Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 4, 1990
U.S. Seizes Operation Rescue Funds
By Rita McInerney
Reports that Operation Rescue is relocating its headquarters to Atlanta from Binghamton, N.Y., were denied Dec. 28 by a press aide for the pro-life organization.
Some of our staff members are in Atlanta to help with rescues that will occur in the next few months, Barbara Duffy, spokesperson in Binghamton, said in a telephone interview. A story speculating on the groups move appeared Dec. 28 in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.
In a letter dated Dec. 5 and signed by the Rev. Joseph Foreman, acting director, Operation Rescue supporters were urged to send their contributions directly to the groups office in Marietta to help Atlanta efforts to protect unborn children. A postscript said no contributions were to be sent to the Binghamton office.
The organization plans to keep the national focus on Atlanta, according to Michael Hirsh, head of the local office. Foreman has been in Atlanta since before Christmas, according to Ms. Duffy.
On Dec. 21, the federal prosecutors office for the southern district of New York State seized the payroll account of Operation Rescue in Binghamton. The account contained about $6,000 while a second account seized contained about $900, according to Ms. Duffy.
She said the action came as a surprise since the organization had turned over some financial records as requested by the federal prosecutors. Paychecks had been issued to the 18 people on the staff and some had been cashed before the federal action was taken, she said.
The seizure was linked to the federal governments effort to collect a $50,000 fine levied against Operation Rescue. The case involved Federal Court Judge Robert Wards fining Operation Rescue $50,000 for disregarding an injunction barring protests at New York City abortion facilities in May, 1988. Instead, 1,600 arrests were made as pro-life advocates blocked access to these facilities. The injunction against the protests was granted at the request of the National Organization for Women.
Judge Wards ruling was appealed by Operation Rescue after he threatened to force the organization to pay $50,000 to NOW and Planned Parenthood among other groups. Operation Rescue appealed this through the courts and won a ruling from the Second Circuit Court in New York ordering that the fine be paid to the federal government.
Federal officers began attempts to collect the fine after Randall Terry, head of Operation Rescue now serving a prison term in a Fulton County detention facility, refused to pay it. Foremans letter of Dec. 5 said the federal prosecutors office in New York would take necessary steps to collect the money unless Operation Rescue posted a $450,000 bond while appealing the case to the Supreme Court.
Ms. Duffy said Operation Rescues lawyer in New York City said there are constitutional lawyers willing to post the $50,000 bond so the case can go to the Supreme Court. They feel it is winnable.
Early in December, three leaders of Operation Rescue were serving prison sentences in Atlanta jails. By Christmas, Gary Leber and Michael McMonagle were free. Terry remained confined in the Alpharetta Correctional Institution.
Leber, director of Operation Rescue in Binghamton, was released from Fulton County Jail Dec. 15 after his sentence was modified to two months, according to attorney Matt Coles.
McMonagle was released from Fulton County Jail Dec. 21 after posting a $2,000 appeal bond. He had been sentenced to six months in prison after being tried on the misdemeanor charge of obstructing the sidewalk in front of the Feminist Womens Health Center on Oct. 5, 1988. According to Coles, the conviction will be appealed primarily on the grounds that the state failed to present sufficient evidence to convict him.
McMonagle had petitioned Fulton County State Court Judge Thelma Cummings on Dec. 19 seeking release for time served. The judge approved the petition providing McMonagle paid a $500 fine and agreed to serve 125 hours of community service at a shelter for homeless and abused women. McMonagle said he was unable to accept these terms.
McMonagle, back in Philadelphia with his wife Cecilia, who is expecting their fourth child this week said it was a blessing that he was able to spend Christmas with them.
In the week before Christmas, protesters were arrested at two abortion facilities. Seventeen pro-life advocates were arrested Dec. 20 by Chamblee and DeKalb County police for blocking doors to the Northside Womens Clinic 3543 Chamblee Dunwoody Road.
They were charged with interfering with anothers business and released. Hearings were scheduled Jan. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Chamblee police station 3518 Broad St.
The next day, Dec. 21, 18 demonstrators, including the 17 arrested the day before, were arrested at Northside Family Planning Service on Peachtree Dunwoody Road. They were charged with criminal trespass after entering the facility and tying themselves to chairs in the waiting room.
The 18 were held overnight at Fulton County Jail and released on their own recognizance to await trail.