Bestiality bust just before Christmas went viral
BOSSIER CITY, Louisiana––The animal story most often read, worldwide, during the five days before Christmas 2018 had nothing to do, so far as is known, with reindeer, and probably nothing to do with donkeys, lambs, or wise men on camels, either, though the full details are yet to be released.
At least 13,900 online media published accounts, mostly reciting the same few syndicated paragraphs, of the arrest of police officer Terry Yetman, 38, of Bossier City, Louisiana, “on warrants alleging he had sex multiple times with an animal and filmed himself doing it,” summarized Crystal Bonvillian of the Cox Media Group National Content Desk.
40 counts charged
Yetman surrendered to Louisiana State Police officers on December 19, 2018, after learning that warrants had been issued charging him with 20 counts of sexual abuse of animals by performing sexual acts with them, and 20 counts of sexual abuse of animals by filming those acts.
Yetman was jailed in lieu of $350,000 bond.
“A news release indicated that state troopers began an investigation in August 2018 after receiving a tip,” Bonvillian wrote. “The investigation led to a search warrant for electronic devices” belonging to Yetman.
Award for work with domestic violence victims
“Investigators did not specify what species of animal was involved or if multiple animals were abused,” Bonvillian said. “Additional charges are possible.”
A Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office media release recalled that Yetman in October 2018 received the Trey Hutchison Award, named for a Bossier City police officer who was killed in 2004 while responding to a domestic violence call, for “outstanding effort over the year to champion the protective rights of domestic violence victims and their families. ”
KSLA-12, a CBC affiliate in Shreveport, reported that Yetman was placed on paid administrative leave in November 2018, when the Bossier City police department learned of the state police investigation. Yetman reportedly was to remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, but the criminal charges may render the internal investigation moot.
Alternatively, the internal investigation could result in additional charges.
New, stronger law
Yetman is among the first suspects to be charged––and may be the very first charged––under a strengthened Louisiana anti-bestiality law adopted earlier in 2018.
Convicted first-time offenders may now be sentenced to serve up to five years in prison, and be fined up to $2,000.
Second and subsequent offenses may bring up to 10 years in prison plus a fine of up to $25,000.
Cop for 15 years
“I’ve been a police officer for about 10 years,” Yetman told Homer Guardian Journal editor Michelle Bates in August 2013, when he was hired for part-time duty by the Homer Police Department.
“I started my career in Haughton,” Yetman said, “and stayed there for about six years, went to the Desoto Parish Sheriff’s Office, and also to Arkansas, so I’m also certified in Arkansas.”
Yetman, wrote Bates, “is Peace Officer Specialized Training-certified, and has garnered certification in many other areas of law enforcement including sobriety field testing, SWAT (Special Weapons & Tactics), and narcotics interrogation.”
Five posts in 15 years
Yetman moved from Homer to the Bossier City police department, at least his fifth post in 15 years, in 2014.
His only known disciplinary issue, however, was a three-day suspension received in April 2016, in an incident in which Bossier Parish police juror Rick Avery was stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, and was taken to the police station for questioning, but was released without charges. A Bossier City police dispatcher was suspended for 90 days in connection with the same incident, while another police officer resigned.
Like most police officers, Yetman tended to keep himself, his family, and personal life private.
A man of his name was listed as the husband of a woman ten years older, who died in November 2008 in Stonewall, near Bossier City, leaving a son from that marriage, plus three daughters from a previous marriage.
Only two photos of Yetman with an animal have turned up on social media. The animal shown in both photos was a German shepherd police dog, now deceased.
No clear profile of perps
Data collected by ANIMALS 24-7 on 219 bestiality cases since 2005, some involving multiple suspects, indicates that the accused included 217 men and 30 women, of whom 17 of the women were charged in cases also involving men.
The suspects included many people who were clearly mentally ill, acting under the influence of alcohol and recreational drugs, but also included at least five employees of animal shelters, three school teachers and a school counselor, a prominent evangelical minister, and several other law enforcement personnel.
Only 13 women were charged in cases in which they allegedly acted alone. All 13 were charged in cases involving dogs.
Most perps caught through own videos
The male alleged offenders ranged in age from 13 to 85, with a skew in age distribution parallel to that of the U.S. as a whole. The female alleged offenders showed a similar skew in age distribution, but with the difference that 11 of the 17 woman who had male accomplices were over age 40, while three others were in the 30-39 age range, with only two younger.
More than half of the alleged perpetrators videotaped themselves, or had others videotape the acts. Over the past ten years far more alleged perpetrators videotaped themselves than not, and were caught after others saw the videos.
Animals by species & breed
The animals involved included 193 dogs altogether, of whom 97 were identified by breed. Among them were 31 pit bulls (32%), 12 German shepherds, 11 Labrador retrievers, nine Rottweilers, a variety of other large dogs, and 13 dogs of small breeds, none of whom survived the incidents, whereas most of the large dogs were believed by investigators to have been subjected to multiple sexual assaults.
Other animals involved in bestiality cases included 52 equines, seven cats, six each of goats, sheep, and cattle, three pigs, three chickens, a dolphin, an alligator, and 32 mice, 17 rabbits and a guinea pig. The mice, rabbits and guinea pig were all killed in acts by just two offenders.
The case volume indicates an increase of approximately tenfold and a shift toward victimizing dogs and small mammals since the nine-year time frame from April 1992 to April 2001, when ANIMALS 24-7 logged only 22 bestiality cases within the U.S. total, involving 20 perpetrators, who allegedly committed acts with 17 horses, 10 dogs, five cats, four cows, three sheep, and a pig.
Rarest of animal-related crimes
Bestiality remains the rarest of all criminally prosecuted animal-related offenses. More than fifty times as many individuals are charged in mass neglect cases, more than half of whom claim to be running nonprofit animal rescue projects; nearly 500 times as many animals are suffering from mass neglect at any given time.
Mass neglect cases, especially mass neglect occurring in the name of no-kill rescue, have also soared to more than ten times the shelter and rescue failure rate of the two decades 1980-1999, according to the ANIMALS 24-7 log of mass neglect cases.
But a tenfold increase in any crime is cause for societal alarm, not least because crimes detected and prosecuted are believed to represent only a small percentage of most of the crimes committed.
Explained Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary ecology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, in the February 2018 installment of his Psychology Today online column Animal Emotions, “Zoophilia and bestiality,” though the terms are often used interchangeably, “refer to different sorts of human-nonhuman sexual behavior, zoophilia describing ‘a human being who is sexually aroused or inspired by an animal’ and bestiality to ‘the act of a human having sex with a non-human animal. ‘
“The easiest way to distinguish bestiality and zoophilia is to say that bestiality is a practice — it’s something people do,” Bekoff said. “Zoophilia is a preference or experience, something people feel. Not everyone who engages in bestiality is a zoophile, and not all people who identify or would be classified as having zoophilia actually have sex with animals.
“People often use zoophilia and bestiality synonymously, but they refer to different aspects of human-animal sexual behavior,” Bekoff emphasized, speculating that “Bestiality,” recognized as a crime since Biblical times and still explicitly defined as a crime in at least 45 states, “might be easier to stop than zoophilia.”
Explosion of cases confirmed
But bestiality is proving to be very difficult to stop, even though anti-bestiality laws have been reinforced in recent years in at least 14 states.
The relative explosion of bestiality cases found by ANIMALS 24-7 parallels the separate findings of Hope for Horses executive director Jenny Edwards. Her tally of total cases over the 40-year time frame, 1978-2008, reportedly comes to 456, about two thirds of them in the past decade.
Edwards is now also a partner in the Chandler Edwards Group, “which aids law enforcement with investigating these types of cases,” explained Gregg MacDonald of the Fairfax County Times in Reston, Virginia, after Edwards assisted the prosecution of a case there in 2014.
“Internet has a lot to do with it”
“The Internet has a lot to do with it,” Edwards told MacDonald. “From the 1970s all the way to the mid 1990s, there were only 5-6 adjudicated cases per year, but then it skyrocketed,” especially after 2004.
“From 2011-2013 there were 126 adjudicated cases nationwide,” Edwards said.
But Edwards cautioned that she could not be certain from the prosecution data whether there is in fact more bestiality occurring. It is possible that bestiality is just coming to light more often, primarily because more offenders are videotaping themselves in the act, then sharing the videos with others.
Edwards began gathering information on bestiality as result of direct experience.
Recounted film critic Howard Feinstein for The Guardian in 2007, after Edwards’ work was profiled in a film documentary called Zoo, “After the police, Edwards, along with the father and brother of the deceased, was first to arrive at a farm in the small town of Enumclaw, Washington, after the demise of a 45-year-old man,” Kenneth Pinyan, “on July 2, 2005. He died, according to the coroner’s report, from’acute peritonitis … perforation of the sigmoid colon by a horse.’”
Pinyan was fatally injured while he and two other men were videotaping themselves having sex with the horse at a hobby farm that made a specialty of hosting practitioners of bestiality.
One accomplice, James Michael Tait, was in 2010 convicted, along with two other men, of a similar offense in Tennessee.
The farm owner, computer-related business entrepreneur Douglas Spink, was convicted of cocaine trafficking in November 2005, and has repeatedly been in legal trouble for both drug-related offenses and offenses pertaining to bestiality in the years since serving time on the cocaine charge.
Very little serious study had been done of the psychology of bestiality between a few questions asked by pioneering sexologist Alfred Charles Kinsey (1894-1956) during research interviews done in the late 1940s, and 2002, when Israeli-born sexologist Hani Miletski published Understanding Bestiality & Zoophilia, a book based on a survey of 82 men and 11 women who reported having a sexual interest in animals.
Miletski found that though the respondents ranged in age from 19 to 78 and came from both rural and urban areas, the majority were Caucasian men who were educated and gainfully employed. Only about half, however, had been in an intimate human relationship at some point in their lives.
By the numbers
Edwards went on to gather data from a variety of sources indicating that:
- 56% of male sex offenders, 55% of female sex offenders, 38% of child sex offenders, and 11% of rapists report having sexually abused an animal.
• 29% of prison inmates convicted of pornography-related offenses have collected animal pornography as well as child pornography. 25% of men who viewed adult pornography online also viewed animal porn.
• Zoosexuals, as practitioners of bestiality are called, typically begin at about age 13, while the average age of those who are arrested is 43.
• 35% of arrests for bestiality also involve sexual abuse or exploitation of children. About 40% of offenders have prior criminal records for violent and/or sex-related crimes.
The late Yale professor Stephen Robert Kellert (1943-2016) in the 1977 first edition of his landmark study American Attitudes Toward and Knowledge of Animals defined an attitude prevalent among recreational hunters, especially trophy hunters and trappers, that he termed “dominionism.”
Kellert described “dominionism” as an outlook in which “primary satisfactions [are] derived from mastery or control over animals.”
Kellert himself redefined “dominionism” in later editions of American Attitudes Toward and Knowledge of Animals, and downplayed the significance of his findings about hunters throughout the rest of his life. Other investigators, however, later extended recognition of “dominionistic” behavior to include the exercise of “mastery or control” over women and children.
That dominionism might be the primary motivation behind bestiality would bring Kellert’s observation around full circle to human attitudes toward animals.