L.I. Mom Accused In Pet Torture Case Pleads Guilty

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (1010 WINS/AP) — A woman tearfully admitted Thursday that she abused her children and dozens of pets, sometimes torturing dogs and cats to death in the presence of six young daughters in a home that her son described as “a concentration camp for the animals.”

Sharon McDonough, 44, pleaded guilty to a 13-count indictment charging her with animal abuse and child endangerment.

Suffolk County Court Judge C. Randall Hinrichs said he would sentence McDonough on March 28 to a two-year maximum term. McDonough has been held on $100,000 bail since her arrest in December 2009; the time she has served will count toward her sentence and she is expected to be freed in April or May.

Court-appointed defense attorney Christopher Brocato said McDonough pleaded guilty to all the charges to save her children from having to testify at her trial. “She knows there’s no excuse,” Brocato said. “I can’t imagine she’s not going to be a welcome sight in the community when she gets out.”

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera talks with the McDonough’s lawyer who says he’s received a lot of hate mail directed at her

Of McDonough’s possible explanation for her actions or her mental state, Brocato said: “She’s had some issues in her life. I’m not a psychiatrist, but she’s tormented by what happened and is willing to take the blame.”

He noted that McDonough’s husband was killed in a car accident in 2008. He added that his office and prosecutors collectively have received about 200 “hate mail” messages condemning McDonough’s actions.

No members of her family, including her six daughters, attended the hearing. The girls, all younger than 13 when McDonough was arrested, are in the custody of Family Court; prosecutors said they are prevented by law from discussing their current status.

Assistant District Attorney John Cortes said he will ask the judge to issue an order of protection when she is sentenced, requiring McDonough to not contact the children after her release.

McDonough killed numerous kittens and dogs, stashing the dead cats in the trash, and burying 42 dead dogs in the backyard of her home in Selden, prosecutors said. The dogs were buried because some had identifying microchips implanted in them and McDonough feared being discovered if the carcasses were found in the trash, they said.

The children were not only abused, but were forced to witness the deaths of family pets. They lived amid filthy conditions from the animals who were kept in wretched cages that were filled with urine and feces, the prosecutor said.

She admitted in one instance to placing duct tape over the mouth of a cat and hanging it from the ladder of one her daughter’s bunk beds until it died.

The children were barred from using a bathroom in the home and were forced to defecate and urinate in buckets, McDonough admitted in court Thursday. She also said the children were not allowed to take showers and cleaned themselves with cloth wipes.

Prosecutors said they were alerted to the conditions at the home by McDonough’s adult son, Douglas, who had moved out.

He told authorities the children were forced to subsist on peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. At one point, he brought his sisters frozen TV dinners but later learned that his mother had confiscated the food.

He described the home as “a concentration camp for the animals.”

McDonough faces two years on the animal cruelty charges, but only a one-year term for the child endangerment offenses because they are misdemeanors, prosecutors said.

“For the past five years we have urged state lawmakers to approve legislation that would make child endangerment a felony,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a statement.

“She repeatedly terrified her six daughters by torturing and killing animals in their presence and that crime should be a felony punishable by imprisonment in an upstate correctional facility.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • Maria

    That is just sick when I read this it made me sick to my stomach I hope she stays locked up for life and never gets to see her children again cuz those girls deserve so much better and abusing animals is cruel that is upsetting how dumb is this lady better yet she needs death row not no two years even tho it aint happening!

  • sj

    I hope she suffers a long painful horrific death. That is the only justice for this poor excuse of a human being. I love that she blames the death of her husband for part of her mental state, so pathetic.

  • Alison

    Whoever tortures should be tortured back!!!

  • jeri

    She should’ve gotten so much longer. Sentence was way too light!



    • Erica Eblin

      Seriously – saying something like that does nothing to help the image of pit bull type dogs…….maybe you should THINK prior to talking or should I say typing. Pit bull type dogs are NOT mean, vicious killers!

      • Picky Smeckly

        My pit would just lick her repeatedly so that would not work…please stop giving pittie a bad rep!!

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