BREAKING: Undercover Investigator Charged With Animal Cruelty for Videotaping Farm Abuse

by Will Potter on November 22, 2013

in Terrorism Court Cases

Quanah-Investigation4An undercover investigator for the animal protection nonprofit Compassion Over Killing is being charged with animal cruelty for filming animal abuse of newborn calves in Colorado.

Taylor Radig worked at Quanah Cattle Co. in Kersey, Colorado, and covertly filmed calves, some so young they still had umbilical cords attached, being kicked, thrown, and slammed onto trucks. Video footage was released by the group on November 13th, and on November 15th criminal charges were filed against three men shown abusing the animals.

At the time, Sherriff John Cooke said “We still have work to do. We want to make sure we have identified all the suspects and all the parties to determine if we need to make other arrests.”

Today the Sherriff’s department announced additional charges were filed against the young woman who filmed the abuse and turned over the footage to the police. 

In a press release, the police admit as much: “The video footage was eventually provided to law enforcement by representatives of Compassion Over Killing approximately 2 months after Radig’s employment ended with Quanah Cattle Company… Radig’s failure to report the alleged abuse of the animals in a timely manner adheres to the definition of acting with negligence and substantiates the charge Animal Cruelty.” Radig is also accused of participating in the abuse.

Compassion Over Killing said in a statement that the prosecution is retaliatory: “The charge against our investigator is unsupported by the law and it reeks of political motivation fueled by an agribusiness industry that is once again lashing out in desperation to stop undercover investigators from exposing the truth.”

The prosecution of a whistleblower who exposed animal cruelty in this way is unprecedented.

However, the agriculture industry has been campaigning heavily for “ag-gag” laws that would make it illegal to photograph or videotape animal abuse on factory farms. In Utah, the first ag-gag prosecution was against a woman who filmed a slaughterhouse from the public street.

The latest versions of these bills require investigators to turn over video footage to law enforcement immediately, and some of them would prohibit investigators from speaking with the press.

These so-called “mandatory reporting” requirements — which are strikingly similar to what is at issue in this case — are intended to stop national animal welfare groups from documenting patterns of abuse. Such legislation was introduced in New Hampshire, Nebraska, Wyoming, Tennessee, California, and North Carolina this year — and failed in every state.

Colorado is not an “ag-gag” state, but this is clearly part of that trend, and could indicate ag-gag legislation about to be introduced in Colorado.

Prosecuting animal welfare advocates for exposing animal cruelty is clearly an attempt by Big Ag to send a chilling message to anyone who not only records abuse, but comes forward and turns over that footage to the police.

UPDATE: Taylor Radig speaks about her video and her prosecution.

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