Two Additional Defendants Charged with Civil Rights Conspiracy Targeting Pregnancy Resource Centers
A federal grand jury in the Middle District of Florida returned a superseding indictment charging two additional Florida residents with federal crimes arising out of a series of targeted attacks on pregnancy resource facilities in the state. Caleb Freestone, 27, and Amber Smith-Stewart, 23, were previously charged with the same offenses in March.
According to the superseding indictment, Gabriella Oropesa and Annarella Rivera, along with Freestone and Smith-Stewart, engaged in a conspiracy to prevent employees of reproductive health services facilities from providing those services. As part of the conspiracy, the defendants allegedly targeted pregnancy resource facilities and vandalized those facilities with spray-painted threats. Some of the co-conspirators are alleged to have spray painted threats, including “If abortions aren’t safe than niether [sic] are you,” “YOUR TIME IS UP!!,” “WE’RE COMING for U,” and “We are everywhere,” on a reproductive health services facility in Winter Haven, Florida. Facilities in Hollywood, Florida, and Hialeah, Florida, were also allegedly targeted.
The superseding indictment also alleges that Rivera, along with Freestone and Smith-Stewart, violated the FACE Act by using threats of force to intimidate and interfere with the employees of a reproductive health services facility in Winter Haven because those employees were providing or seeking to provide reproductive health services. The superseding indictment further alleges that Rivera, along with Freestone and Smith-Stewart, violated the FACE Act by intentionally damaging and destroying the facility’s property because the facility provides reproductive health services.
If convicted of the offenses, Rivera, Freestone and Smith-Stewart each face up to a maximum of 12 years in prison, three years of supervised release and fines of up to $350,000. Oropesa faces up to a maximum of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida and Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division made the announcement.
The FBI Tampa Field Office investigated the case, with assistance from the FBI Miami Field Office, the Miami Police Department, the Hialeah Police Department and the Hollywood Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Thelwell for the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney Laura-Kate Bernstein of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.
Anyone who has information about incidents of violence, threats, and obstruction that target a patient or provider of reproductive health services or damage and destruction of reproductive health care facilities, should report that information to the FBI at www.tips.fbi.gov.
For more information about clinic violence, and the Department of Justice’s efforts to enforce FACE Act violations, please visit www.justice.gov/crt/national-task-force-violence-against-reproductive-health-care-providers.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.