Nine Defendants Indicted 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
WASHINGTON – 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 today 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, New Jersey, with federal civil rights offenses in connection with an alleged reproductive health care clinic invasion in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22, 2020. The defendants were charged with conspiracy against rights and a FACE Act offense.
The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia, alleges that the nine defendants 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. 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 services.
If convicted of the offenses, the defendants each face up to a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the District of New Jersey, District of Massachusetts, Eastern District of Michigan, Eastern District of New York, and Southern District of New York; and FBI Field Offices in Newark, New York City, Boston, and Detroit provided valuable assistance.
An indictment is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, and not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.