UPDATE: July 9, 2022 – After 10 hours of deliberation, the jury found Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer guilty of one count of Break and Enter each, and one count of Mischief each. Roy Sasano was acquitted.
The trial was cut short when Justice Verhoeven ruled that they would not be allowed to argue or show footage that Excelsior Hog Farm had engaged in unlawful animal cruelty. Despite this massive blow to The Excelsior 4's strategy, they found some victories. To read the full trial update, click here
In light of some questionable decisions by Justice Verhoeven throughout pre-trial and trial, and Abbotsford Police's sloppy work, Soranno and Schafer are exploring the possibility of appeals.
While the shorter-than-anticipated trial length will expectedly cut down on some lawyer's fees, the possibility of appeals will have the opposite effect. The good news is, an enormously generous donor matched our gofundme amount before trial ($60,475.00 USD) and has offered to continue matching donations from that point forward! We have adjusted the fundraising goal to reflect this.
UPDATE: May 25, 2022 – On March 28, 2022, The Excelsior 4’s pre-trial began. Although the activists preferred full transparency, the Justice ordered a publication ban for the pre-trial proceedings. Witnesses were called in and cross-examined, revealing a myriad of bias and misconduct against animals & activists. Pre-trial concluded on April 7, 2022.
On April 29, 2022 the Court Justice made rulings on the pre-trial applications. The Crown also announced the stay of Geoff Regier's case. Although Crown Counsel cannot provide an official explanation, charges were stayed following pre-trial arguments of misconduct on part of the BC SPCA. In 2019, Regier blew the whistle on Excelsior Hog Farm with documented evidence of criminal animal cruelty. Instead of recommending charges against Excelsior, the BC SPCA broke their confidentiality policy and turned Regier over to the Abbotsford Police, resulting in indictable offences.
Regier's charges getting dropped comes more than a year after a FOI disclosure revealed that the BC SPCA has no capacity to enforce animal cruelty at factory farms in BC
. The abuse carried out at Excelsior is just one example of the BC SPCA's failure to take enforcement action despite ample evidence of criminal animal cruelty.
The three remaining activists—Amy Soranno, Roy Sasano, and Nick Schafer—are scheduled to go to trial for four weeks in Abbotsford beginning June 27. The three face a combined total of 18 charges of Break & Enter and Criminal Mischief, and years in jail if convicted.
Although Regier's representation was pro bono, the fundraising goal has been decreased, due to the potential of a shorter trial length, fewer expert witness costs, private donations, and E4 tshirt sales
UPDATE: March 20, 2022 – Three years later, and the Excelsior 4 still face a combined 21 indictable charges, and mounting legal fees, all for revealing what happens to animals killed needlessly for food and for holding the industry accountable for criminal animal abuse.
As the trial proceedings rapidly approach, the activists have launched “E4” t-shirts, with the words “Liberate Animals, Decriminalize Activists” on the back, and a graphic of the defendants surrounding a pig. All proceeds help the Excelsior 4 cover their legal support. Click here
The activists will soon go to trial in the BC Supreme Court and face years in prison if convicted. Meanwhile, Excelsior Hog Farm has been left to continue abusing animals with zero consequences.
The activists hope their case encourages consumers to stop supporting these violent, abusive industries and adopt a plant-based diet. In a move towards greater accountability, they are also calling on BC’s Ministry of Agriculture to implement mandatory CCTV cameras
inside all animal farms & slaughterhouses, and to change animal law enforcement
from the BC SPCA to a more accountable government agency.
Pre-trial: March 28-April 8, 2022, New Westminister Supreme Court
Trial: June 27-July 21, 2022, Abbotsford Supreme Court
UPDATE: June 4, 2021 – Following several more court hearings between November-June, the Excelsior 4 have finally received their pre-trial & trial dates. In 2022, the activists will face trial by jury in the BC Supreme Court in Abbotsford. Meanwhile, the owners & operators of Excelsior Hog Farm have still not been charged or held accountable in any way for their well-documented abuse of animals.
Pre-trial: March 28-April 8, 2022
Trial: June 27-July 21, 2022
The exceptional length and complexity of this trial was unexpected. Although the lawyers for the Excelsior 4 are representing them at considerably reduced rates, with very low expenses, the activists still had to increase their fundraising goal, substantially. To help the Excelsior 4 cover their legal support, please contribute to this fundraiser.
Some of the costs associated with legal support for the Excelsior 4 trial include: Legal representation for a 6-week trial at legal aid rates or pro bono, expert witnesses, expenses at austere rates, disbursements, taxes.
UPDATE: November 2, 2020 – The Excelsior 4 attended their second court hearing after exposing criminal animal cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm. Amy Soranno, Nick Schafer, Roy Sasano, and Geoff Regier are facing an outrageous 21 indictable offences of Break and Enter and Mischief. Today they plead 'not guilty' to all charges. If convicted, they could face years in prison, with each Break and Enter carrying the potential of 10 years in jail.
“No legal repercussions could ever compare to what farmed animals endure - including the pigs who were repeatedly hit, kicked, brutally mutilated, and so much more at Excelsior,” said Amy Soranno.
After their court appearance, the activists joined supporters for a demonstration at the Vancouver HQ of the BCSPCA. The BCSPCA is failing to uphold their mandate to protect animals, and concerned citizens are demanding they take enforcement action against Excelsior for its well-documented abuse of animals. Instead, the BCSPCA breached their own confidentiality policy, and betrayed the animals, by turning in a whistleblower to the police despite zero requirement to do so.
[photography credit: Tosha Lobsinger]
Ultimately, we cannot have animal laws enforced by a charity, that lacks transparency & accountability, and that has relationships with animal agriculture. Someone needs to hold Excelsior accountable, whether its the BCSPCA or the government, but this routine legal & illegal animal cruelty must stop. The Excelsior 4 hope their trial will prompt reform in animal law and how it’s enforced.
UPDATE: September 3, 2020 – Today, Amy Soranno, Nick Schafer, Roy Sasano, and Geoff Regier made their first court appearance after exposing criminal animal cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm. Excelsior has still not faced repercussions for their illegal animal abuse. Instead, these 4 activists are facing extremely heavy-handed charges, which further proves the lack of transparency & accountability within animal agriculture.
[photography credit: Andrew Hill]
A group of supporters rallied outside of the courthouse, standing in solidarity with the animals and the Excelsior 4. Simultaneously, another group protested outside of the Abbotsford SPCA, calling for the organization to recommend animal cruelty charges against Excelsior Hog Farm.
UPDATE: August 4, 2020 – Amy Soranno has been summoned to court for 7 indictable offences. Unlike summary convictions, they are charging Amy with the highest criminal level in Canadian court, which are referred to as indictable offences. She had originally been scheduled to appear in court alone in August 2019, however it was postponed while an extensive investigation took place.
As a result of the investigation, 3 other activists are now also facing similar charges, with 21 counts in total between the 4 activists. Amy Soranno, Nick Schafer, Roy Sasano and Jeff Rigear are all scheduled to appear in Abbotsford Provincial Court September 3, 2020 after exposing criminal animal cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm.
These charges are very serious and these four activists require significant legal representation.
There is sure to be a massive amount of media attention around this case. The intention is to raise a ton of awareness and to take every opportunity possible to challenge public perception, and the legal system, surrounding farmed animals. These activists are challenging the lack of transparency and accountability within the animal agriculture industry, and hope to generate much-needed positive change for exploited animals. This is a huge opportunity for them to bring these issues to the forefront. They need our support to make that possible.
The funds raised through this GoFundMe will go towards the legal team representing the four activists in court.
September 30, 2019 - Amy Soranno is a full-time animal liberation activist who lives in Kelowna BC, Canada, however her activism has taken her across North America. Recently, Amy was arrested on a pig farm for exposing the realities of modern-day farming - that’s where this campaign comes in!
Bright and early on April 28, 2019, Amy and around 200 other activists conducted a "Meat The Victims" action by storming Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford, BC (click here
to see a video recap). They occupied the farm, sitting with the caged pregnant pigs, for approximately 7 hours. Excelsior eventually agreed to the activists negotiation of letting the media inside the farm to document the realities these pigs are forced to endure. This was not only Canada’s first "Meat The Victims" action, it was the ground-breaking first mass action of this kind here in our country!
What the activists saw inside that factory (farm) will haunt them forever. The distress, sounds, stench, and degree of suffering was unlike anything they had witnessed before. These pigs never experience fresh air, grass, or sunlight. Ever. They’re confined in a dark dirty concrete dungeon, unable to move or do anything that comes naturally to them. There were dead bodies scattered throughout the farm, and dumpsters full of dead pigs and piglets outside of the barns. The psychological distress these pigs exhibited was unignorable, and the physical pain was overwhelmingly apparent. Blood, cuts and open wounds were seen everywhere.
As a result of exposing the truth, and organizing this action, Amy was arrested for Break And Enter, Trespass, and Mischief. Everyone who entered the farm was arrested, however Amy was the only activist who was taken into custody and is facing charges. At the police station, she was fingerprinted, had her photo taken, and her phone was seized. Amy received a date to appear in court, with conditions to her arrest, stating she could not go to any farms or petting zoos in the whole province of British Columbia until my court date. A search warrant was also issued on her phone looking for anything pertaining to April 28th, the date of the action.
Amy was due to attend court on August 3, 2019; however, her court date was postponed while an extensive investigation took place. Since this time, more search warrants have been issued and new arrests have taken place.
Needless to say, the Abbotsford Police Department are putting an exorbitant amount of resources into this case. Despite documented criminal animal cruelty taking place at Excelsior Hog Farm, including footage
of workers kicking pigs, using electric prods on the faces of pigs, and tail-docking & castrating distressed piglets without anaesthetic, the Abbotsford PD are only interested in going after the activists who exposed the hidden cruelty.
The BCSPCA had been investigating multiple issues brought up by the videos, but has yet to recommend charges to Crown counsel.
Amy will continue to advocate for animals and expose their torturous realities, and she will use this court case as a platform to raise more awareness, and to generate mass media stories for the 20 million pigs that are brutally bred, confined, mutilated, tortured, and slaughtered each year in this country.
If this criminal case is won, this could lead to new ground-breaking laws set in place for exploited “farmed” animals here in Canada, and could potentially protect the general public from legal punishment when reporting animal cruelty on private property.
With the help of Amy's brilliant lawyer, Gary Grill, and with your help - donating towards her legal representation and sharing this story, she can continue to do the much-needed animal liberation work and challenge our legal and political systems surrounding farmed animals.