Protesters Pleased with Developments in Kitten Torture Case Against Judge’s Son

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By Karen Harrison Binette

vfghhAnimal advocates who turned out to protest and to represent the kitten victims at the Oriskany Village Court in Oneida County, NY today were largely pleased with developments in a torture case against the son of a local judge.

On July 21,  Joseph Sullivan, the 19 year old son of Whitestown Town Justice Daniel Sullivan, was found by a police officer in the ladies room of the Gibson Road Town Park in Whitestown after closing time with two kittens. One of the kittens’ paws were bound with tape, the other kitten was still in a cardboard box, and there was a lighter on the floor.

Sullivan was charged with misdemeanor torture under the state’s animal cruelty law. Police say Sullivan got the kittens through a Craigslist advertisement.

Since Sullivan was interrupted before he could inflict injuries to the kittens beyond the bound legs, his attorney, Richard Mauro, filed a motion to have the charge dismissed.

“At this point, my client is presumed innocent, and we’ll see how the motion goes,” Mauro said. “Other than the taping, there’s no evidence that the kitten was harmed. No pain, no death were caused.”

“These judges need to do what’s right. And by doing what’s right is giving the max amount of fines or jail time or whatever it has to be. This cannot just be a slap on the hands anymore because it’s getting worse,” said protestor Rebecca Yoxall of Lainey’s Army, a group that turned out with more than a dozen members present.

In court today, the judge announced that the Oneida County District Attorney recused himself. Because the defendant is son of the Town Justice, a special prosecutor from the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office has been assigned to handle the case. The prosecutor, Frederick McRoberts, will have until November 13 to review the evidence and respond to the defense’s dismissal motion.

Justice Christopher Clarkin announced that he will decide in late November whether there is enough evidence to support Sullivan’s torture charge.

One detail was clarified in court today:  Sgt. Mark Sojda said that he was mistaken in saying the kitten’s paws were taped behind its back, and its paws were actually taped in front.

In another significant development, a very similar incident will now be investigated in relation to the Sullivan case.

Local teenagers rescued a screaming, drowning kitten from the same park on July 3 after witnessing a young man behaving suspiciously and then watching from a ways off. One of the teens took the kitten home and discovered it was in pain from burns. The teen’s family got the kitten medical care, named it Chance and adopted it.

After the July 21 incident, it seemed to many that two cases seemed to be related and Sullivan may have committed the earlier offense, but Whitestown police Chief Donald Wolanin initially said he didn’t believe the two incidents are connected and the matter would not be investigated.

Wolanin now says the earlier case is being re-investigated and the findings will be presented to the special prosecutor for review.

In an unrelated case, Sullivan also faces charges fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, state police said Friday. Sullivan is accused of selling nearly $1,900 in stolen gold jewelry to a pawn shop. The jewelry was reported missing from a house visited by the accused.



Protesters lined up in front of the courthouse today, their hands crossed behind their backs to represent the bound legs of the kittens at the center of the animal torture case against Joseph Sullivan.

Chance, the kitten from the earlier incident that is now being investigated for a possible connection to the case that has been charged.

Chance was severely burned, then tossed in the water and left to drown in July, a week before Joseph Sullivan was caught in the same park with two kittens and a lighter in a ladies room after closing time. Police initially said there was no apparent connection between the two incidents.


Chance, after his recovery


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