At midnight tonight, all of the animal cruelty and neglect charges against Joshua Rockwood will be officially dismissed, per the ACD agreement (Adjournment In Contemplation Of Dissmissal) agreement that ended his long nightmare earlier this year.
This is a big day for Joshua, the Glenville, N.Y., farmer accused of 13 counts of animal cruelty during the brutal winter of 2015. His life was upended when the secret informers of the animal rights movement reported him to the police for having frozen water tanks and barking dogs.
It is also a big day for the new social awakening, the new communities forming among animal lovers and people who work with animals to keep our way of life, and to keep animals among us.
As of tonight, all of the charges against him will officially be dismissed, but only after a harrowing couple of years in which he paid a fortune in legal fees, had to fight to get his horses back and nearly lost his farm. When he was arrested, the authorities wanted to put him in jail, no one has ever come back to check on the well-being of the animals who were supposedly so neglected.
Joshua will be celebrating his return to life this Saturday at his West Wind Acres Farm Festival. I’ll be there.
SIx months ago, Joshua (reluctantly) agreed to the ACD (called ACOD by non-criminal lawyers) in order to get his life back together. That meant that all of the ludicrous charges against him were dropped, except for one: failure to provide nourishment to a dog.
That was one of several of the bizarre charges lodged against him. Joshua kept the dog’s food at his farmhouse, a mile or so down the road from the barns were the dogs, sheep guard dogs, were kept. I saw the dogs days after his arrest, they were not malnourished in any way. Two vets were willing to testify to their good health.
An ACD is not a plea of guilty, nor is it a conviction, something often misunderstood. It is simply an adjournment and dismissal of the case in six months providing there are no additional charges or concerns raised by the police against the defendant. Prior to the ACD, the prosecutors tried several times to get Joshua to accept a plea deal, he refused. He said he would not plead guilty to anything he didn’t do.
In effect, an ACD is the way a judge can give a defendant the benefit of the doubt and toss a case out of court without formally throwing the case out of court, something that is embarrassing to prosecutors.
Obviously, if the authorities thought Joshua was starving his dogs or mistreating his other animals they would have returned to check on them. I saw them a number of times, I saw no signs of any mistreatment, illness or injury. When the police inspected his farm, they removed three of his horses. It took him many months and thousands of dollars to get them back.
Joshua was also charged with having frozen water tanks in -27 temperatures. They could have nailed me and many others for that as well during those awful winter weeks. Thousands of people, many of them farmers from all over the country, rallied to help Joshua pay his legal fees and build new water tanks and shelters for the farm.
I’m grateful to those many people who helped Joshua survive this ordeal, many people are not so fortunate.
Farmers everywhere report being harassed by the secret informers of the animal world, a kind of Stalinist twist to the animal rights movement.
Joshua is strong and honest and idealistic, I think his Farm Festival is a celebration of endurance and of a bright future for the farm. I’d love to toast his future tonight, he is part of the awakening spreading through the animal world, a new and truer understanding of animals.
He showed great strength and courage during the many hearings, awful publicity and cruel accusations against him. He has endured, and will thrive, I believe.
We are fighting to preserve a way of life, a way of loving and working with animals, a way of keeping animals in the world.