In a landmark move, a North Carolina grand jury has returned indictments for 14 counts of felony cruelty-to-animals against four individuals, including a supervisor, who worked at Professional Laboratory Research Services (PLRS), which was investigated by PETA last fall. This marks the first time in U.S. history that laboratory workers have faced felony cruelty charges for their abuse of animals in a laboratory and only the second time that experimenters have faced criminal prosecution for cruelty (the first stemmed from PETA’s first undercover investigation, the groundbreaking 1981 Silver Spring monkeys case).

Mary Ramsey—who had been employed as a PLRS supervisor—and Jessica Detty were each indicted on five counts, while Christine Clement and Tracy Small were each indicted on two counts. The accused are among those caught on video kicking, throwing, and dragging dogs; hoisting rabbits by their ears and puppies by their throats; violently slamming cats into cages; and screaming obscenities at terrified animals. One of those named is the worker seen on video trying to rip out a cat’s claws by violently pulling the animal from the fence onto which he or she clung in fear.

The state charges follow extensive citations, by federal officials for serious violations of animal welfare laws, the lab’s closure, and the surrender of nearly 200 dogs and more than 50 cats just a week after we released our findings last fall. We’ll keep you updated on the criminal case as it progresses.