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Preston teacher pleads not guilty in animal cruelty case

The following story courtesy of EastIdahoNews.com. It is used here with permission.

PRESTON — The school teacher who allegedly fed a live puppy to a snapping turtle pleaded not guilty to an animal cruelty charge Tuesday.

Robert Crosland, a junior high school science teacher, was arrianged in Franklin County Magistrate Court in front Judge David Hooste, according to the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.

The Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, filed the misdemeanor animal cruelty charges on June 1. The office got involved because the Franklin County prosecutor recused himself from the case.

According to charging documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, on or about March 7, Crosland “did treat an animal – a vertebrate member of the animal kingdom – in a cruel manner: to wit, fed a live puppy to a snapping turtle subjecting the animal to needless suffering or inflicting unnecessary cruelty.”

Crosland, who taught at Preston Junior High School for years, was thrust into the national spotlight after EastIdahoNews.com first reported the puppy feeding incident earlier this year.

Authorities seized the turtle, and days later, the Idaho Department of Agriculture announced it had been “humanely euthanized” because the reptiles are considered invasive species.

The story made headlines around the world, and many demanded that Crosland be charged. Petitions demanding he be fired and calling for him to keep his job have gathered thousands of signatures.

Under Idaho law, if Crosland is found guilty, he could serve up to six months in jail and be fined up to $5,000.

Crosland is scheduled for a trial Oct. 26 with a pretrial conference Oct. 9.

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