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Judge: No Proof Cows 'Tormented' By Oral Sex

This has to be the strangest legal story I have read in a long time, if not ever. In New Jersey, a judge has dismissed charges against a former police officer accused of engaging in oral sex with calves. The reason the judge dismissed the charges: He had no way of knowing how the calves felt about the encounters.

To be fair, the judge's point was not that the sex may have been consensual. You see, New Jersey has no law against bestiality. Instead, prosecutors charged the officer, Robert Melia Jr., with animal cruelty. That crime requires proof that the animal was "tormented." Melia's attorney, Mark Catanzaro, filed a motion to dismiss the charges, claiming it was impossible for anyone to know how the cows felt about having his client's penis in their mouths.

Superior Court Judge James J. Morley agreed that he could not look into the mind of a cow. "If the Legislature wants to make bestiality a crime, which it was once, so be it," he said. "It's not the prosecutor's office's job to outlaw what the Legislature hasn't. In order for it to be a crime, you have to establish if you tormented the animal, we're talking beating or disfiguring."

"I'm not saying it's OK," the judge added. "This is a legal question for me. It's not a question of morals. It's not a question of hygiene. It's not a question of how people should conduct themselves."

The prosecutor was not happy with the dismissal of the charges. "I think any reasonable juror could infer that a man's penis in the mouth of a calf is torment," a Burlington County assistant prosecutor, Kevin Morgan, is reported to have said. "It's a crime against nature."

Melia's bovine misbehavior came to light when investigators were investigating him and his girlfriend on suspicion of molesting three minor girls. When police raided his home in 2008, they found video showing him having sex with the calves in 2006. The former Moorestown police officer still faces sexual assault charges for molesting the underage girls.

The incident no doubt leaves many with a bad taste in the mouth. But for Bridget Crawford at Animal Blawg, it leaves her wondering, "Why don't calves deserve protection from sexual predators? It doesn't make any sense." That is a question that could leave legislators, at least in New Jersey, chewing the cud for some time to come.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 29, 2009 at 12:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

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