Three Defendants Convicted of Federal Civil Rights Conspiracy and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act Offenses for Obstructing Access to a Reproductive Health Services Facility
A Jury Found Defendants Blocked Access to a Clinic in Northwest D.C.
WASHINGTON – A federal jury today convicted three defendants of both offenses in a two-count indictment charging them with federal civil rights offenses in connection with the October 22, 2020, invasion of a reproductive health care clinic in Washington, D.C. The defendants – Jonathan Darnel, 41, of Arlington, Va.; Jean Marshall, 73, of Kingston, Mass.; Joan Bell, 74, of Montague, NJ – were each convicted of a felony conspiracy against rights and a FACE Act offense.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Assistant Director David Sundberg, of the FBI Washington Field Office.
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. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who presided over the trial, ordered the defendants immediately detained as required by statute. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.
As the evidence at trial showed, the 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. As part of the conspiracy, Marshall and Bell traveled to the Washington, D.C. area to meet with Darnel and participate in a clinic blockade that was directed another co-conspirator and was broadcast on Facebook.
According to the evidence, Marshall, and Bell were among a group that forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes. Once the blockade was established, Darnel – who remained outside the clinic -- live-streamed their activities on social media. The evidence also showed that the 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.
Five co-conspirators in the action were convicted in August 2023 on the same counts. Lauren Handy, 28, of Alexandria, Va.; John Hinshaw, 67, of Levittown, NY; Heather Idoni, 61, of Linden, Mich.; William Goodman, 52, of the Bronx, NY; and Herb Geraghty, 25, of Pittsburgh, Pa., also were convicted of felony conspiracy against rights and a FACE Act offense. One co-defendant, Jay Smith, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months of incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with valuable assistance from the Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI’s Pittsburgh and New York City 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.