Warrant: Animal abuse case against former Sorrento mayor details torture and abuse of cats _lowres

Wilson Longanecker Jr.

State investigators accused former Sorrento Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. of horrific torture and abuse of cats that includes choking one animal with a shoe string and apparently breaking the leg of another, newly released arrest warrant documents show.

Videos and images of the animal cruelty were stored on electronic devices found in Longanecker’s Main Street home in Sorrento on Oct. 23 as part of a child pornography probe into the one-time town official, an affidavit of probable cause says.

Some images show a cat with a bloody face and the fur ripped off, and blood coming from the nose and mouth.

Other images show a cat being choked by hand, then with a shoelace around the cat’s neck and then with duct tape placed around the cat’s mouth, nose and throat, the affidavit says.

In one video, a cat was blindfolded with duct tape and fell off a dresser while it walked.

Perhaps most disturbingly, the affidavit describes another video in which Longanecker, 42, picks up an orange-and-white cat and takes it off camera.

“An audible breaking sound can (be) heard followed (by) what sound(s) like a distressed cat’s meowing,” the affidavit says.

“The cat is then tossed to the floor in the camera’s view where (the cat) can clearly be seen having difficulty walking.”

Longanecker was arrested Dec. 29 on four counts of cruelty to animals and three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals on the basis of that warrant and supporting affidavit.

At the time, Longanecker had already been in Ascension Parish Prison near Donaldsonville since the Oct. 23 search, facing 42 counts of possessing child pornography and one count of obstruction of justice. His bail on those counts is $1.025 million.

The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, which spearheaded the investigation through its Cyber Crime Unit, provided a copy of the animal cruelty arrest warrant and affidavit of probable cause early Monday evening after a public records request from The Advocate last week.

The claims in the animal cruelty warrant and in formal charges that state prosecutors have already brought against Longanecker in the child porn case are only allegations.

He is presumed innocent unless those allegations are proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a far higher standard of proof than what was required to issue the arrest warrant against Longanecker or even formally charge him in the child porn case.

Longanecker’s arraignment, where he is expected to enter an initial plea to the pornography and obstruction charges, is set for 9 a.m. Jan. 20.

His defense attorney, Timothy Pujol, could not be reached for comment Monday night.

Twenty-Third Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin, whose office is prosecuting Longanecker, was not immediately able to comment on the warrant’s allegations Monday night.

The seven videos or groups of images of alleged animal cruelty described in the warrant are dated between Oct. 8, 2012, and Jan. 9, 2013, a time when Longanecker was still serving as mayor of Sorrento.

Longanecker, also a former town councilman, was mayor from mid-2011 to mid-2013 with a six-month hiatus from February to August 2012 while he was on medical leave for a problem with his foot and related ailments.

In addition to the seven videos or groups of images that investigators attribute to Longanecker’s actions, the affidavit says his electronic equipment also contained numerous videos of animals being abused that appeared to have been downloaded from the Internet.

Ashley Borel, who works in the Louisiana Attorney General’s Cybercrime Unit, testified in mid-November during a bail reduction hearing in Gonzales that Longanecker’s laptop hard drive and two flash drives containing 40 child pornography videos and one image of child pornography were found in a locked safe inside a closet in his upstairs bedroom.

Borel added then that investigators also had recovered a cellphone for which Longanecker has refused to give the pass code and which investigators had not been able to view at least until then.

According to Borel’s testimony and the bill of information prosecutors filed against Longanecker, the pornography images were of pre-teen children, some as young as 3 and 4 years old, engaged in various sexual acts with other children or with adults.

Longanecker, the son of former two-term town mayor Wilson Longanecker Sr., did not seek re-election as mayor in spring 2013 but opted for a failed bid to regain an at large seat on the Town Council.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.