The Texas pastor accused of imprisoning his neighbor's 12-year-old cat in a cage and then chucking him over a bridge was slapped with a civil lawsuit on Wednesday, demanding that he testify in a jury trial and fork over money to the cat's owners.
Rick Bartlett of Bastrop was charged with animal cruelty in January after joggers found Moody the cat clinging to life at the bottom of a 40-foot drop under a bridge, according to the negligence suit obtained by The Huffington Post. Later that day, Moody died from injuries suffered when he fell from the bridge.
Read the full lawsuit below.
Bartlett reportedly told cops that he'd left Moody -- whom he thought was a feral cat -- in a cage in the back of his truck and forgot about him for three days before bringing him to authorities. Bartlett allegedly told the animal control officer that he would bring Moody back to his neighbors.
The pads on the cat's paws had been ripped off as he tried to escape his cage over his three-day imprisonment, the lawsuit charges.
Bartlett allegedly told investigators that he opened the cage that fateful day on Jan. 15, and that Moody had decided to jump out of his truck just as he crossed the bridge, plunging to his own eventual, accidental death. The lawyer for Moody's family isn't convinced.
"If you were a cat and you'd been in that cage the whole time, and someone opened that cage, how long do you think you'd stay in that cage?" Attorney Bill Aleshire told The Huffington Post. "Would you stay long enough for the truck to start and cross the bridge, and then jump out? The story is a little hard to believe."
Moody's family is demanding that Bartlett testify in a jury trial over the cat's death, and that he pay an unspecified amount of damages. Bartlett's animal cruelty case is still pending.
In an interview with reporters in January, owner Sarah Bell recounted having to tell her 5-year-old daughter about Moody's death.
"She also asked me where Moody is now and I said, ‘Baby he’s in Heaven,’” she told KVUE.com.
“She knows the man who did this is a pastor at the Bastrop Christian Church and she said, ‘I don’t believe in Heaven anymore, Moody’s just dead.’”
NOTE: The Huffington Post has edited out the number and address of some parties involved in the lawsuit.