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May 13, 2009

Unusual porn case leads to 33-month sentence after rejected deal for shorter term

As noted in this post from a few weeks ago, an unusual porn case from Indiana had prompted a federal district judge to reject a plea agreement that had called for a below-guideline sentence for a defendant who clearly has some mental issues.  As this new local article highlights, the case has now produced a sentence:

A Hobart man who twice served time for killing animals now will spend nearly three years in federal prison for downloading images of people having sex with animals. Michael Bessigano likely will serve his sentence in a Boston-area facility for male offenders with mental problems.

U.S. Judge Philip Simon on Tuesday sentenced Bessigano to 33 months in prison and three years of supervised release, a term at the low end of federal guidelines. Simon two weeks ago threw out a plea agreement that would have seen Bessigano serve only 24 months, stating that Bessigano's history did not seem to make him a candidate for a below-guidelines sentence....

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernard Van Wormer said the sentence was appropriate for Bessigano, who served time prison for killing a neighbor's rottweiler in St. John Township in 1993, and was jailed again in 2001 for killing a chicken, and having sex with it.

He was badly beaten in the Porter County Jail while awaiting sentencing in 2001, and has been in and out of psychological treatment for schizophrenia since childhood, his mother has said. Bessigano has told investigators in the past that he believes he is an animal trapped in a human's body.

I am starting to wonder if there is some weird Lost-like karma around the number 33 in the federal sentencing system.  In addition to being the number of months given to Bessigano for downloading animal porn, it is also the term given to federal judge Samuel Kent earlier this week and the term that  served by Victor Rita, the defendant whose within-guideline sentence was affirmed in the first big post-Booker federal sentencing ruling by SCOTUS.

Speaking of Lost, I am really worried that tonight's season finale will produce still more build-up and still too little delivery.  But I hope I am wrong.

May 13, 2009 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

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Comments

First of all, a question--what is the offense here specifically? Is is a violation of 18 U.S.C. 48, depiction of animal cruelty? And why was this picked up federally instead of being handled locally? Because it was his third offense?

Second, apparently, there is some Indiana/chicken tie as Mr. Bessigano has not been the first Hoosier State man to get in trouble for an intimate relationship with a chicken. I just took a little research break and discovered Murray v. State, 238 Ind. 688 (1957)(where the defendant's sodomy with a chicken conviction and 2-15 year sentence were upheld on appeal). The defendant in Murray had been convicted specifically of an "abominable and detestable crime against nature with a beast," and he claimed on appeal that a "fowl" was not within the statutory definition of "beast." But this did not fly (hehe) with the Indiana Supreme Court which held that "beast" was a generic term including any living animal. Id. at 694. I'm sure that the Murray Court was thankful for even older bird-relations caselaw from England on which to rely. See Reg. v. Brown (1889), 24 Q.B.Div. 357, 358 (involving sodomy with a duck).

But, in perspective, old chicken-loving Murray back in 1957 was looking at 2-15 years so Bessigano's 33 months in 2009 seems pretty reasonable to me.

Posted by: Gov'tGirl | May 13, 2009 1:38:17 PM

why was this picked up federally instead of being handled locally?

I suspect the feds were the ones that found it, given the comparatively significant resources dedicated to it during the Bush years. At that point, a prosecutor saw the chance for a fairly easy notch-in-the-belt, so he figured, "Why should I let the state have it?" Also, I suspect that the state sentence would have been lower.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | May 13, 2009 2:01:09 PM

The charge appears to be receiving obscenity. The obscenity just happened to be depicting bestiality. Really though, charging someone for receiving obscene material seems like a waste of resources, and contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the First Amendment. Haven't seen how they caught him, maybe he was doing it in public or something, but if it was entirely private, the sentance is unjust. He sounds like a deeply troubled individual in need of help, but this certainly wont help him

Posted by: Monty | May 13, 2009 2:29:38 PM

It says he was sentenced for downloading, which almost certainly means he did it in the privacy of his own home. I believe the Feds get these guys when they shut down a site, then subpoena the records that show who their customers are.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | May 13, 2009 2:34:16 PM

So this is why the beleaguered FBI needs another 800 agents to keep up with financial crimes.

Posted by: John K | May 14, 2009 10:44:28 AM

LOL CHICKEN FUCKER

Posted by: ANONUMOUSLEE | Nov 18, 2009 1:24:12 AM

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