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The original item was published from 10/28/2016 3:13:40 PM to 12/10/2016 5:05:01 PM.

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District Attorney

Posted on: October 28, 2016

[ARCHIVED] DA Stedman's Full Statement on Release of Information in Hennessey Case

Following is District Attorney Craig Stedman's complete statement regarding the investigation of injuries sustained by Hennessey, a young pit bull:

We are again extremely disappointed that case-sensitive material, including names and other pertinent facts, were prematurely provided to the public – this time by a member of law-enforcement.

This investigation is absolutely not closed. At the time of this correspondence, as it states, no charges were to be filed based on the collection of facts at that time. That fact no one has been charged is self-evident. Moreover, no one could ethically be charged at this point.

As recently as today, investigators were in contact with individuals involved in the treatment/evaluation of this dog and we are awaiting professional findings and reports. Further, there are more steps which will be taken in the near future. However, the fact we have to state this publicly in a still-open case because of individuals who profess to work against animal cruelty is beyond discouraging and potentially fatal to this case.

We must emphasize that in order to file charges there must not only provable evidence of abuse, but sustainable evidence of who perpetrated the abuse.

A substantiated report of animal abuse or cruelty, while extremely disturbing, is only part of the investigation. Similar to an investigation of child abuse, we must find not only that abuse took place, but who abused the child. We must also be able to prove both factors in a court of law before we can ethically file any charges. You cannot simply charge “abuse” without being able to identify and prove the person or person’s responsible. Suspicion of who is responsible is not the standard of proof. On the contrary, we must be able to establish abuse and who did it beyond a reasonable doubt.

All of this emphasizes this office’s call to professionalize animal cruelty investigations. When those involved foolishly release investigative information, particularly when we still have interviews to conduct, it does nothing but help potential suspects by telegraphing what information we have. Further, we intentionally do not share all the information we have, pending planned interviews, or the status of cases with everyone involved to preserve the integrity of the case.

Mr. Kondravy, at least for the present, has powers of arrest for animal cruelty cases. If he believes he can ethically charge any individual with animal cruelty in this case, he has the lawful authority.

At no point has Mr. Kondravy provided any evidence which would lead to charges at present. We are at a complete loss as to why he would send this to the media. The only practical effect is to telegraph our case to the people we are investigating and this needs to stop if we are going to be able to effectively and fairly investigate cruelty cases. We intend to address this matter, as well as the case at hand, professionally and fairly to everyone.

We will certainly announce our findings and rationale when the case is complete, which it most certainly is not. The only other thing we can say for sure is that it will be harder for us to do our jobs because of the above actions.

What seems to be lost in the past few days is that if people actually care about stopping animal cruelty they need to focus on assisting law enforcement rather than their ego and/or getting publicity. The only sure loser from the past few days are the animals. This office is absolutely committed to fighting animal cruelty.

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