A Neighbor's Camera Puts Kevin Deschene in the Doghouse

updated 04/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Kevin Deschene is not your typical kid next door. Last September he was convicted of drug possession and burglarizing six houses—one of them the home of Jim Molloy, his neighbor in Lowell, Mass. But Deschene, 19, was guilty of another crime that disturbed his neighbors even more. Molloy, a 31-year-old electrician's assistant, had heard from his parents, with whom he lives, that Deschene regularly beat his dog, a German shepherd mix called Champ.

Molloy, fearing that any complaint he lodged would be dismissed as mere vengefulness, decided he needed proof. Last November he got it. He was looking out a window into the Deschene yard when, he says, he saw Deschene take Champ by the scruff of the neck and punch him in the face. "I couldn't believe it," he says. By the time Deschene began hitting the dog with a plank, Molloy had grabbed his 35-mm Minolta camera and started shooting. "He would hit it on the head with the board and keep doing it until the dog put its head down," says Molloy.

During a beating that Molloy says lasted an hour, he took 30 snapshots that became the core of the testimony in a three-hour trial. Found guilty of cruelty to an animal, Deschene was fined $500 and sentenced to six months in Middlesex County jail. Lowell Humane Society officials, who took possession of the dog, say it is the state's first animal-cruelty case to result in incarceration in more than 20 years.

The Deschene family defends their son. "Kevin never beat that dog," says Barbara Deschene, his mother. "He was only disciplining it." And Kevin himself told the Lowell Sun in January, "I was smacking him because he ripped up the garbage and dragged it all over the yard. I shouldn't have hit him, but it was the third time I got woken up because of him, but I never beat the dog."

The Deschenes will be back in court May 4 to try to regain custody of Champ. If they succeed, Jim Molloy wants them to know that he has his camera reloaded and that he's ready to shoot again.

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