Not guilty entered in baby-bong case

Mom admits giving pot to 22-month-old due to peer pressure

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The Centralia mother who allegedly allowed her 22-month-old son to inhale marijuana from a bong pleaded not guilty to delivery of a controlled substance to a minor Thursday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Rachelle L. Braaten appeared out of custody in court Thursday and hid her face from the Seattle television news crew filming the court hearing. She declined to comment afterward.

The 24-year-old was arrested March 8 after police received a tip that she had allowed her son, who is now 2 years old, to inhale marijuana from a bong, according to court documents.

Braaten's trial is tentatively set for May 27. She will appear next in court April 11.

The case began when an officer received a video from an anonymous source that showed a woman, later determined to be Braaten, putting a glass bong up to the mouth of a child, according to court documents. Several people can be heard in the background of the video laughing as the child's mouth approached the bong.

When the child's mouth got close to the top of the bong, the child coughed multiple times after inhaling the substance coming out of it, according to court documents.

At the end of the video, someone can be heard saying, "He does it every time," which indicates to prosecutors that it may be possible this was not the first incident of the toddler inhaling the marijuana, said Shane O'Rourke, the deputy prosecutor handling the case.

Braaten later admitted to police she gave the toddler a hit from the bong as shown in the video, according to court documents.

She said she felt "peer pressured" to give her child a hit of marijuana by the other people home at the time.

O'Rourke described the video as "disturbing," and said the boy and his sibling, a 5-year-old boy, were taken by Child Protective Services. The judge approved a no-contact order that prohibits Braaten from seeing or talking to either child.

The story, as well as the video, went viral the Monday following her arrest and court appearance. Representatives from both the prosecutor's office and the Centralia Police Department said they were inundated with phones calls and requests for copies of the video from media outlets.

Braaten's fiancé, Tyler J. Lee, was also arrested on March 8 after he admitted to growing marijuana in the residence.

The 25-year-old father was booked into jail for manufacture of marijuana and three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. Lee was later released without any formal charges filed against him.