Despite the existence of video evidence, a teenager who was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a horse in suburban Boston has pleaded not guilty to bestiality charges and his lawyer insists he is not the culprit.
Jackson Z. Kelley, 19, who has been charged with making sexual contact with an animal, cruelty to animals and nighttime breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, was released from jail on Friday after being held without bail for three nights ahead of a “dangerousness hearing.”
The terms of Kelley’s release include wearing a GPS ankle bracelet, undergoing a mental health assessment, and, perhaps most importantly, staying away from stables and horses.
Kelley, who, judging by his mug shot, appears to be a Black man, was identified by the owner of a stable that he is accused of breaking into in Norfolk, which is about 32 miles southwest of Boston. The owner said she got an electronic alert that there was a breach at her stable and claimed she saw Kelley having sex with one of the horses via a surveillance camera in the early morning hours of July 16.
Kelley allegedly masturbated and sexually assaulted one horse “about 10 times in a 38-minute video,” the Boston Herald reported. Police have said that the horse in question has displayed evidence that is consistent with animal sex abuse: “The horse moved away several times and elevated her leg in a kicking motion.”
Hillary Swarr, the owner, provided police with a screenshot of a person who she said resembles Kelley with his pants around his ankles and standing on a step ladder. After police made the photo public, a tipster helped identify Kelley as the alleged culprit.
The Live Boston website posted additional images from the stable showing a man who bears a striking facial resemblance to Kelley standing on the step ladder behind a horse.
But Kelley’s lawyer has argued that his client is not the same person who was seen on the video feed from the stable.
Attorney Anthony Musto pointed to the number of tips to police that he said described the person in the video in terms that aren’t consistent with Kelley.
“Many of the tips (police received) were people other than the defendant,” Musto said.
Police, however, have claimed that Jackson “had the same height, body type and skin tone” as the person in the video.
Equally as damning is the fact that Jackson also has ties to Norfolk through his adoptive parents, who either currently or used to live there.
Every surveillance camera in the stable was deactivated by Kelley except for one, the owner said.
Authorities have collected DNA samples for further proof.
Before Kelley was identified and arrested, Swarr said she thought the person she saw on the video was “a sexual predator.” Swarr also suggested that he must work with horses, based on what she saw in the video.
“Someone, perhaps, in the business was savvy enough to get into the barn; be able to halter a horse, which to people who are novice, was not the easiest task; was able to put it on a cross-tie system, which secures the horse in a certain, particular area; and had the know how to get grain or feed to keep it occupied,” Swarr said.
Swarr also added: “To have someone break into your barn, pick out a horse like it’s a lady lover, pull her out and maneuver yourself in such a manner for self-gratification is beyond me.”
The horse’s owner, who did not officially identify themself, called the allegations a “grotesque act” and expressed relief that that police had a suspect in custody.
“If it weren’t for good surveillance, we’d never know about this,” the owner said in a brief statement. “No one should experience sexual assault, and we will find this individual and bring him to justice.”
Kelley is due in court next on Sept. 13.
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