Judge overrules plea deal, gives Sumas ‘zoophile’ more jail time

A man convicted of letting an English tourist have sex with his mastiff can no longer own dogs and must serve three months in jail, a Whatcom County judge ruled on Thursday, Dec.11.

Four-and-a-half years ago, federal and local authorities raided Exitpoint Stallions, a farm run by Douglas Bryan Spink, 43, on Reese Hill Road near Sumas. Animal control officers seized four horses, seven large-breed dogs, 13 mice and at least three videos of a British man, Stephen Clarke, having anal sex with Spink’s dogs: a Great Dane, a German shepherd and a mastiff.

Videos recorded inside Spink’s cabin captured Clarke talking about the dogs’ sexual prowess with another man off-camera, according to charging papers. A sheriff’s detective, who knew Spink from a past horse theft investigation, recognized that the off-camera voice belonged to Spink.

Clarke later served a 30-day jail sentence for animal cruelty. He was deported. Spink was thrown in prison because he was still on federal probation. But at the time local prosecutors said they had no plans to charge Spink. By then, he had already served roughly two years behind bars on federal charges of drug smuggling. He had been convicted in 2005 of taking five suitcases stuffed with cocaine worth an estimated $34 million across the Sumas border crossing, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Several times, he violated federal probation by lying to his probation officer, lying about his income and, in Sumas in 2010, running what investigators called a bestiality tourism website out of his home.

One condition of his release stated he could not associate with felons or anyone “engaged in criminal activity,” like Clarke.

In the meantime Spink had sent letters offering to help in the criminal defense of an inmate, James Michael Tait, accused of bestiality in Maury County, Tenn. Spink knew Tait as the cameraman in a notorious Enumclaw case in which a man died from internal injuries after a sex act with a horse. At the time, there was no state law on the books against human-animal sex. Public outcry led Washington state legislators in 2006 to unanimously pass a revised animal cruelty law banning sex with animals. Spink, a longtime advocate for “zoophilia,” that is, intimate cross-species relationships, once told a Bellingham Herald reporter he considered the law “bigotry.”

Spink served years in federal prison on numerous probation violations, in large part because of the Sumas case. Days before his release from federal prison, local prosecutors filed formal charges against Spink, in hopes of banning him from owning animals.

The Sumas case was pending when, earlier this year, Spink was found training horses and owning another large-breed dog in the backwoods of the Olympic Peninsula near Port Hadlock, while on a renewed probation. He served more prison time, until his federal supervision finally expired.

“All done with us,” the U.S. District Court judge, Richard S. Martinez, told him this year, according to court transcripts. “Hopefully we’ll never see you back here again.”

“The feeling is mutual,” Spink said.

At the same hearing, Spink told Judge Martinez he planned to challenge the constitutionality of the Whatcom County charges.

“I’m proud to be fighting that case,” Spink said. “I look forward to winning that case and to removing that statute from the books.”

On Thursday in Whatcom County Superior Court, however, Spink avoided a drawn-out legal battle and accepted a plea deal offered by Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Eric Richey. If he admitted to one count of animal cruelty in the first degree, the deal would be, Spink could never own dogs again in Washington state. But he’d serve no more jail time.

Spink entered an Alford plea, admitting there’s enough evidence that a jury could find him guilty but technically not admitting guilt. It’s still a conviction.

A judge can overrule the terms of a plea deal in exceptional cases, and moments after Spink pleaded, Judge Charles Snyder ordered him to serve 90 days in jail. Snyder said he hoped the time would send him a message.

“I think it does send a message: Don’t abuse animals in our community,” said Laura Clark, director of the Whatcom Humane Society.

Spink declined to talk with a reporter in a courthouse hallway Thursday. He must report to jail in January. He can still own other animals in Washington, such as horses, because of the way the statute was written at the time he committed the offense. Since then, the state law has changed. Animal abusers now can be banned from owning any animals, at a judge’s discretion.

The seven male dogs seized from Spink’s farm in Sumas — two German shepherds, two Great Danes, a Boerboel, a Bernese mountain dog and a Rottweiler — were neutered, rehabilitated and placed in new homes, according to the humane society. Two stallions were returned to former owners; the other two male horses were taken to Hope for Horses, a rescue in Snohomish County. The mice were euthanized.

Richey, the deputy prosecutor, has doubts that a ban on owning dogs will keep Spink from doing the same kind of thing again.

“There are places he could go where law enforcement might not care,” Richey said. “But we’re trying to protect our community.”