Ohio Investigative Unit, or doing both.

"We typically handle our own investigations," he said.

The chief noted it's not unusual to get complaints like Long's, about juveniles at Norwalk bars, but said those cases are difficult to prosecute if the family or juvenile don't cooperate.

Long said she found out about her daughter going to the Benedict Avenue bar after two women told her the girl had bruises on her face.

"They questioned her about it," Long said, and the girl accused "two grown women" of jumping her after she left work.

Long went to the intersection of East Elm Street and Woodlawn Avenue to pick up her daughter July 7, the night after she reportedly visited the bar.

"She knew at the time I knew about the drinking," Long said. She found the girl walking on East Elm.

"Her daughter did not want to go with her and said, 'I'll get another domestic violence (charge) if you don't leave me alone,'" Capt. Jack O'Neil wrote in his July 8 report. "Ms. Long then left her walking and went home, hoping she would come home."

She was located Friday in Mansfield by the Mansfield Police Department.

Since May 2006, police have made 10 underage consumption arrests at Charlie's, Cashen said. In the same time, there were two arrests on furnishing alcohol to underage persons.

Rossman calls her business "tight on security," saying her bouncers "are walking the floor all night." She said it's possible someone could have brought alcohol to a minor outside Charlie's Bar or that a minor snuck in while a bouncer was taking a bathroom break.

Charlie's bouncers are required to put large X's on people's hands if they are under 21, signifying they're not allowed to be served alcohol. Long said when her sister filled out a police report, O'Neil doubted her allegation that she had witnessed Charlie's bartenders serve alcohol to underage drinkers.

"I know Capt. O'Neil is following up," Cashen said.

"Dating back to January 2005, that establishment (Charlie's) had only one violation of underage consumption," said Tom Hunter, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

"Obviously, we would prefer that would be zero. But over the past 30-plus months there are no signs of problems with this establishment. The times we have been in to check we have found no problems."

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