More than a dozen young adults who were at the October underage drinking party where 17-year-old Taylor Meyer of Plainville was last seen alive must take part in a drug- and alcohol-awareness program, in addition to fulfilling other requirements, a Wrentham District Court judge ordered Thursday.

More than a dozen young adults who were at the October underage drinking party where 17-year-old Taylor Meyer of Plainville was last seen alive must take part in a drug- and alcohol-awareness program, in addition to fulfilling other requirements, a Wrentham District Court judge ordered Thursday.


Fourteen people ranging in age from 17 to 20 appeared before Judge Warren Powers for a probable cause hearing, each facing a charge of underage possession of alcohol, said David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William Keating.


All were charged following the Oct. 17 post-Homecoming party at the former Norfolk Airport. Meyer, who wandered away from the group, became lost, and drowned in an adjacent wetland. Her blood alcohol level was .13, according to autopsy findings.


The requirement to attend the Gateway program, affiliated with the Brains at Risk initiative of the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, is part of a plea deal proposed by Keating, Traub said. Each defendant must pay the $50 fee to attend the program, to which district attorneys and court officials throughout the state often make referrals as a condition of probation or an alternative to formal sentencing.


The 14 young people must also attend five Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, attend six meetings of the Norfolk District Attorney's diversion program - an alternative to formal probation often assigned to first-time, underage offenders - and perform 16 hours of community service, Traub said.


The requirements must be fulfilled by the end of June. In exchange, they will not be arraigned on the underage possession charges. All 14 agreed to enter this alternative program.


As long as they complete and document the requirements, Carroll said, "the complaint will be withdrawn ... meaning they will have no record with regards to this charge," said Norfolk Police Lt. Jon Carroll.


Traub said Keating and others felt strongly this alternative to further court proceedings would have more impact than guilty findings for underage possession of alcohol, which carries only a maximum fine of $50 and no jail time.


"Rather than going simply for the financial impact, we're looking to impact their behavior," Traub said. "The district attorney said that a lot of teenagers will drop $50 just on a video game and the impact of that (kind of monetary penalty) really resonating (with the teens) is an open question."


He said the program will make the individuals more aware of "the later consequences of actions associated with this kind of drinking."


Being handled separately are the cases of Brian Zuzick, 19, of Plainville, and Sean Flynn, 21, of North Attleborough. They are charged with procuring the alcohol Meyer and a classmate drank at the party.


Meyer's death threw the problem of underage drinking into an intense media spotlight. Authorities in Essex County are trying to determine if alcohol played a role in the death Sunday of 16-year-old Elizabeth Mun of Wellesley. Mun, who wandered away from a party at an Andover home early that morning, was found in a nearby pond. She died hours later at Children's Hospital in Boston.


Heather McCarron can be reached at hmccarro@cnc.com.