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The Enumclaw horse sex case was a 2005 incident in which Kenneth Pinyan (June 22, 1960 – July 2, 2005), an American Boeing engineer residing in Gig Harbor, died from injuries received during anal sex with a stallion at a farm in an unincorporated area in King County, Washington, near the city of Enumclaw. He had videotaped previous sex acts with the horses and distributed them informally under the name Mr. Hands.
During a July 2005 sex act, videotaped by a friend, he suffered a perforated colon and later died of his injuries. The story was reported in The Seattle Times and was one of that paper's most read stories of 2005. It was informally referred to as the "Enumclaw horse sex case".
Pinyan's death rapidly prompted the passing of a bill in Washington prohibiting both sex with animals and the videotaping of the same. Under current Washington law, bestiality is now a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
A documentary of the life and death of Pinyan, and the life led by those who came to the farm near Enumclaw, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival 2007 under the title Zoo. It was one of 16 winners out of 856 candidates for the festival, and played at numerous regional festivals in the United States thereafter. Following Sundance, it was also selected as one of the top five American films to be presented at the prestigious Directors Fortnight sidebar at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
The incident occurred at a 40-acre (16 ha) farm, located in an unincorporated area in King County, Washington, northwest of the city of Enumclaw. Pinyan, and a man named James Michael Tait (who lived in a trailer next to the farm), plus another unidentified man, often visited the farm to engage in sexual intercourse with the horses inside.
Prosecutors later determined that the horse, an Arabian stallion nicknamed "Big Dick" by the participants, had not been injured by being allowed to engage in sex in this manner. According to the Medical Examiner's Office, Pinyan "died of acute peritonitis due to perforation of the colon", and the death was ruled accidental.
Other factors surrounding the death were apparently that Pinyan, concerned about appearing in a hospital with an unusual internal injury and the effect on his security clearance as an engineer for aerospace company Boeing, had apparently refused his friends' urging to go to the hospital for several hours after being aware he was internally injured. He was anonymously dropped off at the Enumclaw Community Hospital. On July 2, 2005, a man asked hospital staff for medical assistance for his companion. Pinyan was found dead in the emergency room. The man who brought Pinyan into the hospital had disappeared by the time hospital staff came to contact him.
Media reports at the time of the trial suggested that despite seizing and examining carefully a large number of such videos from the property, no evidence of injury to the horses was found, precluding animal cruelty charges, and that the trespass charge against Tait were brought due to lack of grounds for any other matter:
It was only after Pinyan died, when law enforcement looked for one way to punish his associates, that the legality of bestiality in Washington State became an issue [...] The prosecutor's office wanted to charge Tait with animal abuse, but the police found no evidence of abused animals on the many videotapes they collected from his home. As there was no law against humanely fucking one horse, the prosecutors could only charge Tait with trespassing.
The prosecutor's office says no animal cruelty charges were filed because there was no evidence of injury to the horses.
After Pinyan died, the authorities used his driver's license to find acquaintances and relatives. Earlier news reports stated that the authorities had used surveillance camera footage to track down Pinyan's companion. Using the contacts, the authorities found the farm where the incident occurred.
Jennifer Sullivan, a Seattle Times staff reporter, said that originally the King County Sheriff's Department did not expect the newspaper to report on the event, because "it was too gruesome." After an Associated Press report stated that the farm where the event occurred attracted "a significant number of people" who wanted to partake in bestiality, the Seattle Times decided that it needed to write articles about the case, since multiple people were involved.
The media outlets that reported the story withheld Pinyan's name. His name was revealed on national radio by talk show host Tom Leykis in the summer of 2005. A video of Pinyan engaging in sexual acts with a horse circulated around the internet after Pinyan's death.
The photographer, 54-year-old James Michael Tait, was charged with criminal trespassing in the first degree, because the owners of the farm, a third party, were not aware that the men entered the property to engage in bestiality. The third man was not charged since he was not visible in the videos seized by investigators. Tait pleaded guilty, and Judge David Christie gave him a suspended one year sentence, a $300 fine, and one day of community service. The judge ordered Tait to never visit the farm again.
After Pinyan died, Pam Roach, a member of the Washington State Senate and a Republican from Auburn, crafted a bill that would ban bestiality in Washington State. Senate Bill 6417, which made bestiality a Class C felony, passed on February 11, 2006 with all 36 state senators voting for it. Bestiality had been legal in Washington state for 117 years, until the passing of the bill. Charles Mudede of The Stranger said "It was an almost comically easy law to pass." Bestiality had no political support in Washington state, and no group in Washington state advocated for bestiality. The law is RCW 16.52.205(3). Mudede said that reading RCW 16.52.205 "is very much like reading hardcore porn." In addition, the law prohibits "videotap[ing] a person engaged in a sexual act or sexual contact with an animal" "either alive or dead." Because of the provision against videotaping, Mudede said that the law "points an angry finger directly at James Tait."
In 2009 Tait and two other people were jailed in Maury County, Tennessee, accused of engaging in bestiality. In January 2010 Tait pleaded guilty in a Tennessee court to engaging in sexual acts with animals, and he was placed on probation.