Preston, ID.   –   Preston Junior High teacher Robert Crosland, pleaded not guilty to a charges of animal cruelty on Tuesday in Franklin County Magistrate Court.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office first filed misdemeanor animal cruelty charges on June 1.

Crosland’s representation, Shane T. Reichert, stated that his client is innocent of the charge, while speaking to reporters on Tuesday. Reichert also claims that national exposure of the incident has caused personal harm to his client.

The incident which led to the cruelty charges took place on March 7th 2018, when Crosland allegedly fed a small sickly puppy to a turtle that he kept housed in a classroom tank. School was not in session when the incident took place but 3 students were present. Several parents came forward to report the incident.

Crosland’s actions became the center of a firestorm of media and social media attention, even internationally, with many onlookers calling for Crosland to be charged. Some family members, community members, and former students have spoke out in support of Crosland personally, while some have even defended his actions.

The Idaho Department of Agriculture later seized the turtle involved in the incident, and euthanized it, citing the animal as a non-native species, The department also claimed that Crosland didn’t have a permit to own the turtle.

If convicted, Crosland could serve up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine. A jury trial has been set for Oct. 26