Man acquitted of cruelty charges

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 12, 2006

After pleading not guilty to cruelty to animal charges in June, Henry Lewis left the court a free man subsequent to facing Judge Wade Drinkard in court Tuesday afternoon.

In May, Lewis was caught having sexual intercourse with a six-week-old pony and when the animal died a few days later, the owner believed the death was a result of Lewis’ actions.

But since there are no state laws prohibiting bestiality and acts thereof, the prosecution – which in this case was district attorney Greg Griggers – had to prove the pony died as a direct result of Lewis’ actions in order for the charges to stick.

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“Unfortunately we had very little evidence to prove that what he did caused pain and/or death to the animal,” Griggers said. “We just didn’t have proof and he was acquitted of the cruelty to animal charges.”

Although PETA cruelty caseworker Stephanie Bell said “studies show that offenders who commit bestiality often go on to commit sex crimes against humans,” Lewis was set free after sitting silently through his trial.

“He plead not guilty during his plea docket (in June) and that was it,” Griggers said. “He didn’t testify in court and he didn’t have to do anything but sit there. We didn’t hear a testimony or any kind of statement from him.”

According to Griggers, Lewis still hadn’t admitted to having intercourse with the pony, although two witnesses claimed to have caught him in the act.

Although his side lost the case, Griggers said he understands why Drinkard made the decision.

“The case was about cruelty to animals and proving that he killed the pony. It wasn’t about him having sex with an animal,” Griggers said, “and we couldn’t prove that.”

Had he been convicted of the charges, Bell requested that Lewis spend a period of time in prison, and that he be required to undergo a thorough psychological evaluation followed by mandatory counseling.

Bell also suggested that any animals in Lewis’ possession be taken away and that the courts to prohibit Lewis from having animals in his custody for any amount of time.

However, since the charges were dropped, Bell advises that the community follow this case closely

“Anyone capable of this kind of cruelty,” Bell said, “poses a definitive risk to the entire community.”