The term “affluenza” can refer to rich kids who were so spoiled rotten that they’ve lost all empathy for other human beings. The word has even been used in court to defend them when they commit a crime. Their lawyers’ rationale is that that these rich kids are so sheltered and privileged that they have absolutely no idea how horrible their actions truly are.
The reality of the situation is that someone who is born with so much wealth and power knows that they can get away with just about anything. More often than not, they face a different justice system than other, less moneyed individuals. Just throw enough money at your legal troubles, and they’ll go away—even if you’re charged with murder.
10 Janepob Verraporn
In March 2016, two graduate students in their early thirties were driving in the slow lane on an empty highway in Bangkok, Thailand. Suddenly, a black Mercedes hit them from behind at 240 kilometers per hour (150 mph). Their car burst into flames, killing them almost instantly. The crash was captured on a security camera, and it’s difficult to imagine how anyone could have hit the grad students’ car, unless they were completely inebriated.
The owner of the Mercedes was Janepob Verraporn, the 37-year-old son of a wealthy businessman who sells luxury vehicles. His car flipped after the collision, but other than that, he only had a few scratches. All it takes is a phone call to daddy to get a new car. When the police arrived, he told them who his father was and refused to take a sobriety test. They let him get away with it. Later, someone posted a second security video of Janepob’s Mercedes crashing through a toll booth at high speeds only an hour before the crash, proving that he was on a dangerous joyride all day long.
At the hospital, Verraporn was charged with reckless driving, but all it took was 200,000 baht (about $5,700) to pay for bail. Without the sobriety test, it was too late convict him of drunk driving, which would have forced him to be responsible for the deaths of the two grad students. Social media in Thailand exploded with angry citizens saying that Verraporn used his wealth and social status to get away with murder. A public relations employee for the national police publicly denied that Verraporn had an unfair advantage, saying that justice will be served. However, as of two years later, Verraporn has yet to face any jail time for his crime.
9 Robert H. Richards IV
The du Ponts are a massively wealthy family in Delaware that is practically American royalty. They made their fortune from chemicals, and every generation is so rich that they never have to work a day in their life. Robert H. Richards IV was one of the heirs to the fortune. In 2009, he was arrested for raping his three-year-old daughter and sexually abusing his son. When he appeared in court, his lawyer claimed that the publicity from the case would be harmful to the children and that Richard shouldn’t be sent to jail. He claimed that since Richards was so soft from his pampered lifestyle, he wouldn’t survive the rough environment of prison.
That pathetically weak defense actually worked. What should have been an eight-year prison sentence was reduced to probation and psychological treatment. Despite the fact that the punishment was such a slap on the wrist, Richards completely ignored the judge’s orders and didn’t even go in for a single therapy session.
8 W.H.K. Boonwaat
Becoming a foreign ambassador isn’t the sort of job that most people can just go to school and work hard to achieve without having preexisting political connections. Most of them were born into diplomatic families and lived a jet set lifestyle of luxury all their lives. Ambassadors live in mansions with servants. On top of that, diplomats can enjoy the privilege of not being responsible for abiding by the laws of the country they are visiting.
In 1967, a Burmese diplomat named W.H.K. Boonwaat was 50 years old and working as an ambassador in Sri Lanka. He took that privilege as far as it would go by killing his young, beautiful wife on foreign soil and cremating her body in order to prevent an autopsy. In the end, diplomatic immunity protected him from going to jail, and he got away with murdering his wife.
7 Robert Durst
Robert Durst is the son of a wealthy New York real estate tycoon. He was suspected of killing three people, including his wife, Kathleen. Every time he was questioned by authorities, he claimed that he was just very unlucky and that death followed him everywhere. He could afford to hire the best lawyers, who allowed him to get away with murder multiple times. There was even a movie called All Good Things based on him because so many people knew he must be guilty, yet no one could prove it in court.
Durst was so confident in his deceptions that he agreed to allow filmmakers from HBO to interview him for a documentary series called The Jinx. On the show, he went to the bathroom and mumbled to himself. He admitted that he did, in fact, commit murder. He forgot that his mic was on. Once the confession was captured, FBI agents found him in New Orleans and arrested him for first-degree murder at 72 years old.
6 Issei Sagawa
Issei Sagawa was born prematurely to wealthy Japanese parents. He was physically weak, so his parents pampered their sickly son his entire life. He began to develop a cannibalistic fetish for white women as early as elementary school. When he was 23, he broke into a German woman’s house to try to eat her, but the police arrested him for attempted rape, instead. His parents paid for his bail, of course, and continued to ignore his serious issues. In fact, a few years later, they practically rewarded him by sending him to study abroad in Paris, where he was surrounded by all the white girls he could ever want. Eventually, he convinced one of them, a Dutch woman named Renee Hartevelt, to become friends with him.
Not surprisingly, Renee became Issei’s first victim in 1981. He shot her in the back of the head and then carved up her body and ate her flesh over the course of several days. Sagawa had no problem admitting to the French police exactly what he did. He told them very matter-of-factly that he wanted to eat a woman. A psychologist in France claimed that he was insane and unfit to stand trial. Sagawa was deported to Japan. Authorities attempted to try him for murder in Japanese court, but French officials refused to hand over any documents about the case. He got away with murder and cannibalism.
Issei Sagawa had no issues divulging every excruciating detail during an interview with Vice. He didn’t offer any apologies for Renee’s family and didn’t seem to regret his actions at all. The only thing he regrets is that it made his life more difficult, saying, “You can’t imagine how difficult it is to live under surveillance from society.” He even asked Vice to advertise for him to find a Japanese woman who was willing to let him eat her. Issei Sagawa now makes a living off of the many books he has written about his fetish as well as his parents’ support.
5 Leopold And Loeb
Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold Jr. were two rich teenage students who were so smart that they were attending college early. They clearly thought a lot of themselves and very little of other human beings because they murdered a 14-year-old boy named Robert Franks. The motive? They thought they were so smart that they could pull off the perfect crime without getting caught. They were wrong, of course. When they were on trial, the public was practically breaking down the doors, rioting for them to receive the death penalty.
Leopold and Loeb’s lawyer blamed their behavior on their parents, saying that they were so spoiled at such a young age that they had no idea what to do with their privilege. He also tried to blame it on Friedrich Nietzsche, saying that the boys had been influenced by his philosophy. It worked. The judge sentenced the duo to life in prison. When they arrived, the boys demanded to have steaks delivered to their cells.
4 Orachorn Thephasadin Na Ayudhya
In 2010, a 17-year-old girl named Orachorn Thephasadin Na Ayudhya was driving a car without a driver’s license. She was texting and driving, which is why she slammed into the back of a passenger van that was carrying 14 people. Nine of them died, and the rest were seriously injured. Orachorn didn’t seem to care that the bodies of her victims were lying on the street. She casually plopped her designer purse on the ground and pulled out her cell phone to continue texting next to the wrecked vehicles. Someone snapped a photo, and it became an icon of the growing epidemic of sociopathic rich kids living in Bangkok.
Orachorn was originally only going to get a three-year prison sentence for reckless driving without a license, but her lawyers were so good at their jobs that they somehow managed to reduce it down to probation and community service, simply because she was very “cooperative.” They didn’t put a time limit on her community service, so she took her time. It took her a ridiculous six years to complete just 138 hours of community service. Even so, she reportedly complained about her work in the emergency ward of a hospital. The families of the victims have attempted to sue her, but her family’s lawyers have kept them at bay.
3 Peter Brant Jr.
When your parents are a billionaire businessman and a supermodel, it must be easy to think you’re above the rules. However, not all that glitters is gold for Peter Brant Jr. The Brants don’t exactly seem to have a warm and loving family life. In 2011, Peter got into an argument with his mom because he was upset that she bailed on their plans to spend time together. How did she respond to his cries for love? By calling the cops on him. The officers reportedly said he was actually being very civil during the fight.
At the JFK Airport in March 2016, Peter Brant Jr. decided to get completely wasted. A security guard approached him for being too drunk, and instead of apologizing for his behavior, he decided to punch the guard the the face. He was arrested, but with his status, that doesn’t mean he’s spending any time in jail for assault. Just a couple of days later, he posted on Instagram with his friend about traveling again.
2 Vorayuth Yoovidhya
Vorayuth Yoovidhya is the heir to a massive fortune amassed by his father, who owns the energy drink company Red Bull. At an estimated $12.5 billion, they are the fourth-wealthiest family in all of Thailand. In 2012, Yoovidhya was speeding in his Ferrari when he ran over a police officer who was on a motorcycle. Yoovidhya didn’t even try to stop the car. He sped off, leaving behind the wreckage and the dead man in a heartless hit-and-run.
A sobriety test confirmed that Yoovidhya was, in fact, drinking and driving. His parents paid for his bail, and the family’s lawyers were incredibly skilled at delaying his day in court with a mountain of paperwork. This bought Yoovidhya enough time to disappear. The police attempted to put out an order for his arrest, but they can’t find him, because he uses the family’s private jet to live in foreign countries. Yoovidhya isn’t exactly in hiding. He flaunts his luxurious lifestyle living in London, yet he has never been arrested.
1 Ethan Couch
At just 16 years old, Ethan Couch’s parents left him to live alone in their mansion. With plenty of money and absolute freedom, he threw parties in the house on a regular basis. One night in 2014, he was drunk driving and killed four people.
Couch’s lawyer claimed that he was suffering from affluenza. He was so pampered that he couldn’t even comprehend the consequences of his actions. If anything, he was a victim of his parents’ neglect. The judge ate it up, and Ethan Couch didn’t go to jail. He was sentenced to ten years of probation and ordered to go to rehab.
The lack of any real punishment sparked a public outcry against white privilege. Despite the fact that he got off so easy, Couch violated his probation. He dyed his hair black, grew a beard, and tried to run away to live in Mexico to avoid jail time. So, at 19 years old, he was finally sent to prison. The only downside was that it is only a two-year sentence.
Shannon Quinn is a writer and entrepreneur from the Philadelphia area.