WASHINGTON, D.C. – A 74-year-old Sussex County woman was among nine people indicted Wednesday on federal civil rights conspiracy and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) offenses for obstructing patients and providers of a reproductive health services facility in Washington D.C. on October 22, 2020.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia announced a two-count indictment charging Lauren Handy, 28, of Alexandria, Virginia; Jonathan Darnel, 40, of Arlington, Virginia, Jay Smith, 32, of Freeport, New York; Paulette Harlow, 73, of Kingston, Massachusetts; Jean Marshall, 72, of Kingston, Massachusetts; John Hinshaw, 67, of Levittown, New York; Heather Idoni, 61, of Linden, Michigan; William Goodman, 52, of Bronx, New York; and Joan Bell, 74, of Montague Township, New Jersey.
The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia, alleges that the nine people engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade at the reproductive health care clinic to prevent the clinic from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services, authorities said.
According to the indictment, as part of the conspiracy, Smith, Harlow, Marshall, Hinshaw, Idoni, Goodman and Bell traveled to Washington, D.C. from various northeast and midwestern states, to participate in a clinic blockade that was directed by Handy and was broadcast on Facebook by Darnel. According to the indictment, Handy, Smith, Harlow, Marshall, Hinshaw, Idoni, Goodman and Bell forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes. Once the blockade was established, Darnel live-streamed footage of his co-defendants’ activities. The indictment also alleges that the nine defendants violated the FACE Act by using a physical obstruction to injure, intimidate and interfere with the clinic’s employees and a patient, because they were providing or obtaining reproductive health service.
If convicted of the offenses, they each face up to a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000.