Nevada County man acquitted of animal cruelty
A Nevada County man acquitted Tuesday of allegations of the sexual assault of his black Labrador, Baby Girl, said he harbors no ill will against his accusers.
William Didomizio, 70, had been charged with misdemeanor sexual abuse of an animal after his former roommate, Gene Rouse, told authorities he caught him using a sex toy on the dog.
“In my heart I need to forgive (Rouse),” Didomizio said after being found not guilty by a Nevada County judge. “I need to not get mad, not get angry.”
Didomizio had waived his right to a jury trial, instead opting for a court trial in front of visiting Judge Christopher Chandler. During the trial Tuesday, Rouse testified he had entered Didomizio’s room at about 3 a.m. one night last year and saw him lying on his bed with Baby Girl. According to Rouse, Didomizio was holding a sex toy and had a clear liquid, possibly lubricant, on his hands.
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Veterinarian Cameron Thompson testified that he examined Baby Girl after she was seized by Animal Control officers. He found no evidence of rectal trauma, but did find evidence of chronic inflammation on the dog’s tail near her rectum.
Tom Strolle, the veterinarian who had treated Baby Girl for about five years, testified she had a recurring allergy problem. He described Didomizio as a conscientious dog owner.
In his summation of his ruling, the judge noted the case against Didomizio hung on Rouse’s testimony, calling him a “particularly challenging witness.”
Chandler noted there was a preexisting issue between the two men, including a restraining order. He also cited the length of time between the alleged incident and the reporting by Rouse as a factor affecting his credibility. Because the prosecution could not prove a crime occurred beyond a reasonable doubt, Chandler said, he found Didomizio not guilty.
This is not the end of Didomizio’s legal troubles, however. Last week he pleaded guilty to a felony count of failing to register as a sex offender and is set for sentencing on that charge on Nov. 25.
Nevada County Animal Control Officer Stefanie Geckler said that Didomizio can re-claim Baby Girl, once she is released as evidence in the case.
For his part, Didomizio said he wanted to reach out to the woman who fostered his dog.
“How heartless would I be to be angry at her?” he said. “I’m thankful she took care of my Baby Girl. I’m more than willing to have visitation with her, to work something out, if she wants.”
According to Didomizio, Rouse first made the claim about the incident — which he said happened in mid-September — at the end of October, after the two men got into a physical altercation.
An investigator for Didomizio’s attorney has said Rouse initially told him he saw Didomizio perform an act on the dog. However, Rouse later told the investigator he only thought it happened.
“I feel very grateful to the fact that the justice system was very honest,” Didomizio said. “I felt so good when I left the courtroom today.”
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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