Target of animal rights protest in Van Wert remains jailed

By J Swygart -

VAN WERT — A Van Wert man whose case was the target of animal rights protesters gathered outside the county courthouse on Thursday remained in jail after a telephonic pretrial hearing Friday morning.

Elisa Secrist, 22, was charged initially May 26 in Van Wert Municipal Court and was indicted by a grand jury on June 4 on charges of cruelty to a companion animal, a felony of the fifth degree.

According to Van Wert County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Steve Diller, an unspecified court-ordered evaluation was to have been submitted prior to Friday’s scheduled hearing. That report has not yet been issued, Diller said, and as a result no action was taken. Secrist remained in jail.

Protesters gaterhing outside the Van Wert Courthouse on Thursday included representatives of the Allen County and Van Wert County humane societies and Deb’s Dogs in Lima. A spokesperson for the group said they had been told that Secrist could be released from jail Friday after serving 35 days behind bars.

Diller, who declined to address specifics of the case, said no motions have been filed by defense Attorney John Hopkins to have his client released. Diller described the case as still being in its infancy.

The spokeswoman for the protesters said she has written to Ohio lawmakers to convince them that animal cruelty is a violent crime. Under the Ohio Revised Code, it is not currently considered as such.

By J Swygart

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