Terry Cullen takes plea deal in sex assault/reptile storage case

CREATED Nov 12, 2012 - UPDATED: Nov 12, 2012

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MILWAUKEE- Hundreds of reptiles were rounded up from three homes; the owner was later arrested on sex assault charges.

That case ended in a plea deal Monday and the man responsible faces very little punishment.

This reptile enthusiast originally faced more than a dozen charges from animal cruelty to sexual assault.  Now it is very likely that charges will be dropped and Terry Cullen will not serve any prison time.

Terry Cullen and his family seemed relieved, yet subdued outside a Milwaukee courtroom on Monday.  He is at the center of a drawn-out, incredibly bizarre case.

More than two years ago, police investigated sexual assault claims against Cullen and then uncovered exotic reptiles crammed in his south side properties.  Turtles were in tupperware,  alligators in stacked horse-feeding troughs, snakes and a creature count more than 300.

The prosecution's case against Cullen was on shaky ground.  There are questions about the credibility of the woman making sexual assault claims.  So, if Cullen undergoes sex offender evaluation, donates $2,500 to animal charities and does community service, charges will be dismissed.

"If he does the things set forth in that agreement, he has no criminal conviction on his record and it's off his back at that point," says Cullen's defense attorney Anthony Cotton.

Too much time has passed for city animal cruelty citation tickets to be issued, so Cullen will likely face no penalties for what authorities have called "reptile hoarding."

"This is a case that didn't involve intentional infliction of harm and it didn't animals that were starving," says prosecutor Sara Lewis.