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Thursday, March 2, 2006 - Page updated at 01:33 AM

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Lawmakers vote to make bestiality illegal in this state

Seattle Times staff reporter

State lawmakers weren't surprised that a bill outlawing bestiality — prompted by a Seattle man's publicized death last summer after he had sex with a horse — all but became law Wednesday evening.

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, began drafting the bill days after hearing that the dead man had been visiting an Enumclaw-area farm in her district that was a destination for people wanting to have sex with animals.

Roach's bill quietly sailed through both the House and Senate without objection, though Roach and other Olympia insiders say it generated a slew of one-line jokes. The measure now heads to Gov. Christine Gregoire, who is expected to sign it.

"This was one of the most-publicized bills in the country. How many laws do you hear Jay Leno monologue?" Roach said. "We want to be known for Walla Walla sweets, Boeing airplanes and the orcas in our sound."

When Gregoire signs the bill, Washington will become one of 37 states where bestiality is illegal, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Bestiality will become a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Because the Enumclaw case involved filming the sex acts, the measure also says that anyone videotaping could be convicted under animal-cruelty laws. People who allow bestiality on their property also could face prosecution.

The measure also says that anyone caught having sex with an animal also could be restricted from owning animals and required to undergo counseling.

On July 2, James Tait and the 45-year-old Seattle man went onto a neighbor's property to have sex with a horse, charging papers say. The Seattle man sustained a perforated colon and died from his injuries.

Tait, who authorities say helped run a nearby farm where people had sex with animals, pleaded guilty in November to criminal trespass.

He was given a one-year suspended sentence on condition he pay a $300 fine, perform eight hours of community service and have no contact with the owners of the horse in the incident.

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The horse owners said police showed them a home video of the incident that investigators had seized from Tait's home. The couple identified their barn and horse.

The Seattle man isn't being identified to protect his family's privacy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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