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May 26, 2012

Cruelty Charges Against Cesar Parra Dismissed

The Hunterdon County, N.J., prosecutor's office has dismissed animal cruelty charges against dressage trainer Cesar Parra in connection with a matter dating back to 2009.

"I really believed this would be the outcome from the beginning,'' said Parra.

After a complaint was lodged last March, four summonses against Parra were issued by the Hunterdon County SPCA. The allegations involved a horse that was injured while Parra was longeing him at his Piaffe Performance Farm in Whitehouse Station, N.J. However, Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony Kearns III said an investigation, which included multiple witness interviews, determined there was "insufficient evidence to proceed with criminal charges in the case."

Parra called the incident, "a very, very unfortunate accident."

A disorderly persons charge connected with the situation was dismissed because the statute of limitations on that is one year. Two civil complaints have been referred to the Readington Township Municipal Court.

Parra, a member of the 2011 U.S. Pan American Games gold medal team, also was sued by the owner of the horse involved in the incident. She claims the animal was incapacitated because of the way it was handled. Parra has countersued.

While the charges caused stress, the whole thing also made him realize what a strong team and group of friends and family he had supporting him.

Parra, a native of Colombia who became an American citizen in 2008, did note that while in the court he was innocent until proven guilty, in terms of "public opinion it doesn't really matter; you're guilty right on. I had friends calling me from Germany to find out when I was going to jail. It was outrageous."

He also was concerned what the publicity did to the image of the sport.

Now, he said, "I just want to live my life in peace and have this behind me. I love my horses, I love my students, I love what I do."

 
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