Sentenced mainly for child porn possession
GONZALES, Louisiana––Technically Wilson Longanecker Jr., 43, formerly mayor of Sorrento, Louisiana, was not sentenced on January 19, 2016 to serve life in prison for making “crush” videos showing himself torturing cats in a variety of ways.
Technically 23rd Judicial District Judge Jessie LeBlanc sentenced Longanecker to serve “only” 40 years. And technically only four of the 47 counts to which Longanecker pleaded guilty were for aggravated animal cruelty. Forty-two counts were for possession of child pornography, including of children involved in acts of bestiality; one count was for obstruction of justice. Three further counts of aggravated animal cruelty were dropped as part of Longanecker’s plea bargain agreement.
Not charged under federal law
Because Longanecker was not producing “crush” videos for sale and not distributing them across state lines, he was not charged under the federal Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010.
And Longanecker may not serve all of his time at the notorious Angola state penitentiary, known as “The Alcatraz of the South.”
But Longanecker might be spending the rest of his life in prison, and did receive the stiffest sentence meted out yet to a U.S. “crush” video maker.
“Longanecker was arrested on October 23, 2014, after the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office and other law enforcement agencies searched his home as part of a state Cyber Crime Unit investigation and found child pornography videos on his electronic equipment,” summarized David J. Mitchell of the Baton Rouge Advocate.
“Later forensic analysis turned up videos and images of cat torture and abuse on those electronic devices as well, according to an affidavit of probable cause,” Mitchell continued.
A former Sorrento town council member and son of a former town mayor, Longanecker “served as mayor from mid-2011 to mid-2013,” Mitchell recalled. “He took a six-month hiatus from February to August 2012 while on medical leave for a problem with his foot and related ailments.”
Life sentence in Philippines
The only longer sentence on record in a “crush” video case was meted out to former commercial “crush” video makers Victor Ridon and Chita Dorma Ridon, his wife. The Ridons, the first people in the Philippines to be convicted of similar offenses, were on September 28, 2014 convicted of human trafficking and sentenced to life in prison in the northern Philippines city of San Fernando.
“The Ridons,” who lived in Bacnotan, La Union, “were arrested in 2011 and put on trial in 2012,” recounted Agence France-Presse, “following a complaint by PETA. The court found the couple had forced several babysitters, including one aged 12 and a 16-year-old, to perform in dozens of ‘crush fetish’ videos. The two minors testified against the couple, who were also given prison terms of between two and 15 years for child abuse and cruelty to animals.”
“They were also fined a total of 9.91 million pesos ($221 000) each,” Agence France-Presse reported.
Arrested in mid-2011, the Ridons were believed to have sold “crush videos” via web links to customers in the U.S., France, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, and Britain.
The offenses for which the Ridons were convicted occurred chiefly in 2008 and 2009. Killed by various cruel means were sea snakes, chicks, rabbits, guinea pigs, a puppy, dogs, frogs, rats, and a monkey.
U.S. legislation since 1999
The U.S. has had seldom-used federal legislation against distributing “crush” videos for all but a few months since the passage of the 1999 Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act.
Meant to strengthen the penalties against offenses which had drawn only misdemeanor convictions against four alleged perpetrators in California and in Suffolk County, New York, the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act was first tested in the 2004 prosecution in Pennsylvania of Robert G. Stevens, a Virginia resident, for selling videotapes of Japanese dogfighting and “hog/dog rodeo,” in which dogs––usually pit bulls or Patterdale terriers––are set upon pigs.
Stevens was convicted in 2005, but appealed. In April 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act as excessively broad. This obliged prosecutors to drop a case brought against Jarrod Hayn, of Kampsville, Missouri, for allegedly selling videos of himself roadkilling deer.
The 2010 law
This brought passage of the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010, endorsed into law later in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 specificially bans interstate distribution of videos showing “actual conduct in which one or more living animal is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, or impaled in a manner that would violate a criminal prohibition on cruelty to animals.”
The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 law exempts videos showing hunting, trapping, fishing, or any typical veterinary or agricultural husbandry practices.
The 2010 law, however, was on April 17, 2013 held unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, of Houston, Texas.
Lake, the first judge to consider Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 case, wrote that it “abridges the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment,” creating “a criminal prohibition of alarming breadth,” which is “therefore unconstitutional.”
The Lake ruling obliged U.S. federal prosecutors to drop a series of obscenity charges filed in October 2012 against alleged “crush video” producers Ashley Nicole Richards, 22, and Brent Wayne Justice, 51.
But the charges were reinstated on June 13, 2014 by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned the Lake verdict.
Richards and Justice then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court in March 2015 declined to review the verdict.