Animal cruelty charges dropped in chicken 'torture' incident

The two teens shot a video that involved a dead chicken.


Published: Friday, January 8, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 11:22 p.m.

The State Attorney's Office has dropped felony animal cruelty charges against two teenagers involved in an alleged chicken "torture" video shot at Hawthorne High School last April.

Charges were dropped last month against the two because the chicken they allegedly "tortured" was already dead at the time.

Patrick Dougan, 18, and Robert Gordon, 19, were arrested last June after a video was forwarded to the Alachua County Animal Services Division that showed Gordon reportedly spinning the chicken over his head and then smashing it into the ground, with audio of Dougan saying "tear it apart."

The video was shot outdoors on the campus during an agriculture class activity that was intended to teach students the proper way to kill and package a chicken.

In early December, prosecutors dropped the charges against the two teenagers because depositions in the case revealed that the chicken was already dead - apparently killed in the proper fashion being taught to students - before the video of the animal being smashed into the ground was recorded, Assistant State Attorney Geoffrey Fleck said.

"As disgusting as I think it is, it's not illegal, not a crime under Florida law," Fleck said in a phone message left with The Sun.

Gordon graduated from Hawthorne High last year, and Dougan is now a senior there.

Dougan's attorney, Horace Moore, and Gordon's attorney, Chris Chestnut, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

News coverage of the arrests last summer prompted the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to start an e-mail campaign to the Alachua County School District objecting to the alleged "torture" of the chicken and, more broadly, to the fact that students were being taught how to kill chickens.

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