A homeless man told police he was high on meth when he sexually assaulted an injured beaver in Columbia Park last weekend.
Richard M. Delp, 35, is charged in Benton County Superior Court with first-degree animal cruelty and possession of methamphetamine.
On Friday, he tried to plead guilty at his first court appearance but was advised he should wait so he could have a full discussion with his court-appointed attorney about what sentence he could be facing.
He continues to be held in jail on $5,000 bail.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Delp was arrested on Labor Day after a woman found him in the Kennewick part of the park next to the beaver.
The woman later told Officer Zach Moore that she had come across a beaver that appeared to be injured, but was still breathing. She believed the animal had been hit by a car.
She went home to get a box so she could carry the injured animal to a veterinarian or some agency that could provide medical aid, according to police and court documents.
When she returned, she first thought the man was on the ground cuddling with the beaver, but got closer and discovered he was partially clothed.
The woman asked what he was doing, and Delp replied, “It’s just a beaver,” documents said.
Once Officer Moore arrived, Delp was gone and the beaver was dead.
He was given a distinct description of the suspect and located Delp farther down the trail in the park.
Delp admitted having sexual contact with the wild animal and went into specifics for the officer, court documents said.
While arresting Delp, the officer found a loaded syringe with meth.