Ohio bans sex with animals; violators could face jail

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP, WHSV) — It's now illegal in Ohio for people to engage in sexual conduct or related acts with animals; the state didn't have anti-bestiality laws until the change took effect last week.

The measure gained enough votes to pass in December when it was incorporated into a bill that bars local jurisdictions from raising the minimum wage or regulating pet stores, The Dayton Daily News reported.

Offenders could face up to 90 days in jail, in addition to a $750 fine, and have the animal seized and impounded. They also could be ordered to undergo psychological evaluation or counseling.

"It's a crime that defies explanation to the rational person," said Mark Kumpf, director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center. "We're dealing with a different species."

Most states have laws prohibiting sexual conduct with animals. Eight states don't, including Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, along with Washington, D.C.

In February, a bill to prohibit bestiality was introduced in the West Virginia House, but it never made out of the House Judiciary Committee.

That bill would have made bestiality a Class 6 felony in the Mountain State.

Rep. Jim Hughes, from Upper Arlington, who sponsored the Ohio anti-bestiality measure with fellow Republican Sen. Jay Hottinger, has described bestiality as "sickening and perverse."

"We don't want Ohio to be the place you can come and have sex with an animal," he said.

There's also some concern among law enforcement about links between such acts and other crimes.

A Virginia police detective who has spent years focused on internet crimes against children said he's seen links between bestiality and child sex abuse.

"I found that people who were engaged in crimes against children were also engaged in sexual crimes against animals," Fairfax County Detective Jeremy Hoffman said. "It was people from everyday walks of life. There was no stereotype that you could pin to any of them."