Photo: Ben Lambert / Hearst Connecticut Media
The Litchfield Judicial District courthouse in Torrington.
The unusual case of a former Torrington man accused of sexually assaulting a dog will likely lead to a change in state law to clarify that it is illegal to have sexual contact with an animal or a deceased person, according to the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office.
Litchfield Superior Court Judge John Danaher dismissed the charges against Robert Hoetzl, 24, formerly of Torrington, on March 2 after his attorney pointed out that current state law defines sexual contact as contact with a human being, court papers said.
Hoetzl was charged May 17 with two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault in connection with incidents involving a dog and second-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a child in connection with incidents involving a female while she was ages 14 to 15 in 2018, according to court records.
He pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault on Feb. 28 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended after two years served.
A ruling issued by Danaher on March 2 stated that Hoetzl’s former girlfriend had given Torrington police videos of him having sexual contact with a dog.
According to the state law that defines fourth-degree sexual assault, it is illegal to have sexual contact with an animal, the judge said. But, Hoetzl’s attorney pointed out that the law that defines sexual contact does not mention the word animal and only stipulates that sexual contact occurs with a human being.
Danaher considered a prosecutor’s argument that the legislative intent was that it was illegal to have sexual contact with an animal, he said in his ruling. But ultimately, Danaher said, at times “a person” can interpreted as a community, companies or an association, but not an animal.
The Chief State’s Attorney’s Office is now seeking a change in the law that defines sexual contact to include with an animal or a deceased person.
Like all other legislation on the table, the change may not become law this legislative session since the General Assembly will not meet again until possibly early April due to concerns for the coronavirus pandemic.