Chicken Abuse Prosecutor Quits

MOOREFIELD, W.Va. (AP) - The prosecutor investigating alleged chicken torture at a West Virginia slaughterhouse has stepped down over a potential conflict of interest. Now, the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute is trying to find a replacement for Hardy County Prosecutor Lucas See.

See sought guidance from the state bar after workers fired from the Pilgrim's Pride plant in Moorefield met with his father, who's a lawyer in the same town. The prosecutor says he's never discussed the situation with his father, but he worried about an appearance of impropriety.

If he didn't prosecute the workers for animal cruelty, groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would accuse him of doing a favor for his father. If he did prosecute, he says he could be accused of using privileged information.

PETA says it will keep the pressure on whoever ends up replacing See.

Pilgrim's Pride is a major supplier to KFC, which PETA has targeted for its animal cruelty campaign. In July, PETA released secretly recorded video of workers stomping, kicking and slamming chickens against walls at the Moorefield plant. Pilgrim's Pride later fired eleven workers.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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