Former ‘Baywatch’ actress Alexandra Paul ‘not guilty’ in Foster Farms case in Merced

Direct Action Everywhere

A Merced County jury on Friday found former “Baywatch” star Alexandra Paul and animal rights activist Alicia Santurio not guilty of misdemeanor theft after they “rescued” two chickens from a Foster Farms truck in Livingston in September 2021.

The Merced County District Attorney’s office prosecuted the case that captured international attention from animal rights activists, who have targeted large-scale processors like Foster Farms.

Paul and Santurio, who are members of the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere, faced the possibility of up to six months in jail if they were found guilty.

Paul, in an interview after the verdict, said it would have been worth it.

“The only reason people like us go into these places is because law enforcement and the government aren’t helping these animals,” Paul said. “No one is comfortable with abusing animals, even if they are chickens, and I think the jury understood that.”

Paul said the two rescued chickens were given the names of Ethan and Jax. Both chickens received medical attention and were found to be sick.

Ethan died a few days later.

A necropsy report from UC Davis found that Ethan had infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), enterococcus faecium, and E. coli., according to Direct Action Everywhere.

Dr. Sherstin Rosenberg, who testified in the trial, said IBV is an extremely contagious coronavirus with a mortality rate as high as 60% and that the enterococcus faecium and E. coli pathogens posed a public health risk.

Cassie King, spokesperson for Direct Action Everywhere, said Friday’s court decision was also a victory for the concept of “open rescue.”

“People who rescue animals that are sick and suffering are showing their faces and wanting the world to know what they are doing,” she said. “We have nothing to hide; we are doing what is moral and legal.”

Paul said she would do it again if necessary.

“I will continue to do my investigatory work if I find a sick animal,” she said. “I can’t rescue them all. And we are hoping that public opinion will be the thing that turns the tide. People are realizing this is wrong, and we can’t do this anymore.”

Foster Farms officials declined to comment about the jury verdict.

“We have no comment at the present time,” said Ira Brill, company spokesman.