ALLOUEZ, WI (WTAQ) - Last weekend's controversial pig wrestling event put on by an Outagamie County church has drawn the ire of an animal rights group.
The group, called SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), showed video Thursday of several dozen alleged animal cruelty violations conducted by St. Patrick Catholic Church in Stephensville.
President and founder Steve Hindi says they found cruelty to animals, animal fighting and child neglect - specifically, juveniles encouraged to wallow in mud contaminated with animal feces and urine. Hindi says, under state law, spectators, organizers and participants could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
"I mean, somebody tell me what constitutes a fight if it's not that, and a fight between an animal and a human in Wisconsin is a felony," said Hindi. "We don't like animal abuse as an organization, we don't like corruption, we don't like people who lie and we don't like churches whose mission has been so thoroughly perverted."
Hindi showed a photo (above) that details a July 28, 1995 article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is which then Assistant District Attorney Mitchell Metropulos that the pig wrestling fundraiser, "could violate two state laws."
Asked why, if the event was canceled then, it has been allowed to continue every year?
"I have one word for situations like this...its corruption," said Hindi, who explained why he won't be filing a complaint with the Outagamie County Sheriff's Department. "The sheriff was marching in the parade...I think the sheriff is bent. I think it's the state police and the attorney general's office that needs to take a look at this."
Hindi says they're continuing to compile evidence from the video footage shot last weekend, and plans to issue that complaint sometime next week. He also walked with the media across the street from the Hawthorne Suites in Allouez to the Diocese of Green Bay chancery to try and meet with Bishop David Ricken.
Ricken wasn't available, but communications director Justine Lodl did speak with Hindi and his camera person. Lodl didn't speak with the media after the meeting, but did say, "We are going to review all of your materials and discuss this."
WTAQ sought comment from both Deacon Ken Bilgrien with St. Patrick Church and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson for reaction, but those efforts were unsuccessful.
Last Friday the Appleton Post-Crescent reported that Nelson came to the defense of the church, saying he's attended the roundup since he became county executive and has never watched the Pig Rassle. Nelson did attend on Sunday.
"He was shaking hands when people were going in the line, and I said I wanted to get a picture with you, he didn't know who I was," said Hindi. "We certainly will be speaking to him now."