Eleven defendants charged with obstructing reproductive health facility in Tennessee | OPA

A federal indictment unsealed today charges 11 individuals with violations of the Open Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

Chester Gallagher, Heather Idoni, Calvin Zastrow, Coleman Boyd, Caroline Davis, Paul Vaughn, Dennis Green, Eva Edel, Eva Zastrow, James Zastrow and Paul Place were charged with federal crimes in connection with an alleged blockade of a reproductive health clinic in Mount Juliet , Tennessee, on March 5, 2021. Gallagher, Idoni, Calvin Zastrow, Boyd, Davis, Vaughn, and Dennis Green were charged with a civil rights conspiracy. All 11 defendants were charged with violating the FACE Act.

The indictment returned by a federal grand jury alleges that Gallagher, Idoni, Calvin Zastrow, Boyd, Davis, Vaughn and Green conspired to prevent the clinic from providing and patients from receiving reproductive health services . According to the indictment, as part of the conspiracy, Idoni, Calvin Zastrow, Boyd, Davis and Green traveled to Tennessee from other states to participate in a clinic blockade organized by Gallagher, Idoni and others.

The indictment alleges that beginning in February 2021, Gallagher used social media to promote a series of anti-abortion events planned for March 4-7, 2021 in the Nashville area. Other co-conspirators then used Facebook to coordinate travel and logistics and identify other participants in the blockade. On March 4, 2021, Boyd and Gallagher announced the blockade of the Carafem Health Center clinic in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, which was planned for the next day. In his social media post, Gallagher called the blockade a “salvation.” Boyd also began a Facebook Live stream of the clinic blockade at 7:45 a.m. on March 5, 2021. That live stream was titled, in part, “Mount Juliet, TN Rescue March 5, 2021” and streamed the blockade event live with his accomplices and others blocking the front doors of the clinic and preventing a patient and staff member from entering. The live stream also broadcast members of the group trying to engage a patient and her companion, while Boyd told her live audience that the patient was “a mother coming to kill her baby.”

The indictment further alleges that on March 5, 2021, the 11 individuals, mutually aiding and abetting, used force and physical obstruction to injure, intimidate and interfere with clinic staff and a patient seeking services for reproductive health.

The indictment also alleges that all 11 defendants violated the FACE Act by using physical obstruction to intimidate and interfere with clinic staff and a patient as the clinic provided and the patient sought reproductive health services. All defendants will appear in U.S. District Court in Nashville at a later date.

If convicted of the crimes, the seven conspiracy defendants face a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release and fines of up to $350,000. The other five defendants face up to one year in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $10,000.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clark of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Mark H. Wildasin for the Middle District of Tennessee made the announcement.

The FBI is investigating the case. Trial attorneys from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Civil Rights Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee are prosecuting the case.

Anyone with information about incidents of violence, threats, and obstruction directed at a reproductive health patient or provider, or damage and destruction of reproductive health facilities, should report that information to the FBI at www.tips.fbi. gov. For more information on clinic violence and the Department of Justice’s efforts to enforce violations of the FACE Act, please visit www.justice.gov/crt/national-task-force-violence-against-reproductive-health-care-providers .

The charges contained in an indictment are mere allegations. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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