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Durango man faces cruelty charge for alleged sexual act with a horse

Jonah Barrett-Lesko
Suspect being held on $5,000 bail at La Plata County Jail

The Durango Police Department arrested Jonah Barrett-Lesko, 26, on Monday for an alleged sexual act with a horse at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.

Police responded to the fairgrounds about 10 p.m. June 17 after receiving a report of a man having sexual intercourse with a horse. The man, identified as Barrett-Lesko, was detained after being caught trespassing Monday.

“While Lesko was in custody, police detectives recovered text messages where Lesko admitted his sexual interaction with the horse, and during subsequent interviews Lesko admitted to the acts,” said Deputy Chief Brice Current in a news release Monday.

Barrett-Lesko, who has been in the Durango area since about 2019, faces charges of animal cruelty, a Class 1 misdemeanor, and possession of burglary tools, a Class 5 felony.

The incident was first reported by the horse’s caretaker, who had a video surveillance camera inside the stall and saw a live video feed of the incident on a mobile phone application.

The family that cares for the horse declined to comment Monday.

The man, later identified as Barrett-Lesko, fled the area on foot when officers arrived at the scene. He left behind an Osprey backpack and purple mountain bike, which were photographed and shared by the Durango Police Department on social media.

“At least four people contacted police and stated that Lesko matched the physical description of the suspect and had a similar backpack and bicycle,” Current said in the news release. “On Monday, Lesko admitted leaving his backpack and bicycle behind when he saw approaching headlights.”

Police found numerous burglary tools, including a grinder and bolt cutters, in the backpack, which Barrett-Lesko said were used to make knives and swords.

During the investigation, police matched a screenshot of the security video feed with body camera footage from past police interactions with Barrett-Lesko, according to the police report.

The Durango Police Department received tips from the public saying Barrett-Lesko was heard bragging about the incident at the designated campsite for people experiencing homelessness on La Posta Road (County Road 213) near Purple Cliffs.

Police detained Barrett-Lesko for trespassing at Summit Church in Durango about 10:20 a.m. Monday.

During interviews with police, Barrett-Lesko admitted only to attempting the sexual behavior.

“Jonah said the horse had given indications to him, based on its behavior, that it was interested in participating in sexual activity,” the police report said. “Jonah said he had never engaged in sexual behavior with animals prior to this incident.”

He claimed the incident was spurred by drugs and issues in a personal relationship, the report said.

Barrett-Lesko was booked into the La Plata County Jail on Monday with bail set at $5,000.

smullane@durangoherald.com