The Humane Society of the United States lauded U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Kenneth Magidson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Lynn Zack for initiating the first felony prosecution under the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010. The statute bans the creation and distribution of obscene animal torture videos that show the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating or impaling of puppies, kittens and other live animals for the titillation of viewers. Championed by Reps. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., the legislation had overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress.
The five-page indictment handed down Thursday charges Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice with producing eight videos that allegedly involve the torture and killing of puppies, chickens and kittens. Richards and Justice face five counts under the animal crush law and two counts under the obscenity statute. The two are also facing state animal cruelty charges, which were filed earlier this year. In August, The HSUS contacted U.S. Attorney Magidson, urging that federal charges be filed under the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act as well.
“The Humane Society of the United States commends U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Lynn Zack for working to end some of the most gruesome cruelty any of us have ever witnessed,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “When federal courts struck down the 1999 animal cruelty depictions law, we saw a resurgence of animal crush videos. Congress swiftly passed more narrowly-tailored legislation to crack down on this horrific trade while addressing the courts’ concerns. We are thankful that countless animals will now be spared from intentional torture for sick entertainment and profit.”
Animal crush videos typically involve scantily-clad women or girls often using stiletto heels to inflict torment to satisfy a sexual deviancy for viewers. The torture is intentionally drawn out for many minutes or even hours, during which time the animals’ cries and squeals are featured, along with their excretions of blood, urine and organs as they are crushed to death. In April 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the l999 law on depictions of animal cruelty was “overbroad” because it might criminalize some Constitutionally protected speech. The Court acknowledged the long history of animal protection laws in the United States and left open a pathway for Congress to pass a more targeted law aimed at extreme animal cruelty. In the fall of 2010, Congress passed and the president signed H.R. 5566, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010, which banned the creation and distribution of obscene animal torture videos.
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