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Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Houston Woman Convicted Of Producing And Distributing Animal Crush Videos
The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
Ashley Nicole Richards 24, of Houston, Texas, has been convicted of creating and distributing videos depicting the torture and killing of puppies, chickens and kittens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson for the Southern District of Texas. Richards entered a guilty plea today, admitting she produced and distributed what is referred to as “animal crush videos.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) defines the “crush” fetish as a cruel and illegal genre of pornography in which women are videotaped or photographed mutilating small animals for the sexual gratification of viewers. In crush fetish materials, women are depicted, usually barefoot or in high heels, stepping on (or crushing), torturing and killing different species of animals, ranging from crawfish, crabs and insects to rodents, rabbits, kittens, puppies, cats, dogs and other mammals.
Under federal law it is illegal to depict - via photograph, motion-picture film, video, digital recording or electronic image - actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury, and is obscene.
This is the first known case to be indicted in federal court since the statute was amended in 2010.
Richards has admitted to creating and distributing videos that involve puppies, chickens and kittens being tortured and killed. The videos are titled “puppy1,” “puppy 2,” “whitechick1,” “whitechick2,” “whitechick3,” “blackluvsample,” “adammeetseve” and “adammeetseve2” and were created at varying times between February 2010 and August 2012. In the “puppy2” video, which is more than 13 minutes in length, Richards is seen torturing and killing a blue Pit Bull-mix puppy in a kitchen. The defenseless dog’s mouth is closed with duct tape and he struggles as Richards strikes the dog numerous times with a meat cleaver. In the video, Richards chops off one of the puppy’s paws, then hacks at his head and neck. Richards is later seen severing the dog’s head and urinating on its body. In another video, described in court today, Richards steps on a cat’s eye with heel of her shoe.
Previous court records also indicated that during the videos, Richards is often scantily clad and wearing a Mardi Gras-type mask. As she tortured the animals, she engaged in sexually charged dialogue meant to arouse the viewer.
Authorities were alerted to the videos following an inquiry from PETA.
Richards was originally arrested on state charges on Aug. 15, 2012. A federal grand jury returned an indictment Nov. 28, 2012, and she was transferred to federal custody. However, the crush video charges were later dismissed on what the court cited as constitutionality issues. The government appealed that decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans which subsequently overturned the decision of the District Court. The defense then filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the 5th Circuit’s ruling. The Supreme Court denied that petition and remanded the case back to the District Court for prosecution.
Today, Richards pleaded guilty to all five counts as charged, four counts of producing and one count of distribution of the animal crush videos which were obscene in nature. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake accepted the guilty pleas and has set sentencing for December 10. At that time, Richards faces up to seven years in federal prison on each count of conviction as well as possible $250,000 fine.
Richards also pleaded guilty to three charges in state court stemming from the same conduct and was sentenced to ten years in prison.
The Houston Police Department originally investigated the matter and worked in conjunction with the Houston Office of the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack is prosecuting the case, while trial attorney John Pellettieri of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division handled the appeal.
Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime. He has written extensively about organized crime, cybercrime, street crime, white collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism. His 'On Crime' column appears in the Washington Times and his 'Crime Beat' column appears here. He is also a regular contributor to Counterterrorism magazine and writes their online 'Threatcon' column. Paul Davis' crime fiction appears in American Crime Magazine. His work has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Weekly and other publications. As a writer, he has attended police academy training, gone out on patrol with police officers, accompanied detectives as they worked cases, accompanied narcotics officers on drug raids, observed criminal court proceedings, visited jails and prisons, and covered street riots, mob wars and murder investigations. He has interviewed police commissioners and chiefs, FBI, DEA, HSI and other federal special agents, prosecutors, public officials, WWII UDT frogmen, Navy SEALs, Army Delta operators, Israeli commandos, military intelligence officers, Scotland Yard detectives, CIA officers, former KGB officers, film and TV actors, writers and producers, journalists, novelists and true crime authors, gamblers, outlaw bikers, and Cosa Nostra organized crime bosses. Paul Davis has been a student of crime since he was a 12-year-old aspiring writer growing up in South Philadelphia. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17 in 1970. He served aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War and he later served two years aboard the Navy harbor tugboat U.S.S. Saugus at the U.S. floating nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. He went on to do security work as a Defense Department civilian while working part-time as a freelance writer. From 1991 to 2005 he was a producer and on-air host of "Inside Government," a public affairs interview radio program that aired Sundays on WPEN AM and WMGK FM in the Philadelphia area. You can read Paul Davis' crime columns, crime fiction, book reviews and news and feature articles on this website. You can read his full bio by clicking on the above photo. And you can contact Paul Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org