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January 7, 2011

What is a "very appropriate" sentence for sexual assault of animals?

The question in the title of this post is inspired by this remarkable state sentencing story from Oregon, headlined "Woman sentenced for animal sex abuse."  Here are the unpleasant details:

A Jefferson woman was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in jail and 60 months of supervised probation after pleading guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault of an animal and criminal mistreatment.

Marion County Judge Mary James also ordered Rachel Petterson to undergo a sex offender evaluation and any treatment recommended as a result of that evaluation. She will not have to register as a sex offender.

Petterson and her now ex-husband, Sam Petterson, were arrested in April on allegations of sexual assault of an animal after police found home video of them sexually assaulting dogs.

Rachel Petterson also was charged with criminal mistreatment, and Sam Petterson was charged with child pornography, including encouraging child sex abuse and using children in display of sexually explicit conduct.  He was sentenced five months ago to 43 years in prison.

Judge James' sentencing also prohibits Rachel Petterson from owning or having contact with domestic animals and from having any contact with Sam Petterson.  "Truly, what you did was put your children in incredible and great danger," the judge told Rachel Petterson during the sentencing.  "What you did is of significant concern to this court and the community.  This will follow you throughout your life."...

Courtland Geyer, a deputy district attorney with the Marion County District Attorney's Office, said the office was pleased with the outcome of the hearing.  "We believe the sentence was very appropriate," he said.

I have posted this story in part because I think the shame of this offense and sentence may be even more important and consequential than the short jail time. In addition, my ivory-tower instincts cannot help but make me wonder whether the defendant here might challenge on constitutional grounds the part of the sentence that prohibits her "from owning or having contact with domestic animals."  Does this mean she now may not ever visit friends or family who own a cat?

January 7, 2011 at 03:17 PM | Permalink

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Comments

lol yea i can see it now.

"Animal Sex Crime offenders are prohibited from living or working within 2,000ft of a petsmart, pet hospital, aspca facility or any home that has a pet or any location were they congragage!"

converted from the very same assisine rules for regular sex offenders!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 7, 2011 10:40:11 PM

Less a criminal justice issue than a psychiatric problem,imo.

Posted by: Tim Rudisill | Jan 8, 2011 8:02:32 AM

If the animal enjoyed the sex, then this prosecution is a biased speciesist expression of fear and loathing for sexuality, in a long list of wrongheaded lawyer oppression of sexual expression, between races, between homosexuals. If the animal was an adult, then Lawrence v Texas should apply, and this prosecution is lawless.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 8, 2011 10:22:55 PM

I don't know why the contact with animals rule would have any more constitutional problems than other requirements involving keeping contact with children or certain types of people in various contexts.

The article noted:

"Rachel Petterson also was charged with criminal mistreatment, and Sam Petterson was charged with child pornography, including encouraging child sex abuse and using children in display of sexually explicit conduct. He was sentenced five months ago to 43 years in prison."

She was involved in a pretty serious business here. The article has a picture of her too. Talk about shaming.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 9, 2011 12:53:10 PM

I find it interesting that it is perfectly legal, and in many areas of this country it is considered quite respectable, to kill animals for sport. Though having sex with one carries a prison term. Not sure what the moral distinction is.

Posted by: Adam | Jan 9, 2011 9:06:26 PM

@Joe

Pretty serious business? Mistreatment?

Can anyone prove the act[s} did the animal harm, or that the animal did not enjoy it? Was Dr. Dolittle called to testify?

Posted by: Huh? | Jan 11, 2011 10:08:40 PM

I am Brian, paralegal student. The verdict is quite appreciable. This is also a good lesson for our society. I am very much optimistic about the judgment.

Posted by: George Allen | Jan 12, 2011 2:10:43 AM

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