CLEARWATER — The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office has declined to pursue a charge of animal cruelty under the state's new bestiality law against a man accused of having oral sex with a dog.
Clearwater police began investigating 29-year-old Eric Antunes earlier this year when they received a tip that he possessed child pornography. Antunes admitted to downloading and watching it on his computer, police said after his arrest.
Investigators searched his computer and said they found child pornography. In his cellphone, they discovered six photos of Antunes performing sexual acts with Ruby, a three-legged dog that belongs to his girlfriend, Katerina Williamson.
Antunes had worked as a contract employee at the Pinellas County Humane Society and Williamson was medical director there. She left that post days after Antunes was arrested May 1.
In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed a bill outlawing bestiality, a first-degree misdemeanor, by a unanimous vote.
But there is a gap in the law: It doesn't forbid oral sex with an animal.
Assistant State Attorney Beverly Andringa said her office declined to prosecute Antunes for bestiality because, out of the six photographs found on his cellphone, only one "would meet the strict criteria of the statute."
Officials also aren't certain when all the photos were taken. Some might have predated the new law.
Rick Chaboudy, executive director of the Suncoast Animal League, said the Legislature should "do away with the gray areas" in the law.
"We need to close up this loose loophole," he said. "This is one of those crimes that you can't possibly imagine that it goes on, but I'm sure at one point in time, somebody said the same thing about child pornography."
On Tuesday, Antunes stood outside his Clearwater home as dogs barked inside. He declined comment on the bestiality and child pornography accusations,.
His lawyer, Deborah Moss, did not return a call for comment Tuesday.
Antunes still faces three counts of possession, control or intentional viewing of child pornography, all third-degree felonies. His arraignment is scheduled for July 2.