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Man who pleaded guilty to animal abuse sentenced to 12 years

Prosecutors said while Nathaniel Stark was living with his girlfriend, two of her cats died and her dog was severely beaten.

BOULDER, Colo. — A convicted sex offender who pleaded guilty in May to an animal cruelty charge has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

According to a release from the Boulder County District Attorney's Office, Nathaniel Stark was living with his girlfriend in August 2019 when her pets began showing signs of injuries.

Within three months of them living together, two of her cats died. Veterinarians concluded that one of the cats' injuries were not inflicted by another animal but rather by head trauma and strangulation, the DA's Office said.

In February 2020, Stark severely beat his girlfriend's dog, prosecutors said. Veterinarians saw a significant amount of bruising between the dog's hind legs that appeared to be caused by abuse. There was also deep bruising on the dog's back above her hind legs, according to the release. 

The dog was removed from their custody, and Stark was arrested in October 2020 for violating bond for having contact with animals, the release said. After his arrest and while the cases were pending, Stark fled the state but was later extradited back to Colorado.

In May 2022, Stark pleaded guilty to one felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals. Stark, who had previously been designated as a sexually violent predator, also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to verify his location.

On Friday, Stark was sentenced to 12 years in state prison. 

“The defendant’s abuse of his partner’s animals in this case was just one act of violence in his criminal history," said Deputy District Attorney Jenny McClintock in a statement. "It is important to take these cases seriously as they involve victims who have no voice and are often used as coercive controlling tactics in a domestic violence relationship. We are pleased with the sentence that the court imposed and want to thank our law enforcement partners for the exceptional investigation in this case.”

District Attorney Michael Dougherty said, “This case involved terrible conduct against animals. Given his prior conduct and the cruel acts involving his partner’s pets, the defendant clearly presented a risk to others. That’s why we have a prosecutor who specializes in cases involving animal cruelty. I appreciate all the hard work by Jenny McClintock and law enforcement in this Aggravated Cruelty to Animals case. With this lengthy prison sentence, this defendant is being held responsible for his conduct.”

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