Federal Charges Filed Against Man Who Allegedly Posted Online Threats of Violence at Women’s Reproductive Clinics
CHICAGO — An Indiana man is facing federal charges for allegedly threatening to commit violence at women’s reproductive health services clinics in Chicago and northwest Indiana.
LUKE DANIEL WIERSMA, 33, of Dyer, Ind., is charged with transmitting threats to injure and using threats of force to intimidate or interfere with reproductive health services.
Wiersma posted online threats of violence on at least seven occasions in October and November of last year, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Wiersma submitted the threats through the clinics’ websites, the complaint states. The clinic in Chicago provides reproductive health services, while the clinic in Hammond, Ind., provides counseling services related to women’s reproductive health.
Wiersma was arrested on Tuesday. A detention hearing is scheduled for Feb. 9, 2018, at 1:00 p.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier in Chicago.
The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Indianapolis, Ind., Office of the FBI and the Dyer, Ind., Police Department provided valuable assistance.
In one of the threats transmitted to the Chicago clinic on Oct. 29, 2017, Wiersma allegedly stated, “I will do anything and everything to stop the unmitigated murders of fetuses. I will do anything to stop the atrocities committed by your clinic every minute of every day at your clinic. You are all pieces of [expletive] and I will kill to stop these atrocities. I will blow you up if I have to, burn the clinic down. I will do whatever is necessary I swear to God I will. After that you are in God’s hands and He will do His thing.”
Transmitting a threat to injure is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while using threats of force to intimidate or interfere with reproductive health services is punishable by up to one year in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Abigail Peluso and Georgia Alexakis.