Animal rights activist accused of writing blog posts calling for death of Wayne State researcher

Detroit Free Press
March 7, 2012Wayne State University professor Donal O’Leary should die, the blog post says — and not a quick death. It should be drawn out and painful, with no warning that it was coming.

The blog postings on the site “Negotiation is Over” are accompanied by the home address of and other personal information about O’Leary, who uses dogs in his research on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in humans.

Animal rights activist Camille Marino, 47, of Wildwood, Fla., is accused of writing the graphic posts, which include a litany of abuses she claims O’Leary committed against dogs, along with suggestions of what she wants to happen to O’Leary in return.

Experts say Marino — who waged “war” with O’Leary through her blog, in e-mails and on social media sites — is an emerging national voice in extreme animal rights circles. They say Marino, unlike other more mainstream animal activist groups, targets individual researchers.

Marino was arrested in Florida last month and is accused of violating a Wayne County Circuit Court order to remove O’Leary’s personal information from her blog. Court documents say Marino twice responded by republishing the addresses, leading to an arrest warrant.

“I am under severe stress and I am extremely concerned for the safety on not only myself, but also my students, technicians and fellow (WSU) employees,” O’Leary wrote in a court filing.

Marino will be in court this morning and is asking that the restraining order O’Leary has against her be dismissed. O’Leary wants the court to find her in contempt, which could land her in jail for up to 93 days.

Animal activist says she’ll ‘never relent’

Camille Marino’s attention was drawn to University of California, Los Angeles, neuroscientist J. David Jentsch after his car was firebombed in 2009, leading to national news media attention.

She learned about Wayne State University researcher Donal O’Leary last fall after a complaint was filed against him by the group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

The result of Marino’s attention was the same for both men — a series of blog posts detailing how they should suffer for their research involving animals, which Marino calls torture and murder on her blog, “Negotiation is Over.”

Both men got court orders for Marino to remove their home addresses and phone numbers from her blog, orders Marino is accused of ignoring.

This morning, Marino will be in a Wayne County courtroom, where she’s expected to argue that she has the right to publish that information and ask the court to strike the order. O’Leary is asking the court to sanction Marino for disobeying its order.

If found in contempt of court, Marino could face a fine and up to 93 days in jail. But the possibility of jail time isn’t causing her to waver.

“I am unequivocal about the fact that if we roll over when we’re attacked then we don’t belong here,” Marino said in a message posted on her Facebook page late Monday. “There is no honor in conceding to save oneself. I will never relent or retreat.”

Marino did not respond to a request for comment from the Free Press. O’Leary, through a WSU spokesman, declined to comment.

The allegations

In October, the Washington, D.C.-based PCRM filed a complaint with the federal government about experiments O’Leary, a cardiovascular researcher in WSU’s School of Medicine, was conducting on dogs.

The group alleged that a dog named Queenie had her chest cut open so experimenters could install devices inside her, and she was forced to run treadmill experiments with catheters protruding from her body and incisions leaking bodily fluids, causing pain and distress.

On June 29, 2010, Queenie — a former companion animal obtained from a Michigan animal shelter — was killed in the laboratory after one of the devices broke and retracted into her body, the group said.

WSU said in a statement that O’Leary’s lab was inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare and an internal group. They found “no evidence of noncompliance in Dr. O’Leary’s lab with the federal policy on humane care and use of laboratory animals,” the statement said.

WSU noted that O’Leary has an international reputation as a leader in cardiovascular research and serves on editorial boards of major scientific journals.

“Wayne State is dedicated to protecting its faculty and has barred Ms. Marino from its campus,” the statement said. “Professor O’Leary is engaged in important research to determine the causes of certain cardiac diseases. Ms. Marino disapproves of this and all research involving animals. Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century.”

Blog posts

Marino’s first blog post about O’Leary was Oct. 22. Titled, “Donal O’Leary: Federally-Funded Sadist Tortures Shelter Dogs to Death at Wayne State,” it included his home address and phone number, along with his WSU e-mail address, phone number and address.

The same day, she sent O’Leary an e-mail at his WSU address that included a link to her blog, court records show.

“I hope you never have another peaceful night’s sleep. … I hope you wake up in a cold sweat every time you hear a creek in your blood-money mansion,” the e-mail said. “Mostly, I hope you die a slow painful death comparable to those you forced your victims to endure. Please don’t interpret this as a threat. It’s merely my most fond wishes for you.”

The next day, court records show, Marino sent another e-mail to O’Leary and posted another blog entry.

In the comment section of that post, someone using the name “Freddie Kruger and The Grim Reaper” posted a detailed, graphic description of torturing O’Leary, including burying him in an isolation chamber, feeding him feces, ripping his teeth out of his mouth and hammering them into his skull, and a number of other actions.

Marino responded to the comment about two hours later, court files show.

“Is there any chance I can persuade you to videotape your proposed activism so that we might upload it to (Negotiation is Over) for the entire community to enjoy. … I would be elated to actually watch it!”

O’Leary filed a request for a personal protection order, which the court granted Oct. 31. The order bars Marino from posting O’Leary’s home information and was served on her in Florida on Nov. 3.

Hours after being served, Marino republished O’Leary’s home information, records show.

“You are a war criminal,” that post said. “Laws that protect you at the expense of the innocent are unjust and are, therefore, null and void.”

A hearing was set for Dec. 7 in Wayne County Circuit Court to determine whether Marino violated the restraining order and was in contempt of court, but she didn’t show up. The court issued a bench warrant for her arrest and set a new hearing for Jan. 5.

She didn’t show up for that hearing, and the court fined her more than $6,000. Seven days later, Marino republished O’Leary’s home information, according to court records.

On Feb. 4, Marino was arrested at a protest at the University of Florida. She was extradited to Michigan and was released on bond Monday.

‘These are real threats’

O’Leary is taking the threats seriously, court records show.

“(Marino) started a campaign of terror against me, both by herself and by inciting others to engage in violence against me,” he wrote in his request for a restraining order.

Jentsch, the UCLA neuroscientist, has been down this road. He said he began hearing from Marino after animal rights activists blew up his car in his driveway in 2009. That crime was not related to Marino or her group, he said.

The messages from Marino grew “increasingly rabid,” he said. Jentsch moved and weeks later, Marino posted a picture of his new house and address next to links to sites with instructions on how to defeat alarm systems.

He said Marino and her supporters have threatened other researchers, including one Jentsch worked with at UCLA and an undergraduate doing research work at the University of Florida, both of whom stopped their research.

“These are real threats. I absolutely have opened letters and had razor blades fall out,” he said. “A civil dialogue over whether animals should be used in research is one thing. This derails the whole conversation.”

Contact David Jesse: 313-222-8851 or