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Press Release

Seven Defendants 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

Seven defendants were sentenced yesterday and today following their convictions for federal conspiracy against rights and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act offenses following three separate trials in connection with the use of force and physical obstruction to blockade a Washington, D.C., area reproductive health clinic on Oct. 22, 2020. 

Yesterday, Lauren Handy was sentenced to 57 months in prison, John Hinshaw was sentenced to 21 months in prison, and William Goodman was sentenced to 27 months in prison. Today, 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.

“Violence has no place in our national discourse on reproductive health. 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. “As we mark the 30th anniversary of the FACE Act, it’s important that we not lose sight of the history of violence against reproductive health care providers including the murder of Dr. David Gunn in Florida — tragic and horrific events that led to passage of the law. The Justice Department will continue to protect both patients seeking reproductive health services and providers of those services. We will hold accountable those who seek to interfere with access to reproductive health services in our country.”   

“These defendants conspired to use force to prevent fellow citizens from exercising rights protected by law,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves for the District of Columbia. “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.”

“The seven defendants executed an extensive blockade of a reproductive care clinic, including faking a patient appointment to enter the facility,” said Assistant Director Michael Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “FACE Act violations are distressing to anyone attempting to safely access reproductive healthcare, and, in this case, unfortunately resulted in the physical injury of a nurse. The FBI continues our work to ensure everyone has unimpeded access to reproductive health care facilities.”

“As evidenced by today's sentencings, the FBI and our judicial system will not tolerate the obstruction of civil rights,” said Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office. “The FBI will continue to investigate FACE Act violations in all jurisdictions, so patients and providers can exercise their right to receive or provide lawful reproductive health care without the threat of violence or intimidation.”

These defendants, and two others, were convicted following three separate trials in 2023. Paulette Harlow and Heather Idoni are 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 following his guilty plea 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 defendants 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 15, 2024

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 24-614