Prosecutor: While cameras rolled, N.C. trio castrated willing men
By Harriet Ryan
Updated April 12, 2006, 1:08 p.m. ET
In Waynesville, a small county seat in the mountains of western North Carolina, people whispered about the three older men who lived together south of town.
They were lovers, and there were rumors that the trio had turned a room in their house into a dungeon where they filmed sadomasochistic sex scenes — and then posted them on the Internet.
Someone asked the local sheriff to investigate the men, but his officers determined their activities, although unorthodox, were perfectly legal.
Last month, however, the men were arrested on charges that shocked the community.
Authorities say they performed castrations and other types of genital surgeries on at least six people. Detectives searching the home found bloody scalpels, syringes, and prosthetic testicles in a room the men referred to as "the dungeon."
Officers confiscated a video camera apparently used to record the procedures, as well as scores of CDs and computer files. They also seized a Tupperware container from the kitchen freezer holding what appeared to be human testicles.
The suspects acknowledged performing surgeries, but they told investigators that the procedures were completely consensual and that the men who requested the operations traveled long distances for the procedures.
The defendants — Richard Sciara, 61; Michael Mendez, 60; and Danny Reeves, 49 — are due in court this week for a probable cause hearing. Each is charged with five counts of felony castration and five counts of conspiracy, as well as eight counts of practicing medicine without a license. They remain in jail in lieu of $150,000 bail.
The arrests on March 30 of Sciara, a retiree, and Mendez and Reeves, both workers at the local Indian casino, astounded many in Waynesville, a town of about 10,000.
"It's pretty much disbelief. Surprise and disbelief and disgust," said District Attorney Michael Bonfoey.
The castration law, a rarely used statute that dates back to the common law of colonial times, does not allow consent as a defense, the prosecutor said.
Still, the question of why a man would agree to castration by medical amateurs remains the most perplexing issue in the case.
Although Sciara had worked for two decades at a Kansas veteran's hospital, he was never licensed and the other men had no known medical training.
Bonfoey, the prosecutor, said his office had yet to interview any of the men who underwent the procedures.
"I haven't talked to any of the victims, so I can't tell you why they would want this," he said.
The six victims identified so far are not from western North Carolina, and at least one is from outside the country, lawyers said.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that Sciara identified himself as "Master Rick" on an S&M Web site, Collarme.com. In an online profile published by the newspaper, Sciara posted a photo of himself in leather chaps and wrote that he had two slaves — Danny and Bob — and was searching for more.
"This is NOT a game with me, I live this lifestyle," he wrote. The profile has been removed from the site.
Reeves is pictured in leather shorts on the site in a profile for "dungeonslavedan."
"Am fully versed in all aspects of the BDSM lifestyle as well as being into wrestling and boxing," his profile reads.
Bill Leslie, a lawyer for Reeves, insisted that his client had "absolutely nothing to do with" the surgeries, but asserted that the castrations were not related to sadomasochism.
"Our position is it's certainly not a sexual gratification thing," he said. Asked if they were performed on men seeking sex changes, he said, "Our position is that's not the reason either."
He declined to elaborate.
Investigators are still reviewing evidence and may file additional charges if they find other victims, Bonfoey said.
"We don't know if there are any more at this point," he said.
Bill Jones, the lawyer for Mendez, said it was incorrect to refer to the castrated men as victims.
"I would hesitate to use that word. Even what the police are saying is that this was consensual," he said.