Todd Clem, Paul D. Lauterberg, Brent Lee Hatley and Daniel Brooks

Animal torture and slaughter

Tampa, FL

Feb. 27, 2001

Clem claimed the slaughter was to educate listeners about the origins of their food. The Prosecution claimed the men inflicted unnecessary pain while killing the pig during WTXB's "Roadkill Barbecue" show and that it was done purely for entertainment.

Under the Florida State Humane Slaughter Act an animal is supposed to be rendered unconscious before it is killed.

Florida Statutes 2001 Title XLVI 828.12 states

    1. A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both
    2. A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided n s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

The defense argued that state law allows people to inflict some pain on animals using horse racing and a state sponsored knife hunt of boars in the 1970's as an examples.

Clem testified in court about other stunts he's pulled on the air. One was called Drink Your Pee; another called Milk Challenge, in which people in his studio drink so much milk that they end up vomiting and another to swallow goldfish. Clem acknowledged on the witness stand, that the animal was castrated so that Lauterburg could eat the testicles raw. Clem further testified that he didn't kill the boar, he only broadcast the killing and that he had no feelings either way when asked if he enjoyed the killing. His goal, he said, is to keep his audience "riveted", no matter what.

Judge Ronald Ficarrotta ruled the jury shouldn't hear certain statements on the radio stations audiotape because they came from a listener who was never charged in the case. Also not allowed were remarks by Clem inviting listeners to drink shakes of gerbils, rats and other animals. Judge Ficarrotta stated that before the jury hears the tape, it must be limited primarily to comments by the co-defendants and remarks pertaining to the castration and death of the hog. No other "Barbecue" activities.

Earlier Judge Herbert Baumann, Jr. ruled that that public has the right to see the videotape from Clem's production company. Love Sponge Productions had planned to sell the videotape on Clem's pay-for-per-view website. Attorneys for the St. Petersburg Times and other organizations sought the tape's release.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Debra Behnke had recused herself from the case in August 2001 for a motion filed by Clem's attorney, Norman S. Cannella. The motion accused Judge Behnke of talking about the case at an office luncheon in July 2001 while pig earrings dangled from her ears. Judge Behnke recused herself, writing in her order that allegations were legally sufficient for disqualification but that her decision had little to do with whether she liked pigs or not. Judges are bound by law to grant a defendant's first request that a judge be disqualified--whether the accusations are true or not. The claims in the motion, she said, are hogwash. She also stated that she has earrings in the shape of turtles, dolphins and whales too. "I have an affinity for lots of thing," "I love children too, and nobody has asked me to disqualify myself from abuse and neglect cases." Cannella stated Clem didn't feel comfortable appearing before Behnke.

 Clear Channel's WXTB 97.9 FM radio disc jockey (Clem) Bubba the Love Sponge, age 35, was arrested on March 29th and charged for orchestrating an "on air roadkill barbecue" animal torture and slaughter of a boar. The live boar was castrated before its throat was slit in front of a crowd of onlookers including 2 Tampa police officers. 3 others, including the shows producer, were also arrested and charged.

 At his April 30th preliminary hearing, Clem of 5264 61st St. Ave. S., St. Petersburg entered a written plea of innocent. Lauterberg, Hatley and Brooks also pleaded innocent and were released on $10,000 bail. The men face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000 or both. Clem's attorney, Norman Cannella Sr., said the way the animal was killed was not cruel but common among hunters. Darrell Dirks, the prosecuting attorney has said that he will not cut a deal.

Clem also faces a charge that he roughed up Todd Leamon of Lithia, FL at a racetrack near Balm, FL on October 16th, 2001. The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office filed a single count of a misdemeanor battery against Clem in December 2001. Leamon claimed that Clem grabbed him by the shirt, picked him up off the ground and shoved him against the wall. An independent witness supports the Leamon's claim. He is scheduled to appear for an arraignment before County Judge Elvin Martinez on March 4th, 2002.

Daniel Brooks Brent Lee Hatley Paul Lauterberg

Paul Lauterberg (age 35) of Myakka City, hunted and trapped the wild boar and brought it into the parking lot of the radio station, then castrated (while conscious) and killed the boar (without anesthesia) as the shows producer Brent Hatley, (age 29) of St. Petersburg described the scene and Clem in the station's studio, played recorded pig squeals. Daniel Brooks (age 37) of Pinellas Park held the boar while it was being killed, while the boar's legs involuntarily twitching as the blood streamed from his neck.

Clem claimed the promotional stunt was ad libed. That it was not planned until the February 27th event. However the police investigation, Lauterberg called the radio station 2 weeks before and told Clem he would be bringing the boar to the station on February 27th.

Gary Morse a spokesman for the southwest regional office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Lakeland, says "hogs are routinely butchered for food but the way this was done was not routine, and though the animal may have been trapped by a hunter, no ethical hunter would have done this".

The castration and killing of the feral hog (wild boar) on the radio show may not have met Florida's statutory definitions of humane slaughter of livestock, says Ann Chynoweth, an attorney with the Humane Society of the United States. Also significant is the manner in which it was killed and for what purpose. The men tortured the animal and treated it cruelly. In addition the hog was killed primarily for entertainment and that is was "unnecessary", a word that appears repeatedly in Florida statute. So does the phrase "or causes the same to be done" -- that is why the other men are also charged

Clear Channel Communications (CCU) owns the radio station, and said in a statement it found the actions of Clem and the producer distasteful but not illegal. Clem was suspended without pay for 15 days but has returned to the air. Similar cases of on-air radio animal cruelty have been filed against the Clear Channel Communications in Wyoming and Colorado. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is also investigating the incident to see if it violated broadcast decency standards under Title 18 US Code, Section 1464.

Outraged animal advocates filed numerous petitions and letters to Judge Herbert J. Baumann of Division F County Court House and to Mark Ober, the District Attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in Tampa Florida as well as to the Clear Channel Communications group and their sponsors. Some 30 sponsors dropped there advertising. Clear Channel has developed a reputation of on-air animal cruelty; there have been at least 4 other instances. Prosecutors in Colorado recently sentenced Steven Meade another DJ to maximum jail time for tossing a live hen out of a 3rd-story windows.

Clear Channel (Corporate Offices in San Antonio Texas) needs to do more than suffer a hit in the pocketbook. This particular Shock Jock promotion was planned about 2 weeks prior to the February 27th event. The Clear Channel Executives can't claim to be surprised by the conduct of Clem (or of the other 3 incidents) for publicity and entertainment purposes. For this reason the FCC is also investigating the cases.

Animal Rights Advocates (ADAPTT, PETA etc.) campaigned and succeeded in hitting Clear Channel were it hurts, in their profits. Clem's stunt cost Clear Channel Communications so much money in lost advertising dollars as well as court fees. There were 6 defense lawyers hired.

 Clem's fan club website lists a short bio on Bubba stating the following: "Bubba did all the typical guy stuff growing up in a small midwestern town, sports, women, cars and so forth. Bubba screwed around in high school not applying himself and basically had to bribe a few teachers even to graduate. Because Indiana State is a State funded college, Bubba then proceeded to take his line of *@X*@X*@X* to the only college that had to accept him. After attending a full year with less than a D average, Bubba was kicked out of college.

After lying to his parents that he was still enrolled in college, he became a bouncer at a nightclub. A year later he interned with DJ Kerry Gray. After being hired and fired from almost every radio job he has ever had, Bubba finally found his radio niche and the rest is history."

Clem has legally changed his name to his DJ moniker "Bubba the Love Sponge". He is well known for gross-out stunts including having listeners swallow goldfish and rat-gut shakes for a chance to win concert tickets.

Court TV's Catherine Crier interviewed Clem on her show. Clem stated, "it's a wild feral pig. "It's a pest. You can hunt that kind of pig 365 days a year in Florida. Besides, I didn't kill it and the man who did was a professional that had killed over 400 hogs." Moments later Clem got angry and walked off the studio set.

After coming out of the Hillsborough County Courthouse, Clem stated he was plotting revenge against the State Attorney Mark Ober. "When you take a shot at the king you better kill him. And they didn't kill me" He promised to launch a voter registration drive to oust District Attorney Ober. "I think they underestimated who they were screwing with. I'm not trying to be cocky, but when election comes around, Mr. Ober will know who he screwed with".

It took the jury less than an hour to acquit the defendants. The jury foreman said there simply wasn't enough evidence to convict. Juror Donald Currie stated, "If my dog were in that cage we would have had a different decision". "I think it would have been nice if there had been more evidence presented".

Hatley, Clems show producer, called the verdict a victory for the First Amendment. But he said he is through with animal stunts. "I've learned there's ways to incite people, and ways not to", he said.

Update 2/28/02: Clem, Lauterberg, Hatley and Brooks were found not guilty, despite the overwhelming evidence (videotape etc.) showing the killing of a wild boar while on the air during a February 2001 broadcast. If they had been found guilty, the defendants could have faced up to 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. The videotape was played in court for the jurors.

Update 2/25/04:  Bubba the Love Sponge (aka Todd Clem) has been fired.  The FCC proposed a fine of $775,000 to Clear Channel Communications owner of the radio station.  Clear Channel agreed to fire Bubba after deciding his show didn’t fit the company’s standards.

The FCC wants to hit Clear Channel with the single largest fine ever proposed for indecency because of Bubba’s show which this time had included graphic discussions about sex and drugs.

The FCC had begun investigating Clear Channel Communications several years ago for shows Clear Channel’s shock jocks began airing, including the animal cruelty cases we have documented.

Now with the FCC hitting Clear Channel where it hurts most, we are encouraged that the policies of the communications company will be re-evaluated.

References:

The Naples Daily News

The Associated Press

PETA

ADAPTT

USFSETA

St. Petersburg Times

HSUS

Citizens Concerns

In Defense of Animals

The Philadelphia News

WTSP-TV 10 News

Reuters Limited

The New York Times

The National Enquirer

Court TV

The Tampa Tribune