A witness says an undercover activist at Fair Oaks Farms told farm workers to abuse animals in order to get footage for his investigation. That’s what the Newton County prosecutor overseeing the case told multiple media outlets.
An official with the activist organization Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) calls the claim “laughable" and "absurd."
ARM founder Richard Couto says there’s no way that ARM’s investigator could have convinced experienced farm workers to abuse animals on his first day posing as a entry-level employee.
“It was very obvious that what they were doing — and was obvious in our video — that what they were doing was systematic. It was being done there well, well before the ARM undercover investigator was hired there,” he says.
Couto also questioned why the prosecutor would share information with the public during an ongoing police inquiry.
“It is highly unprofessional, it raises red flags all over the place. Really you have to ask yourself, ‘What is this prosecutor after?’” he says.
Before ARM released its video to the public, Couto says it gave a copy to the police. He says the Newton County Sheriff’s Office has not taken activists’ official statements in the case.
Indiana Public Broadcasting reached out to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office to confirm this, but were told the office cannot share details about an active investigation.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.