Sunrise Sen. Nan Rich's proposal to make it a crime to have sex with animals (yes, it's legal in Florida) finally got a hearing and a swift unanimous vote in the Senate Criminal Justice committee. Rich, a child's rights advocate, said that those who abuse animals (sexually and otherwise) are likely to do the same to kids.
The bill was precipitated by the sex assualt-related strangulation of a goat in Mossy Head (full story here), but other terrible tales have now surfaced.
Before the vote, Leon County prosecutor Michael Bauer sent Rich and other senators a letter recounting his troubles prosecuting the 2006 case of a blind guy who had sex with his male yellow Lab "Lucky." The man explained "freely about his regular sexual acitivities with his dog and said he would take the dog for a walk prior to sex to 'prevent fecal impact.'"
Bauer wrote that the case would have been easier to prosecute if a bestiality ban were in place. Ultimately, the man was convicted of a cruelty to animal charge and he got three years of sex-offender probation.
"The clear status of our state law at this point is that the FLorida Legislature has not prohibited bestiality in our State. Bestiality is currently legal in Florida!" Bauer wrote. "Please do your part to make this easy judgment call."
So far, the bill has yet to be heard in the House. We'll find out why.
State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston (pictured right) has made her legislative calling in dealing with children's issues. So what's a South Florida Democrat whose forte leans toward foster care, universal Pre-K and the medically needy wading into the sexual appetites of men and women who prefer doing the wild thing with dogs, goats and horses?
Unfortunately, forced trysts between the species are a problem in the Sunshine State. Take the case of the Martin County laborer who police said sodomized an Argentine Dogo puppy. Or the lab test in Okaloosa County that confirmed that a man sexually assaulted a dead female goat. Or the 63 year-old man authorities in Manatee County say twice pushed his entire arm into a horse's vaginal cavity.
Florida unfortunately doesn't have a law that specifically prohibits sex with animals. It once had "Crimes Against Nature" laws on the books, but those statutes included laws against homosexuality, which the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately struck down. Thirty-four states reinstated enough of those Crimes Against Nature laws to cover bestiality. Florida has not.
An animal cruelty charge is about the most you can get, and it's difficult to make a case like that stick. Lab work for most human on human crimes take time. Animal abuse comes in with low priority written all over it. Plus, it's not like the victim can testify in court.
There's also that nagging connection between animal abuse and abuse of other humans. Over the past 25 years, there have been a slew of studies showing that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of repeated cruelty to animals.
Rich's bill, SB 744, prohibits a person for knowingly engaging in sexual acts with an animal. The measure has the support of animal rights groups and law enforcement, and you'd think the measure would be sailing through the Legislature. It's not. Privacy and the need to keep the government out of one's bedroom, barn or pasture has dampened any real legislative zeal to make this bill a law.
The bottom line is that this is a good bill that gives both animal rights advocates and law enforcement another tool to protect animals and ultimately humans too. You might think this effort would be too "dark" for Rich, but she argues there is a child-welfare connection in what appears to be an initiative to protect four-legged creatures from being sexually abused by their two-legged counterparts.