An Enumclaw-area man who authorities say helped run a farm where people had sex with animals was charged with a misdemeanor yesterday in connection with a Seattle man's death.
Police began investigating James Tait, 54, and another man who lived at the rural Southeast King County farm after the Seattle man died of injuries suffered during intercourse with a horse at a neighboring farm, Enumclaw police said.
The criminal-trespassing charge stems from a July 2 bestiality session involving Tait, the 45-year-old Seattle man and a horse in a neighbor's barn, charging papers say. According to the King County Medical Examiner's Office, the Seattle man died of acute peritonitis due to perforation of the colon.
Attempts to contact Tait yesterday were unsuccessful.
King County prosecutors say it's the most-severe charge they could file; Washington is one of more than a dozen states that does not outlaw bestiality.
"There is no evidence of injury to the animal to support animal-cruelty charges," said Dan Satterberg, the county prosecutor's chief of staff. "This is the only crime we can charge."
When interviewed by The Seattle Times July 15, the horse's owners said they had known their neighbors for years. The couple, who asked to have their names withheld to protect their privacy, said they were shocked when police showed them a home video of the July 2 incident that investigators seized from their neighbor's home. The couple identified their barn and their horse.
According to the King County Sheriff's Office, which also investigated, the farm was known in Internet chat rooms as a destination for people who want to have sex with livestock. Authorities didn't learn about the farm until July 2, when a man drove to Enumclaw Community Hospital seeking medical assistance for a companion. Medics wheeled the Seattle man into an examination room and realized he was dead. When hospital workers looked for the man who had dropped him off, he was gone, Enumclaw police said.
Using the dead man's driver's license to track down relatives and acquaintances, investigators were led to the Enumclaw farm.
Because the other man who lived at the farm wasn't there the night the Seattle man died, he wasn't charged with trespassing, Satterberg said. Tait will be arraigned Oct. 27; he faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted.
The Seattle man isn't being identified because his family asked that his name not be released.
The man's brother said he understands that prosecutors can't file a felony charge but remains disappointed that Tait wouldn't face more than a year behind bars.
In the wake of the man's death, State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, has said she plans to draft legislation making bestiality illegal in Washington.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or email@example.com