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.
September 17, 2023 - A federal jury convicted three defendants of charges of federal civil rights offenses in connection with the Oct. 22, 2020, invasion of a reproductive health care clinic in Washington, D.C.
According to evidence presented at trial, Jonathan Darnel, 41, of Arlington, Virginia; Jean Marshall, 73, of Kingston, Massachusetts; and Joan Bell, 74, of Montague, New Jersey, 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 by another co-conspirator and broadcast on Facebook.
According to evidence presented at trial, Marshall and Bell were among a group that forcefully entered the clinic and blockaded 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.
The defendants each face a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $350,000. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 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.
Five additional co-conspirators were convicted in August on the same counts. Lauren Handy, 28, of Alexandria, Virginia; John Hinshaw, 67, of Levittown, New York; Healther Idoni, 61, of Linden, Michigan; William Goodman, 52, of the Bronx, New York; and Herb Geraghty, 25, of Pittsburgh, were also convicted of felony conspiracy against rights and a FACE Act offense. One co-defendant, Jay Smith, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months in prison. Another co-defendant, Paulette Harlow, is awaiting trial on similar charges.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia and Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI Washington Field Office is investigating this case, with assistance from the FBI Field Offices in Pittsburgh, Newark, New York City, Boston and Detroit and the Metropolitan Police Department.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section are prosecuting this case, with valuable assistance from 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.Source: DOJ Release