Repeat Offender Facing Charges in Hoarding Case

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Update 11/22/10
On October 19, 2010, Gina Rapuano pleaded guilty to 18 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty – she is currently scheduled to be sentenced on December 17, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.  Paul Novicki’s next pretrial hearing date is scheduled for November 23, 2010.

Update 4/23/10
Recently arrested yet again, the criminal case against Paul Novicki continues with an upcoming court date of June 24, 2010. A pre-trial hearing in the Gina Rapuano case is scheduled for June 30, 2010.

Update 2/9/10
The Connecticut Attorney General was successful in obtaining a court order which permanently bans Paul Novicki from “owning, possessing or controlling any animal or leasing out his property to possess, control or house animals.” 

“Conviction after conviction was no deterrence against continued abuse, demanding a permanent order forever barring Novicki from owning or even overseeing animals. My office will continue to work with the Department of Agriculture to ensure that Novicki complies with this order.”  Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

The current criminal case against Paul Novicki and Gina Rapuano continues in New Haven, locals are encouraged to support the prosecution by attending.

Update 1/29/10

The recent seizure of yet more animals from Paul Novicki has Connecticut’s Attorney General calling Novicki a serial animal abuser and “fighting to protect and permanently take these latest animals seized, obtain money for their care and block harm to future animals.” This case was heard on February 8, 2010 in Hartford Superior Court.

(New Haven, CT)  In December 2009, over 35 animals – including 19 horses and three mules – were seized by authorities from alleged neglect which reportedly included filthy and hazardous stable conditions, inadequate food and water, and failure to provide veterinary care. Paul Anthony Novicki and Rambling River Ranch owner Gina S. Rapuano are now facing a total of 33 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, with Ms. Rapuano additionally facing multiple felony counts of forgery and evidence-tampering. The animals have since been forfeited over to authorities and are recovering.  

Online records reflect previous animal cruelty cases against  Paul Novicki who was convicted in 2003, 2006 and 2008, with various probation violations resulting in additional arrests.

The recidivism rate among animal hoarders approaches 100%. While the criminal justice system may not be the ideal venue for accomplishing mental health interventions, the cyclical criminal suffering of so many animals demands the participation of the courts – where psychological treatment should be meaningfully pursued. The pathology of animal hoarding is not fully understood, and the method of treatment should be deliberately considered case by case. The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC), among its other resources, has released a paper which seeks to inform therapists who find themselves addressing a case of animal hoarding.

While animal hoarding is usually presented in the context of cats and dogs, it is not uncommon for farmed animals to be victimized by this type of abuse. Indeed, given the rural, often remote locations chosen by animal hoarders, and the added demands of large animal care requirements, discovery and intervention in these cases is all the more challenging for humane agents. Those who hoard horses often present themselves as “rescuers” who are nursing animals who reportedly came to them malnourished – this claim will often impede an investigation’s progress, at least temporarily. Though seemingly impossible given how limited their means usually appear, some hoarders are capable of relocating quickly to avoid law enforcement, moving themselves and their horses virtually overnight.

How You Can Help

Send polite letters to the State’s Attorney, thanking him for a strong and thorough prosecution against Paul Novicki and Gina Rapuano. Ask him to push for tough, meaningful sentences upon conviction that address Mr. Novicki’s history with animal neglect and the high recidivism rates among animal hoarders.

Locals may support the prosecution by attending court proceedings. Upcoming New Haven court dates are currently scheduled for November 23, 2010 in the Paul Novicki case, and December 17, 2010 in the Gina Rapuano case. (Always contact the Court to confirm court dates and locations as they are subject to change.)

Work with your state legislators toward a
“First Strike and You’re Out” law. ALDF drafted this model law to address the issue of repeat offenders and the cruel and costly toll they take on their communities.

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Article source: IFAW

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