- freeimages.com/lusiFour animal rights activists who are suspected of photographing a Utah pig farm have been charged under the state's ag gag law.
Four animal rights activists who photographed a Utah pig farm in September 2014 may be the first defendants prosecuted under the state’s "ag gag" law.
Robert Penney, 64; Sarah Jane Hardt, 43; Harold Weiss, 34; and Bryan Monell, 50, all California residents, have each been charged in Iron County Justice Court with one count each of class B misdemeanor criminal trespassing on agricultural land, and agricultural operation interference.
The suspects, who are with the Farm Animals Rights Movements, were aware that Utah had an ag gag law — which makes undercover investigations and surreptitious recording of animal agricultural operations a crime — and were planning to take photos of the farm from public areas.
Hardt told reporters she and the other animal rights activists were planning to document the trek that truckloads of pigs took from the Utah farm to a downtown Los Angeles slaughterhouse. She asserts they did not enter the property that was photographed.
A witness had apparently alerted local authorities about the group near the farm, and they were detained by deputies from the Beaver County and Iron County sheriff’s offices for five hours. They were never arrested, Hardt said, but they were given citations.
The four suspects are scheduled to make their first appearances in the justice court in Parowan on January 7.
The law was passed by the Utah legislature in 2012.