Share this article

print logo

JUDGE WEIGHS DECISION IN ABORTION PROTEST

A judge is scheduled to rule today on trespass and other charges against 65 persons arrested during the city's first massive abortion protest last fall.

After three days of prosecution testimony, City Judge Anthony P. LoRusso reserved decision Wednesday afternoon. Attorneys for the defendants rested their case without calling any witnesses.

LoRusso said a verdict should be ready by 10 a.m. today.

In closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutor Molly Musarra said the defendants disobeyed Buffalo police warnings Oct. 28 and 29 as they blocked the doors of the Buffalo GYN Womenservices clinic at 260 Elmwood Ave.

Defense attorney Ronald M. Cinelli countered that police never proved any of the defendants actually heard police warnings or that they didn't have permission to demonstrate from tenants or officials of the corporation that owns the shopping center, the clinic site.

Cinelli also maintained prosecutors failed to provide any evidence of resisting arrest or obstructive tactics by the defendants.

Eighty-two abortion protesters were arrested on charges of trespass, resisting arrest and obstructing over two days. The shopping center is owned by the Peter J. Schmitt Co.

Sixteen defendants sought pretrial delayed dismissals. The Rev. James L. Evans pleaded guilty to trespass and was fined $25.

The lease of the six-year-old clinic has not been renewed. It is expected to move this summer.

During the brief trial, six of the defendants actually were identified by police officers as persons arrested on trespass charges during both demonstration days.

They are the Rev. Paul Schenck and Charles D. McGuire, two local abortion-protest leaders, and the Rev. David Dissette, Scott Chadsey, the Rev. Ralph Frederico and Raymond Knutsen.

On April 27, 86 abortion protesters, including Mr. Schenck and McGuire, were acquitted of similar charges by City Judge Alois C. Mazur in a Feb. 17 protest at two abortion clinics in a medical office building at 50 High St.

Mrs. Musarra pointed to testimony from Chief of Detectives ion protest
Angelo P. Alessandra that Charles Barcelona, president of Schmitt, asked police to remove the protesters.

She also noted testimony from Alessandra and other officers that the defendants were arrested as they stood or sat directly in front of the doors of the clinic.

Mrs. Musarra submitted 83 police photos, played about two hours of police videotape of the demonstration, which lasted for about eight hours on both days, to buttress prosecutions claims of illegal activity by the defendants.

Cinelli branded the police photo and videotape evidence "clearly worthless" because none of a half-dozen police witnesses was able to use them to pick out any of the defendants in court.

There are no comments - be the first to comment