Atheist, non-binary pro-life activist sentenced to federal prison for violating FACE Act

The first pro-life atheist indicted under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for participating in the 2020 blockade of a Washington, D.C., abortion facility.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly announced the sentence for non-binary pro-life activist Herb (Rosemary) Geraghty on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the federal judge sentenced three of Geraghty's fellow activists – Lauren Handy, John Hinshaw and William Goodman – who also participated in the October 2020 blockade of the Washington Surgi-Clinic. Handy is a member of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, another pro-life group that Geraghty is also a part of.

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Before the nine-month imprisonment, Geraghty served as the executive director of the non-partisan pro-life organization Rehumanize International.

Geraghty was immediately taken into custody after a jury returned a guilty verdict last year on charges of violating the FACE Act.

Geraghty was one of several defendants who participated in an effort to prevent the Washington Surgi Clinic from performing abortions on October 22, 2020. According to prosecutorsGeraghty assisted Handy in planning the blockade.

A jury concluded last year that the activist “actually used force and/or violence against clinic staff in his entry, or at least aided and abetted fellow Defendants in doing so.” During the trial, Geraghty denied using force to enter the facility, citing pacifist beliefs.

In a statement to The Christian Post on Wednesday, Terrisa Bukovinac, founder of PAAU, expressed her commitment to stand with Geraghty and “non-violent political prisoners everywhere.”

“I am appalled by Biden's arming of the Justice Department against Herb, the first atheist to be charged and now tried under FACE,” Bukovinac stated. “Judge Kollar-Kotelly's assessment that Herb used force or violence is a blatant lie born of her clear confirmation bias against anti-abortion people.”

The pro-life leader was present in the courtroom on Wednesday during Geraghty's sentencing.

The PAAU founder said Kollar-Kotelly, nominated for former Democratic President Bill Clinton, claimed Geraghty and the other defendants showed no mercy on Oct. 22, 2020. Bukovinac said the defendants who testified in their defense , received longer sentences than the activists. who chose not to testify.

Bukovinac said the judge claimed Geraghty lied about entering the facility to check on Paulette Harlow, another defendant in the case, who is in her 70s, showing footage showing Geraghty walking past Harlow and entering the facility.

The PAAU leader argued that it was only Kollar-Kotelly's “opinion” that Geraghty was lying.

Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Martin Cannon told CP that Geraghty's sentencing reflects “an increase below the sentencing guidelines,” asserting that the judge's reasoning “would deter any person who is likely to be convicted from testifying.”

“It's a total reversal of justice!” Cannon wrote in an email.

Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Steve Crampton told CP that the judge's accusation that Geraghty lied is “one of the great travesties, in our view.”

“The government alleged that each defendant who took the stand provided false testimony, for which they each received additional points under the sentencing guidelines, resulting in harsher sentences,” Crampton said. “We argued unsuccessfully that just because the government didn't like what the defendants said and the jury found against them doesn't mean they testified falsely. Obviously, the judge disagreed.”

The Washington Surgi-Clinic made headlines in March 2022 after Handy and Bukovinac recovered 115 human remains from the facility, five of which were full-term infants. PAAU has repeatedly called for an autopsy of the five full-time survivors to determine whether the facility performs abortions in a manner that violates federal law.

The recovery, in addition to an undercover video that the pro-life group Live Action released in 2013, led Handy to believe that the Washington Surgi-Clinic was performing illegal abortions. The undercover video reportedly shows Cesare Santangelo, the abortionist at the facility, telling a Live Action investigator that he would not try to help a baby who survives an abortion.

During Handy's sentencing, Kollar-Kotelly said she would have allowed the full video to be shown at trial but claimed she didn't think it offered any evidence that Santangelo let live-born babies die.

Kollar-Kotelly sentenced Handy to 57 months in federal prison for participating in and planning the blockade at the Washington Surgi-Clinic. Hinshaw received a sentence of 21 months imprisonment, while Goodman was sentenced to 27 months.

“These defendants conspired to use force to prevent fellow citizens from exercising rights protected by law,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves said Tuesday. statement. “People cannot resort to using force and intimidation to prevent others from engaging in lawful activity simply because they disagree with the law. The Department was founded to protect the civil rights of our citizens and remains steadfast in this mission.”


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