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Woman to face felony charges in ‘Champ’ case

Elizabeth James

The Laurens woman charged with starving her former boyfriend’s dog nearly to death will face felony animal abuse charges, according to the 8th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

A grand jury returned an indictment on felony charges Monday afternoon, said 8th Circuit spokesman Brian King.

Elizabeth Lena James was arrested in August by Laurens County Sheriff’s Office deputies and accused of starving the Rotweiller-Mastiff mix, which was chained in her back yard, for 30 days. According to officers from Laurens County Animal Control and the LCSO, James starved the dog, which was renamed Champ by his rescuers, to get back at her boyfriend after the couple broke up.

With the grand jury’s indictment on felony animal abuse charges, James could face a minimum of 180 days with a maximum of five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

The emaciated dog weighed about 50 pounds – a little under half of what his body weight should have been – when he was rescued after a neighbor called authorities. Champ was infested with maggots and hookworms and underwent several blood transfusions after his rescue.

An animal advocacy group “Rescue Dogs Rock” of New York City rescued Champ and raised money to pay for his treatment through a crowd-sourcing campaign on social media.

Champ’s story made national news as people followed his treatment at a Columbia, South Carolina animal hospital on the Rescue Dogs Rock Facebook page and his own “Justice for Champ” page. Animal activists publicly called on 8th Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo to seek felony charges against James.


  1. Jimmy Coker on December 20, 2018 at 9:14 am

    Thank you Grand Jury! Karma at work here!

    • Ashley Harrington on December 20, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Grateful for 5 years, but it’s not enough!!

    • Sylvia Gruber on December 20, 2018 at 6:24 pm

      The best news ever! May they reciprocate the same her!
      Merry Christmas Champ!
      We love you!

    • Sandy Simmons on December 20, 2018 at 9:06 pm

      I think it ought to be a felony anytime a heinous crime is committed against a defenseless animal! I hope every state in the union make their laws more stringent and put in force. This torturing and other acts of violence against animals is happening to often and the perpetrator gets a slap on the wrist and free to do it again or next, hurt a human being. Let’s Be Their Voice For The Voiceless!!!

    • Lisa Lee on December 24, 2018 at 5:12 am

      I’m so happy to hear this

    • joe on December 29, 2019 at 9:54 pm

      well, there was no need for a grand jury(star chamber), a simple charge by the police is sufficient.

    • joe on December 29, 2019 at 10:05 pm

      i guess i need to search for an update, it’s been a year, hopefully she’s doing 5

  2. Claire Sadar on December 20, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Thank you Grand Jury for doing the right thing. And now lets see her do some jail time and make restitution.

  3. Nancy on December 20, 2018 at 9:49 am

    I support champ thru this and I keep follow up on his updated.I hope she get what come to her.

  4. Carla on December 20, 2018 at 9:49 am

    Excellent news!!!!

  5. Michele Lee on December 20, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Give her the MAXIMUM and never let her own a pet again.

  6. Jill C. on December 20, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Thank you to the Grand Jury for doing the right thing in this horrific case. For those of us trying to do what we can to help animals and frequently frustrated with the slaps on the wrist these people get, it is nice to see a jury who are really stepping up to defend animals! May she get the maximum she can get across the board!

    • joe on December 29, 2019 at 9:57 pm

      waste of money and time to bother with a grand jury. i do not think we should have them. the only other country in the world that still does star chambers is Liberia.
      The charge of animal cruelty or whatever by the cops is all they need. the prosecutor can add any he sees as needed.

  7. JM Penyal on December 20, 2018 at 10:08 am

    She should have to repay the $1000’s for all of his medical bills!! #justiceforchamp 🐶❤️

  8. Lynne Aiken on December 20, 2018 at 10:13 am

    So happy to hear this. Needs to be an automatic 5 years for abusers and then must repay all the expenses that were needed to save this dog’s life!!! It’s a must in order to keep this from happening to so many. If the penalties are so harsh maybe, just maybe the evil will stop!!!

  9. Kevin on December 20, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Well done. I hope the courts level the maximum punishment. Intolerable behavior on her part. We cannot tolerate this in our society.

  10. Nancy Robinson on December 20, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Hopefully the judge that gets this case, gives her the max amount of time and the max amount for the fine, to make an example of her and make her suffer as she made this innocent dog suffer in the cruelest way.

  11. Stacy K on December 20, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Give her the Max! Show others this won’t be tolerated. What she did was horrible and she needs to serve time. Karma!

  12. Terri Neves on December 20, 2018 at 10:22 am


  13. Sheila Wagner on December 20, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Now let us all pray she gets the maximum 5 years which is still not long enough …thank you grand jury.

  14. Donna Brown on December 20, 2018 at 10:25 am

    I hope she gets the Max 5 years ++

  15. Suzanne Koenig on December 20, 2018 at 10:32 am

    I hope she serves 5 years in jail!!!!

  16. Suzanne Koenig on December 20, 2018 at 10:33 am

    AND….$5,000 in fines!!!!!

  17. Carole Dillinger on December 20, 2018 at 10:35 am

    This horrible person needs to be sentenced to the maximum allowed by the law. Remember, her actions were INTENTIONAL!!!!!! She needs to pay for the atrocity that she committed. Thank you to the Grand Jury for the indictment.

  18. Sherri Murray on December 20, 2018 at 10:36 am

    I pray they give maximum penalty. This women purposely caused immense suffering. She should also be ordered to pay every cent back to Rescue Dogs Rock NYC that they paid to save his life. There are more and more of these animial abuse cases and a clear message needs to be sent that this will NOT be tolerated!

  19. Judy on December 20, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Thank You Grand Jury as this case CAN change Animal Abuse Laws and You have taken a huge step in making these charges felonies !
    I’m happy everyday that Champ against ALL odds survived….Not all of the Rescued Abused Animals get a true second chance at living a life of “Man’s Best Friend”

  20. Sarah Parry on December 20, 2018 at 10:52 am

    I hope the judge throws the book at her. I don’t know this woman, but I don’t need to. Anyone that intentionally starves an animal to get back at her ex is a horrible, horrible person. I follow Champ, and am glad he survived. He is now surrounded by an army of people that love and support him. Something this women will never know. That poor animal had more class on his death bed then this woman ever will.

  21. Lei Ann Stickney on December 20, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Thank You grand jury for this decision. Even though Champ suffered a horrible fate at the hands of this woman, I hope this becomes an example of abuse that is inexcusable and not tolerable whatsoever. For all Champ’s suffering, it was not time for him to cross the rainbow bridge, he was saved and is being forever loved with his new family.

  22. Bridget Hughes on December 20, 2018 at 11:02 am

    They should put her in jail with no food and water for 30 days just like she did to champ and then make her serve 5 years

  23. Tina Ybarra on December 20, 2018 at 11:03 am

    YES! YES!! YES!! THANK YOU GRAND JURY! Karma has started! May she get the MAXIMUM OF EVERYTHING! Thank you to EVERYONE involved in helping this amazing angel!❤️

  24. Phil Childress on December 20, 2018 at 11:14 am

    Thanks David Stumbo.

  25. Linda Wright on December 20, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Very happy that she has been charged with a felony. I pray she gets what she deserves. Now I hope they do the right thing and and not let her go with a slap on the wrist. Sad thing about this is there are more monsters out there just like her.

  26. Jean johnson on December 20, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Thank God…..hopefully the law will get super strict on all animal abuse and neglect cases.

  27. Robbie Stewart on December 20, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Thank you Grand Jury!! Thank You Solicitor David Stumbo!!! Fight Like a Champ!!! Champ Strong!!!!

  28. Tammy Godusi on December 20, 2018 at 11:20 am

    I wish these kind of people would go on an animal abuse registry so they would never be allowed to have another animal again.

  29. Martha on December 20, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Thank you to the grand jury for the felony charge which she so deserves. I pray she gets the maximum sentencing and is not allowed to own any animals for the rest of her life. The ex boyfriend I feel should of never left his dog there to be tortured. Maybe he should be held for abandonment.

  30. Wanda Bassett on December 20, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Thank You from Canada! Justice for Champ! Please give her the max sentence.

  31. Tammy Garrick on December 20, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Thank you!! She had NO mercy on that pup!! She deserves the maximum penalty and NEVER let her have another animal!!!

  32. Lisa Freeman on December 20, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Thank you!!! At last there is some justice!

  33. Janet M Iacolino on December 20, 2018 at 11:37 am

    She needs get the maximum sentence!!!

  34. Dana Bruss-Burns on December 20, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Thank you Grand Jury! I pray that she will get the maximum sentence…….She deserves the most she can get for what she did to Poor Champ. Thank god Champ is ok now and has a loving home. Please, Please give her the max

  35. Sheila Jackson on December 20, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Thank you Grand Jury. Hope the sentence is the stiffest allowed by law with no early release. She didn’t punish boyfriend, she punished innocent dog.

  36. Maureen Benford on December 20, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    I am glad she is hopefully going to get what she deserves for the cruelty she bestowed on that innocent, beautiful boy. My only question through all this, is….where was the ex-boyfriend and why didn’t he come back to get his dog? these questions have been haunting me throughout this whole thing, and I do not believe I ready anywhere about him.

  37. Cynthia kolesarich on December 20, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Thank you Grand Jury! Please give her the maximum sentence as possible for what she did to this poor innocent baby. She is one sick chick and May she pay for what she did to Champ. 🐾

  38. CARLOS SOTO on December 20, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Good she getting her dues for what she did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. Mary Ann Padgett on December 20, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Thank you, Solicitor Stumbo and the Grand Jury. Thanks to all who have stood up against this horrific abuse!

  40. Tami Wiesniak on December 20, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Thank god finally, these losers get punished, not at all the max they deserve, but screw them, serves them right,? but thanks to this rescue group, Champ and others who suffer get a voice!! Kudos to Rescue Dogs Rock!!

  41. Gail Penland on December 20, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you Grand Jury for doing justice to the charges of the indictment of this truly felonious crime. Hoping the perpetrator is convicted and sentenced to the full term of five years; it is not just a warning shot to others who would do harm, it is a just sentence.

  42. Rae abate on December 20, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Thank you to the Grand Jury! Now we need to make sure she gets the MAX 5 YEARS & 5000.00 FINE PERIOD!…nothing less 😡

  43. April Sark on December 20, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    I hope she gets maximum sentence; although still not enough punishment for what she did!

  44. Lisa on December 20, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    Thank God!! I do believe with all of my heart… anyone that is capable of doing this to a animal is more than capable of doing it to a human!

  45. Frances domke on December 20, 2018 at 2:34 pm


  46. Nunz on December 20, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Hoping she gets the max time and fine. And that’s still not enough compared to what she did.

  47. Pam Norman on December 20, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    A heartfelt thanks to Solicitor Stumbo and to the grand jury. I am not sure of the dollar amount that it cost in order to reverse the abuse that Champ suffered, but Ms. James should be required to pay every penny. I am hoping that the other animal abusers awaiting trial are shaken by this indictment.

  48. Sandi on December 20, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Grateful but 5 years is not nearly enough.

  49. Tammy on December 20, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Hallelujah! Truly justice for Champ!

  50. PennyLou on December 20, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    GOOD!!! I hope she rots in prison.

  51. Kimberly on December 20, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Thank you Lord for answered prayers again!!!! WHAAA WHOOO!!!! THIS KIND of punishment needs to be done Nation Wide!!! To the jury, THANK YOU!!! She had no right to do this to Champ!! I pray you all also make it so that she is NEVER allowed to have or be near another animal, EVER!!! GOD BLESS YOU ALL!! MAKE her serve the full 5 years. Please. I pray someone good has the dog she had & said was her own pet.

  52. Donna Webb on December 20, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Please Grand Jury make her suffer just like she did to Champ. It’s a shame she gets to eat!! Poor Champ didn’t get that luxury!

  53. Gina Clevenger on December 20, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    We love you Champ hope justice is served and other’s think twice from now on before leaving there animal’s to starve or to abuse them in any kinda way.

  54. Jody Skelton on December 20, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Praise the Lord! Champ was literally hours from deaths doorstep when he was rescued. Poor baby, he was so strong and his will to live was remarkable. He made such a wonderful recovery although I’m sure he will always have emotional scars from what that monster did to him. I have followed this story since day 1 and I hope & pray this woman is held to the harshest punishment possible for such a cold hearted, horrendous, heartless, treatment of a helpless animal.

  55. Rachel on December 20, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    I pray she does the full 5 years and does not get out after 180 days, she’s disgusting

  56. Emma on December 20, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    Only five years? And maybe at that? Five years isn’t enough… and there needs to be a laws passed that publishes these abusers on a national registry just like the do with pedophiles. Animals have no voice.

  57. Jan on December 20, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    Thank you grand jury. Now to the presiding Judge & prosecutor DO NOT ALLOW a PLEA to lesser charges! Judge throw the book at her w/MAX prison time, fines, restitution for Champs bills, intense probation when released on parole, NEVER ALLOWED CONTACT w/ANY animals! Next prosecutor should charge & follow thru on boyfriend for willful NEGLECT, ABUSE as HIS dog & HE is partially responsible for NOT ensuring Champs safety & welfare!

  58. pamela boucher on December 21, 2018 at 8:52 am

    thank you grand jury for giving her the sentence she deserves and plus she should not be able to be near animals for the rest of her life

  59. Janet Studer-Stratton on April 11, 2019 at 12:34 am

    AMEN to that! Too bad more people don’t believe in K-A-R-M-A.
    Estatic that FINALLY! It is about time that someone that would go to the extent
    this person did “to get even with an ex-boyfriend” I would have to say you got what you deserved now deal
    with it. Nothing you can do about it any more than that poor animal you starved
    could do about his situation.

  60. Melissa Rickens on April 16, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Does anyone know if Elizabeth James has gone to trial and been sentenced?

  61. William Hill on October 25, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    What is the outcome?

    • Victoria M on August 18, 2020 at 8:34 pm

      I would like to know as well. I sure hope she got the max!!

  62. Victoria M on August 18, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    Is there an update? Did she actually get 5 years?? I sure hope so?!

  63. Tamara L Powers on May 28, 2021 at 5:08 am

    She received 90 days.

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