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Florida shock jock faces animal cruelty charges

By Jennifer Brite
Court TV

(Court TV) -- Florida's radio shock jock Todd Clem is known as "Bubba the Love Sponge" -- and for his outrageous antics on his popular Tampa talk show.

But many listeners -- and now prosecutors -- believe Clem failed to soak up the love when he aired his controversial "Roadkill Barbecue Show" one year ago.

On Monday, Clem, his producer, and two loyal listeners go on trial on felony charges of animal cruelty for a stunt in which one of the listeners castrated and slit the throat of a wild boar.

Prosecutors say the animal was inhumanely killed during the sensational event outside Tampa's WSTB-97.9's studio. The defense claims the animal was slaughtered in line with common hunting practices. If convicted of the animal abuse charges, Clem and the three others could face up to five years in prison.

"Hogs of that type are killed daily by land owners all over Florida," Clem's lawyer, Norman S. Canella said in an interview. "The meat was used for human consumption."

For thousands of years, Canella says, hunters for thousands of years have held the common belief that castration before a pig's death will take taint out of meat and that anesthetics are never used in the procedure.

The offending (to some) segment aired February 27, 2001.

The pig had been captured by a listener and brought to the parking lot of the station where a crowd waited. The pig was then slaughtered and people from the audience grilled it and ate it. Some even ate its testicles raw. Clem stayed in the studio and his producer gave him a play-by-play of the slaughter via cell phone. The entire incident was videotaped -- a tape the prosecution plans to use at trial -- and described over the radio.

Clem, Daniel Brooks, a member of the crowd who held down the pig, Paul D. Lauterburg, the man who killed the pig, and Bent Hatley, the show's producer, were arrested weeks after the stunt and will stand trial together Monday.

The disc jockey himself claims on his Web site that the prosecutor's office is only looking for revenge. Clem recently spoke out numerous times on his radio show against the prosecution's decision in a high-profile case not to try a 15-year-old accused of murder as an adult and to give him a plea bargain.

Hillsborough County Prosecutor Darrel Dirks was unavailable for comment. Lisa Lange, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said that the way in which the pig was slaughtered was illegal. Under the Florida State Humane Slaughter Act, she said, animals must be painlessly rendered unconscious before being killed. She said PETA would like to see Clem get the maximum sentence.

"He (Clem) sent a message to his listeners that abusing and killing animals for entertainment is okay," Lange said. "We need to show him the rest of the world thinks it is not."

Canella told that only slaughter houses that kill more than 25 hogs are covered by the statute not private individuals on private land.

But Lange also pointed out that similar cases of on-air radio animal abuse have been filed against the station's owner, Clear Channel Communications, in Wyoming and Colorado.

The company has responded to protests by listeners and animal rights groups by issuing a public apology conceding the stunt was tasteless and suspending Clem for 15 days. But it has not gone so far as to call the jockey's acts illegal.

Clem is well known for gross-out stunts including making listeners swallow goldfish and rat-gut shakes for a chance to win concert tickets. Clem could not be reached for comment.




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