Sunday, November 27, 2011

No jail time for animal abuse - by Jami Kinton

SHELBY -- A man accused of having sexual relations with animals received no jail time in Shelby Municipal Court on Wednesday morning.

"I believe you have a very severe problem," Judge Jon Schaefer said to Peter Bower, 31. "My first impulse is jail time, but jail will not help you."

In addition to 80 days of community service and two years probation, Bower must undergo a sexual evaluation, take sex addiction classes and pay a $500 fine.

Bower was ordered to not own any animals.

In May, the Shelby man was charged with animal cruelty after authorities discovered a history of sexual activity with his 3-year-old shepherd mix, Aurora.

Investigation revealed Aurora was not the only animal Bower had abused. He posted photos and stories of his encounters on multiple bestiality websites.

Bower's attorney Gordon Eyster met with Shelby Law Director Lee Shepherd, Richland County Humane Society agent Missy Houghton and Richland County Dog Warden Dave Jordan behind closed doors at the court Wednesday for about two-and-a-half hours.

At about 11:30 a.m., Bower walked into the courthouse lobby. Five minutes later, court resumed in public session.

Wearing hunter green cargo pants, a white button down shirt and green jacket, Bower took the stand with Eyster to his left and Shepherd standing nearby.

Eyster entered a no contest plea of for his client in reference to a charge of injuring animals.
Schaefer found him guilty of the charge, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Thirty states have laws prohibiting bestiality, distinct from other forms of animal cruelty. Ohio is not one of them, but since this incident, lawmakers have started working on such legislation.

Houghton said a proposal is almost ready to be introduced to the state House of Representatives.

Bower, who seemed dazed, kept his head down, swallowing hard as the judge read his fate.

His one-word responses to questions were always delayed, and sometimes had to be prompted by his attorney.

Houghton and Jordan said they were satisfied with the outcome.

"He's not going to get any treatment if he's in jail," Houghton said. "Considering that there is no law in the books, I thought this outcome was very fair."

"I'm really happy that he's not allowed to own any more animals, and hopefully now we'll be able to find a home for Aurora. We had to hold her here for months for evidence," Jordan said, noting that the dog is doing OK. "She's been in a kennel for months. Now she's been walked every day, but there's a certain amount of stress that goes along with that."

Jordan said he's glad awareness was brought to the issue.

"I think the classes will be beneficial to him," he said. "At least he'll have a good shot at getting better, because I do think this is an illness. I hope this helps him get his mind right and lets him know his behavior is not normal, isn't moral and is just plain wrong."

Bower and his attorney declined comment after the hearing.

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