Five Virginia corrections officers stand accused of animal cruelty, following a bizarre sexual act involving a K-9 dog. But attorneys believe prosecutors will have a tough time making the charges stick.
There's a kennel, at the Powhatan Correctional Center, where officers learn how to become K-9 handlers. But prosecutors say, at least twice this summer, a dog was being handled...inappropriately.
Cruelty charges were filed against 25-year-old Kelvin Thompson and four others, after Thompson was told...massaging his dog's genitals, would somehow make the animal easier to train. The incidents were videotaped, and later reported to a supervisor by another corrections employee.
Dog trainers say that's obviously "not" a normal method of training.
"It has been used previously with very aggressive dogs to make them more submissive and passive, because it exhausts the dog but it's an inappropriate way of training dogs," said animal trainer Jemi Hodge.
Thompson's Roanoke attorney believes Powhatan prosecutors would have a tough time proving cruelty saying, "The statute was not intended to deal with something like this." Our legal analyst agrees.
"Animal cruelty is conduct that is tantamount to torture. That inflicts pain. That puts the animal at risk of loss of life," said legal analyst Steve Benjamin.
Thompson's attorney believes his client was being hazed, saying "I think it's been kind of a standing joke there." Adding that the other officers were heard "laughing" on tape.
Jemi it's almost more benefit for the people doing it, than it is the dog. Even if they can't win a conviction, it's possible, that prosecutors have something else in mind.
"The embarrassment factor alone is going to be sufficient punishment for these individuals," said Benjamin.
In addition to 25 year old Kelvin Thompson of Chatham, the accused officers are 40 year old Melvin Boone of Waverly, 27 year old Adam Webb of Burkeville, 35 year old Cheri Campbell of Burkeville, and 33 year old Anthony Eldridge of Burkeville.According to the Department of Corrections, two of the five accused officers are no longer working for the state, but all five are due back in court in November and December.