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Florida veterinarian pleads guilty to child porn, making sex videos with dogs

The former director of Caring Hands Animal Hospital is accused of collecting child pornography and sexually abusing animals in his care.

(CN) — A South Florida veterinarian has admitted in court that he repeatedly had sex with dogs on camera and possessed a large collection of child pornography.

Prentiss Madden, former medical director of the Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Aventura, Florida, entered his guilty plea in federal court Thursday on four child pornography-related counts and one count of violating federal animal cruelty law.

Madden faces a mandatory five-year sentence, with the possibility of receiving more than 80 years in prison.

He had been listed as the popular animal hospital's director up until he was criminally charged in March 2021. 

Investigators keyed in on him last year after receiving a tip from Dropbox Inc. via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Madden had been using Dropbox's online file-sharing platform to amass a collection of hundreds of child pornography files.

Madden registered his Dropbox account under the name "[email protected]" But law enforcement agents were able to easily uncover his identity with an investigative subpoena, which revealed that he had linked the email to his personal phone number and another email address at [email protected] The agents identified Madden's local web IP addresses and discovered that he had been visiting the disturbing Dropbox files from home and at Caring Hands Animal Hospital.

When investigators searched through Madden's online folders, they found a horrific cache of videos, including some depicting adults engaged in sex acts with infants. Federal agents uncovered social media chats where Madden had allegedly bragged about having sex with an underage boy, calling him "the little dumb 15 yr old."

The then-veterinarian was also going online under a pseudonym to share videos of himself having sex with dogs. Referring to one of the abused animals, he wrote during an online chat, "I was keeping a dog that needed a home," according to court documents. He purportedly once said that he used sedation to keep an animal calm for his bestiality sessions.

Investigators suggested that at least one video of Madden engaging in bestiality was geolocated to Caring Hands Animal Hospital. This indicated to Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Leah Ortiz that Madden "may be abusing animals entrusted to his care," the agent wrote in an affidavit.

Madden was arrested and on March 12 was charged with felony sex crimes. A magistrate judge refused to release him from custody while the criminal proceedings were playing out.

"It appears that the Defendant has engaged in very compulsive behavior, rooted in a serious psychological disorder, and the Court is not persuaded that if the Defendant receives treatment while on pretrial release that it will prevent him from continuing endanger to children and animals," U.S. Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley wrote. 

With his guilty plea now entered, Madden's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 8, 2021 before U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez in the Southern District of Florida.

The case was brought by Homeland Security Investigations along with the Miami-Dade Police Department as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative against child abuse.  

At the time of his arrest, Madden's bio on Caring Hands' website described him as an Alabama native and "the proud pet parent of one Shih Tzu, Lucky, and two Burmese pythons, Mocha and Sherbert."

"In his free time he enjoys traveling, eating, hiking, snorkeling and being an aquarium hobbyist,” the bio said.

Following Madden's arrest, Caring Hands released a statement maintaining that it had fired him upon learning he was under investigation for sex crimes.

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