WATSEKA — The founder of a now-defunct nonprofit animal sanctuary in Thawville who is accused of intentionally causing the death of numerous animals in her care pleaded not guilty Thursday in Iroquois County Circuit Court to a Class 4 felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty.
Corinne N. DiLorenzo, founder of the now-dissolved nonprofit Earth Advocates, also known as the Earth Animal Sanctuary, requested a jury trial during Thursday’s hearing. The case was placed on the next available jury trial calendar with Judge James Kinzer, and a status hearing was set for 1:30 p.m. March 9.
In November, an Iroquois County grand jury returned a one-count indictment against the 38-year-old Will County resident, alleging she “intentionally caused the death of multiple companion animals including dogs, cats, pigs, rabbits, birds, goats, raccoons and turtles.”
DiLorenzo was arrested on a warrant on Dec. 24 and was released after posting 10 percent of her $10,000 bond.
An online petition demanding DiLorenzo be criminally charged was launched last summer, after the carcasses of hundreds of animals that had been rescued and surrendered to Earth Advocates were found at the sanctuary’s property at 109 S.W. Park St. in Thawville.
To date, nearly 700 animals given to the sanctuary have been either found dead or are still missing, according to Jodie Wiederkehr, executive director of the Chicago Alliance for Animals.