A criminal investigation into a science teacher who fed a small puppy to a turtle has been turned over to the Idaho Attorney General.
Franklin County Prosecutor Vic Pearson recused himself from the case involving Preston Jr. High School teacher Robert Crosland due to a conflict of interest. Crosland is being investigated after he fed the sick puppy to a snapping turtle after school in front of several students earlier this month. The turtle was seized last week and the officials with the Idaho Department of Agriculture announced Friday it had been "humanely euthanized."
Pearson requested the help of Attorney General's Office on March 16, according to a letter obtained by EastIdahoNews.com. Crosland, who has not been charged, is being investigated for alleged animal cruelty. The letter indicates the Attorney General's criminal law division will review and investigate incident reports, make the decision whether to file charges or decline prosecution and handle the matter until it is resolved.
Franklin County will pay all out of pocket expenses incurred by the AG's office, including costs for witnesses, subpoenas and more.
EastIdahoNews.com first reported the turtle feeding incident on March 12. Since then, the story has gained worldwide attention and one online petition calling for Crosland to be fired has over 141,000 signatures. The Idaho Humane Society has asked for a thorough investigation and PETA issued a statement calling Crosland "a bully who should not be allowed near impressionable young people."
Many are standing with Crosland, who has been a longtime teacher in the district. A petition titled "We Support Crosland" has nearly 3,700 signatures and hundreds of parents, neighbors, current and former students have posted messages of support on social media.
A mother of two of the three boys in the classroom when the feeding happened told the Preston Citizen that the story has been blown out of proportion.
"If anyone has a right to be upset, it is me," Farahlyn Hansen told the paper. "I am not upset. I felt like it was the more humane thing for Robert to do than to just leave it (the puppy) to die…The puppy was dying."
It could take several months for the Attorney General's Office to conclude its investigation into Crosland.