Sexual Abuse of Animals, Bodily Integrity and Property Rights

Bridget Crawford

The New York Daily News reports here that a Long Beach (New York) man twice sexually assaulted a dog:

[The accused] entered the apartment in the house he owned and sexually assaulted the male dog, a 23-pound Shiba Inu named Snowball, prosecutors said.

They said the tenants called authorities after seeing the latest assault Thursday.

The other assault took place Oct. 12. * * * Snowball was examined at a nearby animal hospital and showed signs of trauma, including injuries to his legs consistent with being roughly restrained.

According to another news report (here), the accused man “used to own the dog but gave it to his tenants, who contacted authorities after reportedly walking in on [the accused] sexually abusing the dog in their own apartment.”  Did the tenants contact authorities only after the second incident?  Why did they turn a blind eye to abuse of any kind?  

According to the news reports, the two charges in the case are burglary and sexual misconduct.  The maximum sentences?  15 years for the burglary and 1 year for sexual misconduct.

Here’s how New York defines “sexual misconduct”:

A person is guilty of sexual misconduct when:

1. He or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person without such person’s consent; or

2. He or she engages in oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct with another person without such person’s consent; or

3. He or she engages in sexual conduct with an animal or a dead human body.

Sexual misconduct is a class A misdemeanor.

N.Y. Penal Law § 130.20 (McKinney 2010).

One salutary aspect of the New York law is its characterization of animals as other than (more than?) “just property” in this conduct.  In other words, engaging in sexual conduct with “mere property” is not a misdemeanor (otherwise, lots of good citizens would be saying goodbye to their vibrators et al.).  New York recognizes that sexual conduct with an animal is something other than a property offense; it is an offense against a sentient being (if read generously) or a grotesque act of moral deviance (if read more narrowly), on par with sexual abuse of a corpse.  Curiously, though, it is the property transgression that is treated more seriously (the accused could serve up to 15 years in jail) than the sexual misconduct is.  In this case, at least, the law appears to value property more than bodily integrity — for humans or for animals.

4 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pace Law Library, Animal Blawg. Animal Blawg said: Sexual Abuse of Animals, Bodily Integrity and Property Rights […]

  2. Interesting that animals and dead humans appear in the same sentence, conferring upon them some sort of similarity. Reminds me of an ad I saw for a local sporting good store–advertising a particular gun good for “varmint or target shooting,” as if a living, breathing, sentient coyote or prairie dog were the equivalent of a paper target or a tin can. Or a human corpse.

  3. […] — Droopy [1] Why property transgressions are treated more severely than bestiality? […]

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