Caroline Goldman Terrasse of Fairfax County was fined $50 for calling a dogcatcher a bastard.
Terrasse used the term on the telephone in a feud with County Animal Warden Charles A. Reinhard over Bosco, her pet Doberman pinscher.
Reinhard complained to police and then to Fairfax General District Court, where Judge Richard Horan rejected Terrasse's argument that the word does not necessarily mean illegitimate. The judge agreed that Terrasse appeared to be questioning the warden's parentage.
"I was astounded," says Terrasse, who was fined the $50 for telephone abuse on Friday. Horan also fined Terrasse $30 for refusing to quarantine Bosco after the dog -- which Terrasse says is about the size of medium Great Dane or "a small pony" -- allegedly bit a neighbor who was jogging across the property. Trial on a separate count of failing to produce a receipt for county dog tags was delayed by Horan until Friday.
Terrasse, the daughter of Marvin Goldman, owner of the K-B Theater chain here, showed up in court last week armed with three dictionaries, trying to convince Horan that word bastard means not only "illegitimate" but can mean "spurious" as well.
She also produced evidence to show that many books and PG-rated movies available in Fairfax County include the word.
Horan was not swayed. The judge yesterday declined to discuss the decision, which may be appealed.
The biting incident occurred March 19 at the 2 1/2-acre Great Falls home of Terrasse and her husband. Four days later, says Terrasse, Reinhard arrived at the door demanding that Bosco be quarantined. Under county law, dogs involved in a biting that breaks a person's skin must be placed under 10 days' observation for rabies.
Terrasse says angry words were exchanged, in part because Reinhard had threatened to "get" her a year ago after a dog-tag charge involving Bosco was dismissed by a Fairfax judge. Reinhard denies that allegation.
After an argument about whether the neighbor had been bitten -- Reinhard says he had been -- and whether Reinhard would be permitted to take Bosco to quarantine, Reinhard left. Terrasse says after she arranged with a veterinarian to quarantine the dog -- which county law permits -- she telephoned Reinhard to tell him so. She found him at the McLean police substation, swearing out warrants for her arrest.
"I turned to my husband and said, 'This guy's being a real bastard about it,' " Terrasse says. After that, according to her, Reinhard added abuse to the list of charges.
Reinhard said yesterday the comment was more direct: "'Why, you little bastard.'"
Horan points to Virginia law, which defines telephone abuse as the use of any word that is "obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd, lascivious or indecent."
"Dogcatchers," sighs the judge. "They have a tough time. My kids boo 'em when they pass the house."