This is another case of “just when you think you’ve seen/heard it all…” 5 Virginia Department of Corrections officers have been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty – punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine – involving the fondling of a K-9 dog and videotaping two incidents. They are:
- Kelvin Thompson, 25, who works at Green Rock Correctional Center in Chatham;
- Melvin Boone, 40, who worked at the state prison in Sussex County;
- Adam R. Webb, 27, and Cheri Campbell, 35, who work at Nottoway Correctional Center; and
- Anthony Eldridge, 33, a sergeant who worked at Nottoway.
2 of the 5 charged, Melvin Boone and Anthony Eldridge, no longer work with the state. The Department of Corrections acknowledged that the matter had been investigated internally but declined to say whether Eldridge and Boone were terminated or left voluntarily. The department also would not say whether the other three were on leave. Trial is set for Nov. 20 for all except Webb, who will be tried Dec. 11.
Kelvin Thompson is accused of having “some sexual contact” with the dog – a male German shepherd or shepherd mix – while being videotaped by his fellow officers.
“Essentially, he was touching the dog’s penis with his hand,” Attorney Robert B. Beasley Jr. said. “The others were there filming it. That’s actually how we learned of it — there’s a video.”
Another corrections employee saw the video and reported it to a superior, Beasley said. The events occurred between June 16 and Aug. 1, according to arrest warrants. All five officers were charged Oct. 2 by summons.
Apparently Kelvin Thompson was told that massaging his dog’s genitals, would somehow make the animal easier to train. Dog trainers say that’s obviously “not” a normal method of training but it is not unheard of:
“It has been used previously with very aggressive dogs to make them more submissive and passive, because it exhausts the dog but it’s an inappropriate way of training dogs,” said animal trainer Jemi Hodge.
Terry N. Grimes, Thompson’s attorney, said his client planned to plead not guilty but admitted to fondling the animal. Grimes suggested the prosecution would have a difficult time proving animal cruelty. “The statute is not set up to deal with this type of thing. I don’t think the legislature quite had this in mind,” he said.
“Animal cruelty is conduct that is tantamount to torture. That inflicts pain. That puts the animal at risk of loss of life,” said legal analyst Steve Benjamin.
In Virginia, bestiality is covered by crimes against nature, which could have resulted in a felony charge, according to state statutes. But a felony charge requires “carnal knowledge” of a “brute beast,” implying intercourse, said Beasley, who added that he consulted with the state veterinarian’s office before filing the charges.
Even if prosecutors do not win on the animal cruelty charges they may have another motive: Embarrassment.
“The embarrassment factor alone is going to be sufficient punishment for these individuals,” said Steve Benjamin.
Even though what these officers did to their K-9 dog is no laughing matter and may still result in jail time, there is this episode from the series South Park that takes an irreverent and comedic look at this topic. Thanks to Mizozo.com I found this clip:
South Park – Red Rocket Video
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