The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has agreed to pay the parent company of the Ringling Bros. Circus $9.3 million to settle allegations that the animal group conspired to pay a witness for false testimony in a 12-year lawsuit over the treatment of circus elephants.
Feld Entertainment, the circus’s operator, said Friday that the settlement resolves the ASPCA’s part in paying Tom Rider, the star witness procured by a larger group of animal advocacy organizations, to testify falsely about abuse he claimed to have witnessed at the hands of circus trainers. That lawsuit was first brought into federal court in 2000.
The payment releases the ASPCA from liability related to a racketeering counter-suit Feld brought against the animal organizations in 2007 after documents turned over in discovery showed that the plaintiffs made payments — often through a nonprofit managed by their lawyers — to Rider.