FACT CHECK:   Was a Florida man arrested for having sex with an alligator?

Claim:   A Florida man was arrested for having sex with an alligator.

   FALSE

Example:     [Collected via e-mail, July 2015]

I saw this article about a man named Rupert Darwin 59 being arrested for having sex with an alligator. It seems very “urban legendy” and reads a bit too inflammatory to seem real.

Origins:    On 13 July 2015, the entertainment web site Thug Viral posted an article claiming that a 59-year-old man named Rupert Darwin had been arrested for having sex with an alligator:

People have had sex with pit bulls, donkeys and even parrots, but this incident is on another level.

Rupert Darwin, 59, kept a 12 foot alligator tied and blindfold for the last month, sexually assaulting the reptile multiple times a day.

Darwin is a relatively unknown fisherman who lives in the outskirts of the remote town of 400. Residents say he sticks to himself and described him as “odd.”

Police responded after a man out of a nature hike happened to walk by Darwin’s house and saw Darwin having sex with the alligator in his backyard.

The witness heard Darwin say, “next time you try to kill a man, you best get the job done. Now you’re my bitch forever.”

Thug Viral is yet another fake news site that does not contain a disclaimer specifically identifying the site as a purveyor of fake news. There are other ways to document that the above-quoted story is non-factual, however:

First, the two photographs included with the article do not show either a sexually assaulted alligator nor a man who was arrested for sexually assaulting an alligator. The alligator photograph was taken in 2013 at Lake Wyman Park in Boca Raton, Florida, after a nine-foot alligator was captured there by local authorities:

The photograph of the man included in the article does not show a suspect who was arrested for having sex with an alligator, although it was taken from a somewhat related story: the man seen here was arrested in Illnois in 2013 on charges involving sexual abuse of a peacock:

DuPage County authorities say a man sexually abused his pet peacock, which later was found dead in his garage.

David Beckmann, 64, was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty after Roselle police said they learned about the abuse and subsequent death of the bird, named Phyl, while investigating another crime.

Beckmann was booked at the DuPage County jail on separate misdemeanor charges of battery and attempted indecent solicitation of a child. Both of those charges stem from a case in Roselle involving a child between the ages of 13 and 17, court records show.

Roselle police declined to talk about the animal cruelty charge because they said it’s part of the case with the child. But a spokesman with the state’s attorney’s office confirmed Beckmann is accused of sexually abusing the peacock.

When and how Phyl died is unclear. But Roselle police indicated they saw the bird’s body in the garage of Beckmann’s home on the night of April 28, according to court records. Police had seen the bird alive at the home before that date.

Last updated:      15 July 2015

Originally published:    13 July 2015