PRESTON — A Preston science teacher accused of feeding a puppy to a snapping turtle has been scheduled for his first court appearance after being charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty of animals.
Robert Crosland will be arraigned June 12 before Judge Eric Hunn in Franklin County, according to the Idaho Repository. A second court date of July 10 has also been scheduled.
Charging documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com state that on or about March 7, Crosland “did treat an animal – a vertebrate member of the animal kingdom – in a cruel manner: to wit, fed a live puppy to a snapping turtle subjecting the animal to needless suffering or inflicting unnecessary cruelty.”
A special prosecutor assigned by Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed the charge Friday.
Crosland has taught science at Preston Junior High School for years and was thrust into the national spotlight after EastIdahoNews.com first reported the puppy feeding incident earlier this year.
Authorities seized the turtle, and days later, the Idaho Department of Agriculture announced it had been “humanely euthanized” because the reptiles are considered invasive species.
The story made headlines around the world, and many demanded that Crosland be charged. One online petition calling for Crosland to be fired had nearly 194,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
Thousands of others stood behind the popular teacher and a “We Support Crosland” petition had over 3,800 signatures Wednesday.
Under Idaho law, a first animal cruelty offense is charged as a misdemeanor. If Crosland is found guilty, he could serve up to six months in jail and be fined up to $5,000.
EastIdahoNews.com contacted Preston School 201 Superintendent Marc Gee Friday for comment on the new developments and to confirm whether Crosland is still teaching. We will update this story when we receive a response.