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Selden woman pleads not guilty in animal cruelty case

Sharon McDonough leaves family court in Central Islip

Sharon McDonough leaves family court in Central Islip after her hearing in November. (Nov. 23, 2009) Credit: James Carbone

A Selden woman accused by her adult son of forcing her daughters to torture the family’s pets pleaded not guilty Thursday in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead to animal cruelty and child endangerment charges.

Sharon McDonough, 43, was ordered held on $100,000 bail by Judge James Hudson.

A Suffolk County grand jury Friday handed up a 13-count indictment accusing McDonough of mistreating five dogs and a cat, and endangering the welfare of her six daughters, who range from a year to 13 years old, between June 2006 and November.

Authorities last fall dug up about 42 animal carcasses in McDonough’s backyard.

The family’s dogs and the cat were taken from the home, and McDonough’s daughters were removed from her custody.

Assistant district attorney John Cortes said McDonough’s home was filled with a “pungent odor of excrement” near her daughter’s bedrooms, and she beat her 1-year-old daughter for crying.

Duct tape was wrapped around a dog’s mouth after it barked, Cortes said in court.

McDonough, whose husband died in a car accident in 2008, was charged with two felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, five counts of torturing or injuring animals, a misdemeanor, and six counts of child endangerment, also a misdemeanor.

McDonough’s son Doug, 21, told reporters in November that his mother forced his sisters to torture the animals. Those allegations were not made in court Thursday.

The indictment said McDonough “knowingly acted in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare” of her daughters from June 1, 2008, to Aug. 1, 2009.

According to the indictment, McDonough intentionally killed or injured a pet “with no justifiable purpose” in June 2006, and again on Nov. 2 or 3 last year.

Cortes said McDonough was charged with animal cruelty “for killing her own pets, which she did in the presence of her own children.”.

>> PHOTOS: Click here to see photos from McDonough's home, and the investigation

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