No contest plea entered in Van Wert animal cruelty case

VAN WERT — A Van Wert man whose case was the target of animal rights protests last month outside the Van Wert County Courthouse pleaded no contest Monday to a first-degree misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals.

Elisha Secrist, 22, was indicted by a grand jury on June 4 on charges of cruelty to a companion animal, a felony of the fifth degree. Secrist accepted a deal from prosecutors to plead to the reduced charge.

Van Wert County Common Pleas Court Judge Martin Burchfield set sentencing for 8 a.m. Aug. 24. Secrist was released on surety bond with electronic house arrest. He was ordered to undergo further assessments/treatment at Westwood Behavioral Health Center in Van Wert and to have no contact with victims in the case.

Protesters, including representatives of the Allen County and Van Wert County humane societies and Deb’s Dogs in Lima, gathered outside the Van Wert Courthouse to protest on June 25 after being told Secrist could be released from jail the following day. That release did not happened.

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