By: Brian Orloff
“Welcome to York,” says York (Pa.) Daily Record managing editor Randy Parker about the truly Onion-esque story that ran in his paper today.
“Man Charged With Assault on Sheep” was the headline, and the true-life story, by Caryl Clarke, begins: “Somebody was making nighttime visits to farmer Terry Patterson’s sheep barn in the 600 block of Big Mount Road in Paradise Township.” It goes on to tell of a man arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a sheep after the barn owner installed a barn alarm and intercom system to prevent such attacks.
But there’s more. Clarke’s story details the police arrest report and ends with a pull-out box highlighting previous incidents of bestiality in York, including a 1997 case involving a live turkey in a food plant and a 1992 encounter between a man and a ram at the York Fair.
“It’s a fantastic news town,” Parker comments. “There are so many interesting stories. … We talk a lot about how for a medium-sized town … there’s just an endless array of stories.”
Clarke’s story ran in the local news section. It was based solely on police reports, Parker says, due to its sensitive — and possibly sensational — nature. “We did look for some ways to expand the view of it, but we ended up not finding anything beyond the police report,” Parker explains. “We were sensitive to the family nature of the newspaper, so we didn’t want to be salacious with it or draw perhaps inappropriate attention to it. But we knew that it would be of high interest and be talked about and be well read.”
The suspect, Bruce Charles Englar, 53, was charged with felony burglary and having sexual intercourse with a sheep. Englar’s defense? He said he was just petting the animal. But the paper noted: “Northern Regional Lt. Mark Bentzel said it was not a reasonable explanation for being inside somebody’s barn at 3 in the morning.”
Clarke’s story quotes Officer Patric Gartrell’s affidavit, which said: “I found baler’s twine in Englar’s back pocket, matching the twine that was hanging in the barn.” Clarke reported, “Police allege the twine was to be used to secure the sheep for sexual intercourse.”
Parker says that the paper has not yet received any comments from readers about the story, though previous incidents of bestiality — which were treated similarly in the newspaper — have drawn more high-profile public reaction.
“One of the earlier cases occurred at the York Fair, which is a very big event in the county, an old tradition — the fair, that is,” Parker says. “That got an awful lot of attention, so that one might have been played a little bit more prominently.”