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    Radio DJ politely defends boar slaughter

    Bubba the Love Sponge denies the animal was tormented. Experts say it was killed according to accepted custom and as humanely as possible.

    By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 28, 2002
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    TAMPA -- Bubba the Love Sponge Clem brought his best manners to the witness stand Wednesday. He wore a tasteful suit. He called people "sir." He answered questions politely and never raised his voice.

    And though he admitted to abusing people who call his radio show, and to hosting stunts like the milk challenge, in which people drink milk until they vomit, he did his best to offer the jury a new face: Bubba the humanitarian.

    He collects Christmas toys for needy kids, he said, by giving toy givers a glimpse of topless women. His regular "penis talk" radio show segment helps callers diagnose serious health problems.

    And when he hosted a "road kill barbecue" in the 98 Rock parking lot last February, Clem testified, he had a social purpose in mind: "To display where we get our meat and how we get it."

    Prosecutors contend Clem, 35, had ratings in mind when he broadcast the castration and slaughter of a wild boar at the event, and that the boar named Andy suffered a needlessly cruel death after being poked and prodded in a cage.

    During his cross-examination of Clem, prosecutor Darrell Dirks spoke of "the torment of Andy."

    "We didn't torment him," replied Clem, who is on trial for animal cruelty. He could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

    Also facing animal cruelty charges are Brent Hatley, Clem's producer; Paul Lauterberg, a hunter from Myakka City who brought the boar to the station and performed the castration and slaughter; and Daniel Brooks, a listener who helped hold the boar.

    On Wednesday, defense lawyers called wildlife experts to testify that Lauterberg's castration of the hog was "standard procedure," and that hunters slaughter hogs just that way all over the state.

    Dr. Robert Jackson, a veterinarian, testified that he would have done it the same way himself.

    "Death is never pleasant," he said, but in this case it was "as quick and painless as possible."

    Defense attorney J. Kevin Hayslett asked whether the swine in question resembled the cuddly pink ones in "Charlotte's Web" or "Babe." Feral hogs are aggressive animals that can grow tusks and frequently carry disease, Jackson explained.

    While Jackson acknowledged there is no scientific proof that castrating a hog just before its death improves the meat, he said hunters widely hold to that belief. And defense witness William Frankenberger, who once worked for the state agency that regulates fish and wildlife, said the state sponsored knife hunts of wild boars in the early 1970s.

    He called Lauterberg's castration of the boar "well done."

    The state's case took less than an hour to present Wednesday, and consisted of a videotape showing the boar's last minutes and an audiotape of Clem bantering about it. The prosecution rested its case without calling witnesses to refute the experts' testimony.

    Closing arguments are expected this morning.

    -- Christopher Goffard can be reached at 813-226-3337 or goffard@sptimes.com.

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