BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho attorney general’s office says it’s investigating an alleged animal cruelty case amid claims that a teacher fed a sick puppy to a snapping turtle in front of several students after school.
A document obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday following a public records request names Robert Crosland as the teacher.
Franklin County Prosecutor Vic Pearson cited a conflict of interest in requesting the attorney general’s help Friday, the document states.
Pearson reached on Wednesday by the AP declined to say the nature of the conflict of interest or offer any details about the investigation. He said he didn’t know Crosland.
“I’m conflicting myself out of this case, and we’ve referred it to the attorney general’s office,” he said.
The document released Wednesday said, “The AG will assume full responsibility for the case.”
Scott Graf, spokesman for Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, said the office wouldn’t comment on specifics of the case.
Crosland is a science teacher at Preston Junior High School in eastern Idaho. A message left for Crosland at the school wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday. The voice mail system for the Preston School District said it was full and not accepting more messages.
Several parents have come forward to say Crosland fed the puppy to the turtle on March 7.
The Idaho Humane Society said it has contacted local officials to offer its help. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals blasted Crosland, calling him a “bully who should not be allowed near impressionable young people.”
State officials last week seized the turtle and euthanized it as a nonnative species.
The uproar last week when the allegations first surfaced forced police to step up security amid threats at Preston Junior High School and other schools in the district.
Preston Police Chief Mike Peterson said Wednesday that those precautions aren’t in place this week.
“We’re back to business as normal,” he said. “We haven’t had near the phone calls.”
The Preston School Board is scheduled to meet Wednesday night, but it’s not clear if it will discuss the alleged animal cruelty case.
The 2004 teenage cult classic film “Napoleon Dynamite” was set in rural Preston, which has a population of about 5,200. The film portrays a shy and unpopular teenager helping his friend run for high school class president.