THFWS & TTM’s: The Verdict

The jury was sequestered for weeks after the end of the trial. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) one lone juror sympathized with Sebastian Galbraith Lodge’s actions and beliefs to such an extent that it almost resulted in a hung jury.

An elderly woman of devout faith, and a Baptist, she shared many of Lodge’s beliefs, and admired him for the courage of his convictions. She also strongly disapproved of what she regarded as “an abomination” concerning what she understood of Ash and his followers’ practices, especially the polyamory.

She likewise did not consider The Home for Wayward Souls to be a legitimate church, but recognized that just like the Catholics, the Muslims, the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Mormons, or “even the Jews”, they were entitled to the pursuit of their religious freedoms and practices

Eventually, the other jurors convinced her that it was not Lodge who was on trial, but rather a question of whether it was appropriate to “own” a sentient being in the first place like a slave or chattel property, subject to the whims of their owners.

She however, was a creationist, like Lodge, so the ownership of animals, let alone their sentience, was not subject to question, but she was also a member of PETA, and felt that it was unreasonable to place such high expectations, stress and pressure on a “poor dumb animal”.

She cared for and fed three “rescue dogs”, four cats, and a parrot she had taught to say “praise the Lord” and sing “Jesus loves me” that she had owned for over forty years.

Although it seemed as if she had not been paying any attention to Frederick’s compelling testimony, they were content to let her sympathize with the Primates as long as it resulted in their freedom.

It was impossible to charge the primates with any crimes, given the fact that, in the eyes of the courts, they were still animals.

But when it came to deciding their ultimate fate, the jury nonetheless agreed that their treatment had been cruel and inhumane, and that they should not be subject to further experiments of any kind.

The Plaintiff’s Attorneys had already prepared an offer to buy the Primates from PharmaCorp for an amount approximately four times what was considered “market value” but further added that it was not to be considered a purchase, but rather an act of emancipation as ransom for their freedom.

The jury also agreed that The Home for Wayward Souls was in no way responsible for the initial actions of the primates, or for any damages or losses incurred by PharmaCorp.

All parties conceded that an eventual determination would have to be made by the courts as to the acknowledgement of their sentience and civil rights and liberties, but it was clearly beyond the authority of this court to do so at this time.

Ash and his congregation agreed to accept responsibility for the care and further actions of the Primates in much the same way that a parent of a disabled adult would.

Both the Chimps and Bonobos were very content in their habitat of the lush tropical areas surrounding the seven acres upon which the The Sanctuary resided and had made no attempt to leave the property, which they now considered to be their territory, and which they thoroughly enjoyed patrolling.

An eight-foot chain link fence surrounded the entire perimeter, acting as a line of demarcation for all parties concerned, and no one dared enter the premises except through the front gate.

In a statement to the press, it was announced that Mark and Darcy would be charged with their care and “education” including further studies of their developmental and communications abilities on a “voluntary” basis, which they intended to use to establish their legal rights as sentient, self-aware beings capable of communicating their choices and desires in their own pursuit of happiness.

All costs would be covered by The Home for Wayward Souls as part of their stated purpose as a non-profit corporation devoted to the pursuit of higher consciousness.

It was also agreed that any further legal action on the part of PharmaCorp (or any of its unnamed agents) would cease with prejudice and the amount paid by the church would be considered settlement in full with no admissions of guilt by anyone.

It was a day of triumph for Frederick and the other Primates; a day of liberation to be celebrated by everyone at the Sanctuary.

Darcy was near her due date and her delivery of the twins was immanent, but she was incredibly healthy and in great spirits as she waddled down the steps of the courthouse with Frederick and Mark hand-in-hand surrounded by Ash, Kali, Merle, Charles, Suki and Anastasia. Stanley Linderman was also with them.

Although Frederick was no longer the property of Stan’s employers, he was still “on point”  more as a matter of habit, and it was his intention to resign his position to come to work for The Home for Wayward Souls as a “security consultant”.

An offer had already been made by Ash and the council of the church to pay him handsomely to keep the carnival atmosphere that had surrounded them all under control.

As popular as they had become, they were not without their detractors and sworn enemies, mostly fundamentalist Christians.

Stanley had never been so content or happy before. He believed that he was finally in the right place at the right time to do something he felt he was born to do.

Frederick even stopped on the steps for a photo-op to do The Monkey Dance for the press, flashing the V for Victory sign with both hands, and then suddenly signing “It’s a great day to be me.”

It was a glorious day and it seemed as if nothing could stop them now.

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