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Saturday, July 16, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Videotapes show bestiality, Enumclaw police say

Seattle Times staff reporter

ENUMCLAW — Authorities are reviewing hundreds of hours of videotapes seized from a rural Enumclaw-area farm that police say is frequented by men who engage in sex acts with animals.

The videotapes police have viewed thus far depict men having sex with horses, including one that shows a Seattle man shortly before he died July 2, said Enumclaw police Cmdr. Eric Sortland. Police are reviewing the tapes to make sure no laws have been broken.

"Activities like these are often collateral sexual crimes beyond the animal aspect," said Sortland, adding that investigators want to make sure crimes such as child abuse or forcible rape were not occurring on the property.

Washington is one of 17 states that does not outlaw bestiality. Police are also investigating the farm and the two men who live on the property to determine whether animal cruelty — which is a crime — was committed by forcing sex on smaller, weaker animals. Investigators said that in addition to horses, they have found chickens, goats and sheep on the 40-acre property northwest of Enumclaw.

Officers talked with the two men, but neither has been arrested. Neither man could be reached yesterday for comment.

According to King County sheriff's spokesman John Urquhart, the farm is known in Internet chat rooms as a destination for people who want to have sex with livestock.

However, authorities didn't learn about the farm until a man drove up to Enumclaw Community Hospital on July 2 seeking medical assistance for a companion. Medics wheeled the man into an examination room before realizing he was dead. When hospital workers looked for the driver, he was gone.

Using the dead man's driver's license to track down relatives and acquaintances, authorities were led to the Enumclaw farm. Some earlier reports had said hospital-surveillance cameras were used to track down the driver.

The dead man was identified as a 45-year-old Seattle resident. According to the King County Medical Examiner's Office, he died of acute peritonitis due to perforation of the colon. The man's death is not being investigated because it did not result from a crime, Urquhart said.

The Seattle man's relatives said yesterday they never suspected he was involved in bestiality. They said they were surprised when they learned he had purchased a Thoroughbred stallion earlier this year. The man told his relatives he boarded the animal with some friends in Enumclaw.

While the man's relatives were unsure how many horses he had boarded at the property, one Enumclaw neighbor said the Seattle man was keeping two stallions there.

Police and neighbors said the people renting the property have also had dogs and bull calves on the farm. Yesterday there were several horses and ponies grazing near a barn.

Two neighbors, a married couple who declined to allow use of their names, said yesterday they had no idea what had been going on at the farm. They said they've known one of the men who live on the farm for years.

On Thursday, police showed the couple videotape seized from the farm showing men having sex with horses. The couple identified one of the horses as belonging to them, Sortland said. The couple also said it appeared at least part of the tape was filmed in their barn, which left them shocked and angry.

"We couldn't believe what we were seeing," said Sortland. "In the rare, rare case this happens, it's the person doing the animal. I think that has led to the astonishment of all of the entities involved."

Thursday night, in reaction to the man's death, Susan Michaels, co-founder of Pasado's Safe Haven, posted a letter on the local animal-rights organization's Web site calling for people to e-mail legislators in an attempt to change state laws.

"This [the death] gives us credence of getting a bestiality law passed," said Michaels. "It's not natural for animals to do this."

State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said she plans to draft legislation as early as next week making bestiality illegal in Washington.

"This is just disgusting," Roach said yesterday. "It's against the law to harm children; it should be against the law to violate an animal."

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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