Animal Advocates File Brief in Federal Appeal of Controversial “Crush” Video CasePosted on August 29, 2013
Animal Legal Defense Fund Argues for Prosecution of Houston Puppy and Kitten Torturers
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
HOUSTON — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), along with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a landmark federal case against a couple accused of making animal torture videos for viewers’ sexual arousal—also known as “crush” films. Last August, defendants Ashley and Brent Wayne Justice were arrested in Houston and charged with violating the “Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010” (“the Act”) by producing and selling obscene videos of Richards torturing dogs, cats, and other animals. On April 27, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake, in the Southern District of Texas, ruled that the conduct in the videos was not obscene and the Act infringed upon the First Amendment rights of the defendants. Last Friday, federal prosecutors filed an appeal with the Fifth Circuit. ALDF’s amicus brief supports this appeal, arguing the Act is limited in scope to obscene videos of animal torture for the sexual gratification of viewers. The brief also argues that obscene animal torture does not warrant First Amendment protection under the definition of obscenity articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to ALDF, these custom-ordered videos are intended for the sexual pleasure of viewers and constitute “obscene” criminal animal cruelty. In one such video, a provocatively dressed Richards strangles and steps on a screaming cat. Richards inserts a dagger into the cat’s anus, rips his skin off, chops off his paws with a cleaver, pulls out internal organs, urinates and spits on the animal, articulates sexual slurs, and then chops his head off.
“Animals are horrifically victimized in these videos for the sexual gratification of paying customers,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Constitution does not protect the vile industry of animal abusers who profit from the obscene suffering of sentient beings.”
Copies of the amicus brief are available upon request.