St. Louis Woman Pleads Guilty to Threatening to Attack Planned Parenthood Facility and Staff
ST. LOUIS – The Department of Justice today announced that defendant Maria Terry, 47, pleaded guilty to violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and transmitting a threatening communication over the internet for posting on Twitter threatening to “blow up” Planned Parenthood facilities and injure Planned Parenthood staff. U.S. Attorney Jeffrey B. Jensen for the Eastern District of Missouri, and Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division made the announcement.
“Today’s guilty plea is an important one,” said U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen. “The Department of Justice takes violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act extremely seriously. This office will continue to prosecute violations of the Act, as was the case here, to ensure that every person’s rights are protected and preserved under the law.”
"The FBI takes all threats seriously, whether a threat is made in person or through the internet," said Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division. "As demonstrated in this case, the threat does not have to be carried out to violate the FACE Act."
According to the plea agreement, on Nov. 7, 2018, Terry posted a public message, or “tweet,” on Twitter directed at Planned Parenthood Action Fund threatening to blow up the facilities. The tweet was viewable to the public on Twitter and was directed at the user account “@PPact,” which is an account operated by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Terry admitted in court documents that by publishing the tweet, she was intending to make a threat and knew that it would be viewed as a threat. Additionally, Terry admitted that she intended to intimidate or interfere with persons seeking access to, or providing, reproductive health services through Planned Parenthood.
Terry faces a maximum statutory penalty of one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000 for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for transmitting a threatening communication over the internet.
Trial Attorney Emily Savner of the Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, prosecuted the case along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The FBI’s St. Louis Field Office conducted the federal investigation.