Case Snapshot
Case ID: 4570
Classification: Mutilation/Torture, Burning - Fire or Fireworks
Animal: chicken, reptile
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Thursday, May 12, 2005

County: Essex

Disposition: Convicted

Defendants/Suspects:
» 12 year old boy
» 13 year old boy
» 14 year old boy

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Three middle-school boys were arrested after making a videotape themselves as they blew up frogs with firecrackers and blow-torched chickens to death at a summer camp that for 41 years has acquainted children with nature.

"The way they came in and killed the chickens - I'm appalled," said Jim Loscutoff Sr., the star Celtics player who retired in 1964 and founded Evergreen Camp at the edge of the Harold Parker State Park the following year.

One young man, whose name is being withheld because he is juvenile, admitted his involvement in the sordid crime. ``It started out innocent,'' he said. ``We just wanted the roosters to chase us so we threw sticks at them, but it got too far over the line. It was a stupid thing because those animals didn't deserve it.''

The boy's mother said he is grounded indefinitely.

"What he did," she said, "is totally, totally unacceptable. I love animals.

"I cannot protect my son. It's really terrible. My first reaction was to tell police to take me in because I wanted to beat the (expletive) out of him."

The recovered digital camera video shows the Doherty Middle School boys - 12, 13 and 14 years old - laughing as they ran around the 10-acre camp saying "let's go kill this one over here" as they violently whipped``defenseless little chickens'' with a fishing rod before they sprayed them with flames. They also struck the animals with lacrosse sticks.

The video also shows the boys spraying swastikas on frogs, cutting them open with a knife and then blowing them up by putting firecrackers in their mouths, Andover police Lt. Kevin Winters said.

After they were arraigned on a slew of animal cruelty and vandalism charges on May 13 in the juvenile division of Lawrence District Court, the boys were released to their parents. Jim Loscutoff Jr.'s daughter, Allison, found the video and watched it as her father, who runs the camp, cornered the three boys and called police after the trio ran into a house in an upscale development near the camp on May 12.

To write a letter to the authorities in Essex county, Massachusetts, urging vigorous prosecution and mandatory psychological counseling for these boys if they are convicted:

Essex County Juvenile Court
Lawrence Session
10 Railroad Street
Lawrence, MA 01841

Juvenile court fax: (978) 725-3878


Case Updates

Counseling, classes about Anti-Semitism and 120 hours of community service at a local animal shelter are part of a two-year probation sentence for three Andover teens accused of killing and torturing animals at Camp Evergreen in May.

Judge Mark Newman found all three boys, ages 13, 14 and 15, delinquent on charges of vandalism and animal cruelty in Lawrence District Juvenile Court on Tuesday. The judge made his decision after viewing about two and a half hours of video footage shot by the teens themselves as they engaged in a vandalism spree at the Jenkins Road day camp. Several veteran police officers described theirs to be the worst animal cruelty case they had ever seen.

For the judge to find the teens delinquent, he had to find that the boys committed the acts beyond a reasonable doubt - the same burden of proof that applies in adult criminal trials.

"It was a horrendous crime," said Andover police Lt. Kevin Winters. "But I think the judge's decision was fair. Hopefully it will help the kids to learn from their mistakes."

Jim Loscutoff, owner of Camp Evergreen, said he hopes the judge's ruling was the right one, but ultimately, "it's up to the parents now to make sure it works."

Last month, the three boys admitted to sufficient facts on charges of animal cruelty, trespassing, malicious destruction of property over $250, possession of a BB gun without a permit, and malicious damage to a motor vehicle. Two of the boys also admitted to sufficient facts on a charge of attempting to commit a crime (breaking and entering). By doing so, the defendants were agreeing that, had the case gone to trial, there would be enough evidence for a jury to return delinquent findings.

The boys' defense attorney sought to have the cases continued without findings while the Commonwealth wanted the boys to be found delinquent and committed to state custody until their 18th birthdays, according to Steve O'Connell, spokesman for the Essex County District Attorney's office.

The boys have two months to make restitution to Loscutoff in the amount of $2,243 for destroying property, and $680 to neighbor Arthur Gonzalves for smashing up his truck.

Also as part of their probation, the boys are to remain in counseling and therapy as determined by their therapists and the probation department. A requirement of their treatment calls for all three teens to enter and complete the AniCare Child Model, a specialized 12- to 15-week program tailored to deal with juveniles who abuse animals, O'Connell said.

The AniCare Child Model is the first published treatment approach that focuses exclusively on juvenile cruelty to animals. Now used in 30 states, it focuses on two goals: empathy development and self management.

The judge also ordered the boys to perform 120 hours of community service at the MSPCA in Lawrence or Methuen, or at a similar agency, and to complete the Anti-Semitism class in the Juvenile Justice Program at the District Attorney's Office. They must remain drug- and alcohol-free and are subject to random urine screens.

"The judge's decision sounds right," said Jack Drewry, a professor of juvenile case law at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover. "I'm glad to know that judges are looking for ways to sentence juveniles that go to the root of the problem. These classes will be more meaningful to (the boys) in the long term than punishing them in ways that wouldn't really teach them anything about their actions."

Those actions were filmed beginning on Wednesday, May 11 as two boys walked through the woods around Camp Evergreen. After finding a fishing rod, the boys took turns filming each other using it to beat some of Loscutoff's pet chickens, said police. On Thursday, May 12, the two teens returned with a third boy and a backpack containing firecrackers, an aerosol can, a lighter, a knife and two pellet guns, said police. The video showed the boys beating the birds with lacrosse sticks, attempting to drown one in the camp pond and using a makeshift blowtorch to set another on fire. Loscutoff said one of the chickens was found with its head cut off. Three chickens died as a result of the attacks.

The boys also captured frogs and placed them in the center of a swastika they had spray painted on the ground. Police said the teens "torched it alive," and used firecrackers to blow up several baby frogs.

After waiting five months for an apology, Loscutoff finally received one on Tuesday.

"They read a prepared apology in front of the judge," Loscutoff said. "It was better than nothing. I hope it was meaningful and true."

Loscutoff, who had previously told the Townsman he just wanted the boys "to grow up to be good," said even though he is trying to put the incident behind him, some images keep playing over in his mind.

"The thing that was most disappointing happened when we caught the 14-year-old-boy on the property," Loscutoff said. "We had his video camera and he said 'I'm only 14, I don't know any better.' I hope he knows better."
Source: Andover Townsman - Oct 6, 2005
Update posted on Oct 11, 2005 - 1:45AM 

References

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