Former Baywatch star cleared of theft charges for rescuing chickens

Alexandra Paul cleared of theft charges for rescuing chickens
Sick chickens at factory farm, photo: Canva

Former Baywatch star Alexandra Paul and factory farm investigator Alicia Santurio were found not guilty on Friday of misdemeanor theft by a Merced County jury in the United States. “This is a historic victory in the fight for the Right To Rescue,” animal rights organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) said.

The charges came from Paul and Santurio’s actions in September 2021 when they rescued two sick chickens from a truck from American meat producer Foster Farms.

The rescue, recorded by DxE, showed Paul and Santurio running up to a truck full of chickens outside Foster Farms’ slaughterhouse in Livingston in California. They grabbed two chickens from cages stacked on each other, rescuing the animals from being killed. Paul and Santurio were charged with misdemeanor petty theft.

On the same day as the rescue, DxE released hidden camera footage of Foster Farms chickens inside the slaughterhouse: chickens routinely missed the stun bath and a device designed to cut their necks, making them conscious before slaughter. The slaughterhouse kills 140 chickens per minute.

Both Paul and Santurio faced up to 6 months in jail if they were found guilty. They were offered five plea deals but declined. “When I think about the consequences for me, they are minimal compared to what the animals are going through,” Paul said. 

The trial started on March 7, and it took ten days for a not-guilty verdict.


“The only reason people like us go into these places is because law enforcement and the government aren’t helping these animals. No one is comfortable with abusing animals, even if they are chickens, and I think the jury understood that,” Paul said after the verdict.

She said the two rescued chickens, Ethan and Jax, received medical attention after their rescue and were found to be sick, with Ethan dying a few days later. 

A necropsy report from the Univeristy of California (UC) Davis found that Ethan had enterococcus faeciumE. coli and infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), the coronavirus of chickens.

“People who rescue animals that are sick and suffering are showing their faces and wanting the world to know what they are doing. We have nothing to hide; we are doing what is moral and legal,” Cassie King, a spokesperson for DxE, said, calling the court decision a victory for “open rescue.”

During her trial, Alexandra Paul said, “the only reason that people know what’s happening to animals in these places — in factory farms, in labs or behind circus doors — is because of animal rights activists.” 

She added that she would rescue animals again if necessary but that she “can’t rescue them all. And we are hoping that public opinion will be the thing that turns the tide.”

In October 2022, two other DxE members, Paul Darwin Picklesimer and lawyer Wayne Hsiung, were acquitted in Utah after rescuing piglets Lizzie and Lily from a factory owned by pork giant Smithfield Foods.

   

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