Petition Closed
Petitioning Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice

Sexual Abuse of Animals is Animal Cruelty


In New York, tenants awoke to their landlord sexually abusing his dog. A veterinary exam revealed signs of trauma, including injuries to the dog's legs consistent with being restrained. The dog was taken into the care of shelter, and the landlord, Mitchell Marsicano was arrested.

Marsicano was charged with burglary and sexual misconduct. He could face up to 15 years in prison for the first charge and one year for the second.

The penalty for unlawfully entering a home that he owns is fifteen times stronger than violating a dog.

In a statement responding to this case, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said, "It's unimaginable to think that anyone could carry out such unspeakable acts of cruelty and violence on a defenseless animal."

Then why wasn't Marsicano also charged with animal cruelty? Aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony in New York, is defined as conduct which "is intended to cause extreme physical pain; or is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner." Bestiality should qualify as "depraved." 

The reason bestiality needs its own laws is because sex with animals is sexual abuse, but it doesn't always result in visible physical suffering, and there's no way for an animal to testify to their emotional trauma, so it can be difficult to apply standard animal cruelty laws in some cases. New York is ahead of the many states without laws addressing the sexual abuse of animals. But bestiality laws should be used to strengthen animal cruelty laws, not replace them, and, in this case, there were physical signs of trauma.

Ask the district attorney to make sure criminals like Marsicano are punished to the full extent of the law.

Photo credit: suzummiyaharuka

Letter to
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice
I want to commend you for being a vocal advocate for animals. I couldn't agree more with your statement regarding the recent case of Mitchell Marsicano, accused of sexually abusing his dog, that, "It's unimaginable to think that anyone could carry out such unspeakable acts of cruelty and violence on a defenseless animal." That's why it's unfathomable that he wasn't charged with aggravated animal cruelty.

The reason bestiality needs its own laws is because sex with animals is sexual abuse, but it doesn't always result in visible physical suffering, and there's no way for an animal to testify to their emotional trauma, so it can be difficult to apply standard animal cruelty laws in some cases. New York rightfully classifies bestiality as sexual misconduct, as animals cannot give their consent. But bestiality laws should be used to strengthen animal cruelty laws, not replace them, and, in this case, there were physical signs of trauma.

Mr. Marsicano is facing one year for what he did to that defenseless dog, versus fifteen years for unlawfully entering a property that he owns. He did cause physical pain in a "depraved manner," and should have been charged with felony animal cruelty.

I am joining the Change.org community in calling on you to review this case and how animal cruelty laws are applied to bestiality. If Mr. Marsicano cannot be charged with felony animal cruelty under your current laws, then the county needs to ensure that policies are in place so people who commit heinous crimes such as this can be punished to the full extent of the law. I also strongly urge Nassau county to establish an animal abuser registry, like Suffolk County, as those who abuse animals have a high rate of recidivism and often continue on to increasingly violent crimes.

Thank you.