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Jury Convicts Animal Welfare Activists
By JEFFREY GOLD, Associated Press Writer Fri Mar 3, 3:21 AM ET
TRENTON, N.J. - Six animal-rights supporters face up to seven years in prison after being convicted of using a Web site to incite threats, harassment and vandalism against a company that tests drugs and household products on animals.
A jury returned its verdict against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty and six of its members on Thursday after three days of deliberations.
Federal Judge Anne E. Thompson ordered five of them held without bail until a sentencing hearing on June 7. The defendants, all in their late 20s or early 30s, face three to seven years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
The government charged that SHAC waged a five-year campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences, posting on its Web site information about the lab's employees and those who do business with Huntingdon. The information included their home phone numbers, addresses and where their children attended school.
SHAC President Pamelyn Ferdin said the jury was fooled by the government's case and the judge's order to remove victims' names and home addresses from its Web site reeked of fascism.
"This is a scary path for all Americans," said Ferdin, a former child star who was the voice of Lucy in the "Peanuts" movies and played Felix Unger's daughter Edna on TV's "The Odd Couple."
"Here is a government, a feckless federal government, who spent millions of taxpayer dollars to wage an assault on all our constitutional rights," she said.
Sally Dillenback broke into tears as she recounted an anonymous e-mail that threatened to cut open her son and fill him with poison "the way Huntingdon does with the animals."
Marian Harlos testified she got late-night calls in which someone asked: "Are you scared? Do you think the puppies should be scared?"
She said masked protesters parked down the street from her house, videotaping her comings and goings. They barged into her office, screaming and tossing leaflets, and others ruined the rear door with glue and animal stickers, she said.
First, they were in federal court, where the odds were against them to begin with. Second, they were in the 'burbs, where these people threatened children. Their only real option was to plead out and rat on their comrades. A trial was going to get them locked up.
Ferdin is especially stupid in suggesting that there is something wrong in leaving the names on the site up. Does she not understand that each one of the victims of the group can now go into civil court here and the UK to sue them? The judge did her a big fucking favor by ordering those names down.
By the way, you don't have a right to threaten violence against children. My bet is that these folks will be serving much of those seven years or much of those 84 months in at least medium security.
See, these folks were so convinced that they were right, none of them had the common sense to realize what a jury of suburban homeowners would do to people who threaten children.
Their lawyer should have impressed upon them the risks they would face when sentenced on a terrorism conspiracy charge. Confinement with hardened criminals who hate people who threaten children to make a point. The Bureau of Prisons will not be putting them in a country club prison.
They should not be surprised if Huntington Life Sciences and their employees seek to sue the group into penury, armed with the federal conviction in their pockets.
posted by Steve @ 6:34:00 AM