For those who do not realize, animal crush videos do indeed exist. These videos generally include a stiletto-wearing actress crushing, twisting, or stomping on a small animal until the animal's limbs are crushed and broken to satisfy the sexual fetishes of those who watch them. Over the years, "crush videos" have expanded to other unthinkable acts of animal torture including the animal being burned alive, cut with pruning shears, nailed to the floor, skinned alive, beaten, and stabbed. Sure these videos existed, but Texans were shocked to recently learn that such torture films were being made in their own backyard. On August 21, 2012, two Houston residents appeared in court to face charges surrounding alleged animal cruelty purposely caught on camera. Specifically, the man and woman are accused of torturing animals with kitchen cutlery, household tools, and shoes in footage included in crush videos that are sold to sexual fetishists.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the facts of the allegations were so gruesome that the Harris County magistrate judge reportedly "halted the reading of court documents" during recent proceedings because the details were so offensive and gruesome. Within the twenty-seven videos confiscated, the two suspects allegedly tortured a puppy, kittens, a rabbit, mice, a pigeon, fish, lobsters, crabs, and other animals using high heeled shoes, a meat cleaver, knives, screwdrivers, pliers, and other devices.
Crush videos are illegal in the United States. A 1999 federal law aimed at ending the trade in these videos and prosecuting those who market them was overturned in 2008 as a violation of the Constitution's guarantee for freedom of speech. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in April of 2010 in the landmark case, U.S. v. Stevens. On December 9th, 2011, President Obama signed a bill into law which prohibits interstate commerce in animal crush films.
Not only is the act of torturing and killing an animal for sexual gratification so disturbing in itself, but even more disturbing is the maximum sentence to be handed down in Texas is two years. THLN applauds the Harris County District Attorney's Office for their swift action and hope that federal as well as state charges are pursued to allow for a more severe penalty. Although the crime is a state jail felony and the maximum punishment is two years in state prison, if the U.S. attorney pursues this case involving crush videos, the suspects could face up to seven years in prison.
Once in a while, individuals who regularly investigate and report on animal cruelty are shocked and disturbed. By all accounts of the individuals involved in this Houston case, this is one of those times. Words cannot describe the utterly disgusting nature of crush videos. Not only are the videos desensitizing such cruelty to anyone making or watching them, but gaining pleasure from the torture of an animal is just, well, wrong. And when one learns that such videos are being made in our own backyard, it's rather shocking.