A lawsuit against an heir to the du Pont family fortune has reignited the debate over “affluenza,” a condition supposedly involving a proclivity to bad activity, without fear of consequences, caused by one’s wealthy upbringing.
The term “affluenza” first ignited a national debate in 2013 when the attorneys for a wealthy Texas teenager claimed that his wealthy upbringing had stunted his psychological development, leading him to cause a fatal drunk driving crash. An expert witness for the teenager’s defense coined this phenomenon “affluenza.”
Now, the debate has been reignited after a lawsuit was filed against Robert H. Richards, a member of the wealthy du Pont family. Richards’s ex-wife filed the lawsuit, which alleges that Richards sexually abused his toddler son.
This is the second such charge against Richards. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to fourth-degree rape of his 3 year-old daughter. However, the judge in that case declined to sentence Richards to jail time because he believed Richards “would not fare well” in such a setting. Richards instead received 8 years of probation.
In this new lawsuit, Richards’s ex-wife claims that Richards sexually abused his son, and that he used his “family’s wealth and position in the community” to avoid facing the consequences for his actions. The lawsuit against Richards seeks unspecified personal injury damages, including “compensatory and punitive damages for assault, negligence and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress on his two children.”
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