Tampa/ Crime & Emergencies
AI Assisted Icon
Published on June 15, 2024
Three Plead Guilty to Civil Rights Conspiracy in Florida Pregnancy Resource Center VandalismSource: Google Street View

In a significant development in the case concerning the vandalism of several pregnancy resource centers in Florida, three individuals have entered guilty pleas to charges of civil rights conspiracy. A statement released by the Department of Justice confirms that Caleb Freestone, Amber Smith-Stewart, and Annarella Rivera admitted to engaging in acts designed to intimidate staff members of facilities that counsel alternatives to abortion, carrying out their attack under the cover of night.

The trio, operating between May and July 2022, dressed in masks and dark clothing while spraying threatening graffiti on the buildings—a tactic to obscure their identity yet send stark messages like "If abortions aren’t safe than niether [sic] are you" and "We’re coming for U". These actions, as interpreted by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, represent an attempt to "terrify the employees of those centers," according to the Department of Justice. Clarke further asserts, "Violence and threats have no place in the national discourse about reproductive rights."

U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg emphasized that both providers and seekers of reproductive health care should not face unlawful threats or harm. This case, driven by interagency collaboration including the FBI and the Miami Police Department, underscores the federal stance on safeguarding access to these services and prosecuting interference—a sentiment echoed by Acting Special Agent in Charge Rodney Crawford, who noted the FBI's dedication to protecting citizens' civil rights.

A sentencing hearing for the defendants will be scheduled in due course; each faces a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, according to federal district court guidelines. Simultaneously, further charges are being pursued against a fourth defendant in relation to the same string of incidents. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie Harris and Trial Attorney Laura-Kate Bernstein are handling the prosecution of the case, supported by the FBI's Tampa Field Office, which conducted the research and groundwork that brought the conspiracy to light.

Tampa-Crime & Emergencies