New charges in LI pet torture case
GARDEN CITY -- A New York woman accused of forcing her children to torture household pets and burying dozens of animals in her backyard has been indicted on charges of child endangerment, animal cruelty and animal torture, according to court records released Tuesday.
Sharon McDonough, 43, is scheduled to be arraigned on the upgraded charges Thursday in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead, on Long Island. Her attorney said she will plead not guilty.
A court Web site lists 12 new charges against the mother of seven. Six of the counts are for endangering the welfare of a child, all misdemeanors; she also faces two counts of felony aggravated cruelty to animals and four misdemeanor counts of torturing or injuring animals.
Details of the crimes were not revealed because the indictment remains under seal until Thursday; her attorney confirmed she faces an arraignment on the new charges. A spokesman for the district attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Defense attorney James D'Angelo said his client is not guilty.
"We intend to vigorously fight these charges," D'Angelo said.
He added that "she absolutely denies" that she forced her children to participate in torture.
McDonough was arrested in November on six misdemeanor animal cruelty counts after authorities found five dogs and a cat found crammed into cages, covered in feces and urine, their coats matted with filth. A Family Court judge removed custody of McDonough's six daughters, ranging in age from 18 months to 13 years, from the home.
Subsequent searches by the Suffolk County SPCA uncovered 42 animals buried in the backyard. Necropsies later determined that some of the animals' mouths had been duct taped shut.
Douglas McDonough, 21, who turned in his mother on Nov. 5, described the home as "a concentration camp for the animals." He claimed he and some of his siblings were present when animals were abused and killed. He did not immediately respond to an e-mail Tuesday seeking comment.
After McDonough's arrest, some neighbors feared the worst for pets that disappeared in recent months. But Roy Gross of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals later concluded that McDonough bought the animals or adopted them through shelters and other traditional outlets. Gross declined to comment Tuesday on the upgraded charges.
long island, garden city, animal abuse, animals, local news
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