Source:  Bloomberg BNA

By Jessica DaSilva

A new movement in the debate on animal abuse policing and prosecution has turned its attention to redefining bestiality in state codes around the country.

It is a topic shrouded in taboo, but links between bestiality and sex crimes against humans—children in particular—are bringing the debate out in the open.

Bestiality “is the single greatest predictor of people who will molest children,” Detective Jeremy Hoffman, of the Fairfax County, Va., Sheriff’s Office, told Bloomberg BNA.

Hoffman routinely testifies in front of state legislative committees deciding on bestiality bills.

Bloomberg BNA will explore the changing landscape of animal cruelty in criminal law in a four-part series.

Although states have been enacting these bills over the past 10 years, there is a push toward enforcement in states that have the laws and establishing laws where there are none because of more information on the link between animal sexual abuse and human sexual abuse, according to Jenny Edwards, a criminologist and independent researcher who has been studying animal sexual abuse for 10 years.

She explained that often means animal control officers handle offenses, and many incidents of bestiality are not investigated by sexual assault detectives.

The issue recently took on more significance when the FBI announced an initiative to start tracking animal cruelty crimes in 2016, which would include bestiality, Lindsay Hamrick, New Hampshire state director for the Humane Society of the U.S., told Bloomberg BNA. That initiative sprang from law enforcement’s recognized link between animal abuse and crimes against people (98 CrL 229, 12/9/15).

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