Fair Oaks Farms case: Witness says the video was coerced


New information released from the Newton County Prosecutor Attorney’s Office says the Animal Recovery Mission’s employee coerced the abuse depicted in the Fair Oaks Farms undercover investigation video, significantly undermining the credibility of the footage and shifting the negative spotlight toward the activist organization. The founder of ARM, however, is denying the claims that the employee had anything to do with the recorded abuse.

“A third party witness has come forward to corroborate the allegations made by a suspect that the ARM employee encouraged or coerced the behavior depicted in the portions of video that have been released publicly,” Newton County Prosecutor Jeff Drinski said in a Tuesday email to the Post-Tribune. “Detectives continue to investigate these claims through additional interviews and written discovery.”

ARM founder Richard Couto said, “The statement sent out by the Newton County’s Prosecutors Office that an ARM Investigator coerced or encouraged the abuse of innocent animals at Fair Oaks Farms couldn’t be further from the truth. The Newton County Sheriff’s and Prosecutors Office has yet to reach out to Animal Recovery Mission’s main witness in this case for any additional statement. For prosecutors to release such an unfounded and bogus information that is part of an open and ongoing criminal case, is not only unprofessional, but irresponsible, as it could have a negative effect on this very important criminal case. It is apparent that this prosecutor is attempting to divert public attention away from Fair Oaks Farms and Mike McCloskey in order to create doubt on a professionally put together investigation into Newton County.”

Three employees from Fair Oaks Farms face criminal charges. Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez was arrested and taken into custody June 12 by the Newton County Sheriff’s Office on a warrant for animal cruelty, which is a Class A misdemeanor. The other two suspects, Santiago Ruvalcaba Contreros and Miguel Angel Navarro Serrano, still face outstanding warrants for the same charges. 

ARM provided the police information of their undercover investigation, which the group claims ran from August to November 2018, on June 4, 2019.  

Since the release of the video, Fair Oaks Farms received a lot disappointment, hate, and angry feedback. What was once an educational and role model dairy farm, was now facing negative backlash. Fair Oaks Farms founder, Dr. Mike McCloskey, owned up immediately to the mistakes and explained the many steps they are taking to correct the actions of their employees in this heartfelt video. With this new information from the prosecutor office, the negative spotlight has now shifted towards the activist group and their credibility. 

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