Iowa: Torture of cat is less of a crime than driving a vehicle while intoxicated?

A judge, Sylvia Lewis, in Iowa city effectively decided that torturing a cat for more than 3 hours over two days is less of a crime then “operating while intoxicated”. Is this correct?

I won’t go into details about the cat torture but this young man whose name is Leo Nopoulos was in a drug induced psychosis brought about by sleep deprivation and the abuse of a multitude of drugs when he tortured his roommate’s cat over 2 days. There is video evidence.

The same man also drove a vehicle while intoxicated when he relapsed after a 30 day inpatient drug treatment plan. He was up before the court on criminal charges of animal abuse and animal torture together with operating while intoxicated and possession of cocaine.

The judge delivered a suspended two year prison sentence for the animal abuse and torture. This means that he will not go to prison but if he reoffends during the two-year period he will go to prison. In respect of the operating while intoxicated charge he was imprisoned for 30 days.

That indicates to me that the judge considers that operating a vehicle while intoxicated is more serious than animal abuse and torture.

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One reason why the judge made this decision is because she wanted Leo to continue with rehabilitation in order to see whether he could break his substance abuse. He was remorseful about his behaviour in respect of abusing the cat.

He said, “I’m completely beside myself with remorse and sorrow. I’m not a violent person at all. Our family is extreme animal lovers, particularly cats…To be honest, they are my favourite animal.”

Good words but bad deeds, I am afraid. So the severe abuse of this cat was due exclusively to his intoxication by drugs. It’s a reason but it should not mitigate against a proper sentence.

Assistant Johnson County attorney who argued for a prison term said that the cat went through “incredible suffering.”

“The nature of these offenses far outweighs the problems of substance abuse,” Lahey argued.

I wonder whether this is another example of how the courts, the legal system and the enforcers of the legal system treat animal abuse in general. My impression is that they tend to treat it as a relatively low priority crime simply because it concerns animals whereas driving a vehicle while intoxicated involves people and is obviously very dangerous to people.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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5 Responses

  1. jmuhj says:

    Of course I am prohibited from even expressing directly my thoughts and feelings except to say that where the law and those appointed/employed to uphold it fail, may true Justice prevail; and may someone with nothing to lose, of whom there are many, take out the trash very quickly.

  2. Rena Lee says:

    My apologies for not staying entirely on-topic, but have there been any updates on the status of the victim of the horrific abuse — Fritz the kitten, who lost an eye and was left blind in his remaining eye? It sounds as if his owner, who was Nopoulos’ roommate, is facing his own legal troubles so may not be able to provide proper care for Fritz.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Rena, I’ll check that out today. At the moment I don’t know. You are right to ask about the victim. Often the victim’s future and status is overlooked.

  3. Judith Pannebaker says:

    In the original story, the judge abdicated her responsibility to jail this worthless SOB because she wanted to allow this low life scum “to continue on his trajectory toward sobriety in the community.” Where pray is evidence Leo Nopoulos is on any trajectory other than a downward spiral that will result in the torture of more animals and eventually humans.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Yes, she wanted him to get better. But that did not stop her jailing him for the car offense. Perhaps the car offense has a mandatory sentence but I doubt it. She could have jailed him for the cat torture for 30 days to run concurrently with the other sentence or ideally chosen a longer sentence for the cat torture and sentenced him 30 days for the cat offense to run concurrently.

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