Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Indiana: Appeals court upholds animal cruelty convictions against Charles Clark, who was caught on video torturing, stomping and beating his then-girlfriend's dog

INDIANA -- A southern Indiana woman set up a video camera in her house in an attempt to catch her boyfriend cheating on her with another woman.

Instead, she recorded him torturing her dog, Dudley, by putting the animal in a chokehold and repeatedly punching it in the rib cage.

In another video clip, the boyfriend, Charles P. Clark, of Aurora, was seen stomping on the dog as it sat on the couch.

Aurora Police Sgt. Shane Slack called the March 2017 incident “one of the worst cases I’ve seen in 13 years as far as animal abuse.”

On Wednesday, Clark had his Level 6 felony convictions on two counts of cruelty to an animal upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

At a May 25, 2017, sentencing hearing, Clark, 43, admitted to the offenses but claimed he couldn’t remember them due to a blackout from medication he was taking for mental health problems. He also testified that he was unemployed and had four children from two previous marriages.

Clark had been sentenced by Dearborn Superior Court Judge Sally McLaughlin on each count to 910 days in jail with 365 days suspended to probation on each count. He effectively received a sentence of [just] 1-1/2 years’ imprisonment.

Clark appealed, saying his sentence was inappropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and his character.

In upholding the sentence, the appellate court found that Clark said he was seeking mental health treatment but had presented no evidence he was on medication at the time of the incident.

Attempts by CNHI to reach Clark’s defense attorney in Madison were unsuccessful.

Edited for length:  Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 15A05-1706-CR-1432 | November 22, 2017. Click here to read in its entirety.

On March 20, 2017, Clark’s girlfriend reported to the Aurora Police Department, in Indiana, that Clark had been abusing their dog, a rescued boxer breed, named Dudley.

She presented Sergeant Shane Slack (Sergeant Slack) with videos that she had secretly recorded in an attempt to catch Clark cheating on her with another woman “because he had been acting different lately.”

The videos depicted Clark picking “the dog up and slam[ming] it [in]to the couch and then put[ting] it in a choke hold and begin[ing] to punch it repeatedly in the rib cage.”

The animal attempted to escape the punishment and was crying.

In another clip of the video, Clark is observed “stomping down on the dog as it was sitting on the floor below him on the couch.”

After reviewing the videos, Sergeant Slack declared this to be “one of the worst cases I’ve seen in thirteen years as far as animal abuse.”

Police officers arrested Clark at his home, where he admitted that he had abused the animal but [claimed] that “afterwards he feels bad about it.”

Clark severely beat, punched, and strangled a helpless dog without any
provocation. The animal was a family pet and the senseless violence occurred
on more than one occasion. While the visible injuries may have healed, Dudley continued to experience mental scars for a significant period of time after Clark relinquished the dog.

Dudley’s current owner, who adopted him approximately a week later, testified that Dudley, at first, was “very guarded” and “depressed.”  “It was like he was afraid to do anything except lay or sit. He was just scared.”

For a time, Dudley experienced “quite violent nightmares,” during which he cried out loud and shook all over.

Even though Clark admitted that he had abused Dudley after being confronted with the video recordings; nevertheless, during the sentencing hearing, Clark attempted to present himself as the victim by claiming that he had blacked out because of medication. However, besides his own self-serving statement, he presented no evidence that he was on any medication at the time of the offenses. While it is commendable that Clark has accepted his mental health problems and is seeking help, this acknowledgment is a bit late for Dudley.

Based on the foregoing, we hold that the trial court’s imposed sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and Clark’s character.


(Tribune Star - November 27, 2017)