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Press Release

Additional Defendant Sentenced for Federal Conspiracy Against Rights and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act Convictions Related to 2020 D.C. Clinic Invasion and Blockade

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Heather Idoni was sentenced today to 24 months in prison following her convictions for federal conspiracy against rights and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act offenses following three separate trials in connection with the blockade of a Washington, D.C., area reproductive health clinic on Oct. 22, 2020.

Previously, Lauren Handy was sentenced to 57 months in prison, John Hinshaw was sentenced to 21 months in prison, William Goodman was sentenced to 27 months in prison, Jonathan Darnel was sentenced to 34 months in prison, Herb Geraghty was sentenced to 27 months in prison, Jean Marshall was sentenced to 24 months in prison and Joan Bell was sentenced to 27 months in prison.

“Federal law is clear: using force, threatening to use force or physically obstructing access to reproductive health care is unlawful,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “People have a First Amendment right to communicate their views but they do not have the right to use chains, locks and obstruction to prevent access to reproductive health care facilities. The Justice Department will continue to protect both patients seeking reproductive health services and providers of those services.”   

“Using force and intimidation to deprive others of their civil rights is a crime, and rightly so,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. “This office will continue to defend and protect the right of every citizen to access health care.”

These defendants, and one, were convicted following three separate trials in 2023. Paulette Harlow is scheduled to be sentenced later this month. Idoni is scheduled to be sentenced in a separate matter on July 30, following conspiracy and FACE Act convictions in an unrelated clinic blockade from Tennessee. A tenth defendant, Jay Smith, was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to a felony FACE Act offense on March 1, 2023.

Evidence presented at trial established that the defendants used force and physical obstruction to execute a clinic blockade that was organized by the group’s leaders, Handy and Darnel. The defendants planned and organized the clinic invasion using social media, text messages and telephone calls, and several co-conspirators, including Hinshaw, Goodman, Geraghty, Marshall, Bell, Harlow, Idoni and Smith traveled from northeast and midwestern states to participate in the blockade. Prior to the clinic incursion, the defendants met with other co-conspirators to plan their crime, which included making a fake patient appointment to ensure the group’s entry into the clinic, using chains and locks to barricade the facility and passively resisting their anticipated arrests to prolong the blockade.

The clinic invasion was advertised on social media as a “historic” event that was live-streamed on Facebook. The defendants’ forced entry into the clinic at the outset of the invasion resulted in injury to a clinic nurse. During the blockade, one patient had to climb through a receptionist window to access the clinic, while another laid in the hallway outside of the clinic in physical distress, unable to gain access to the clinic.

The FBI Washington Field Office investigated the case.

Prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia prosecuted the case.

Updated May 22, 2024

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 24-651