Kansas state Rep. Vaughn Flora
A major Kansas abortion supporter has issued an apology, and paid undisclosed compensation, to settle a lawsuit over his attack that injured a pro-life protester at a political event.
According to officials at Operation Rescue, Kansas Rep. Vaughn Flora apologized and paid the settlement to resolve a civil lawsuit filed by Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, the victim in the attack in September 2006.
The incident happened during a gubernatorial debate at the Kansas State Fair involving Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Newman and another pro-life activist had dressed themselves in cockroach costumes and appeared at the gubernatorial debate to draw attention to Sebelius’ support of abortion and opposition to even the most minimal clinic health and safety standards at Kansas abortion businesses.
Operation Rescue, one of the leading pro-life Christian activist groups in the country, at that point recently had bought and closed an abortion clinic in Wichita. When it took over the building, infestations of cockroaches, mold and other dangerous and filthy conditions were discovered.
However, Sebelius, as governor, adamantly opposed requiring such businesses to be inspected and follow basic health standards and rules.
In the attack, Flora, a Democrat, grabbed Newman’s mask and yanked at it, inflicting a bloody cut on Newman’s head.
Flora then was convicted of battery and was sentenced to a 30-day suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay fines and costs totaling $228. His sentence also included court-required anger management classes, Operation Rescue said.
The ‘cockroaches’ protesting the pro-abortion stance of Kansas leaders
However, Flora also told the Associated Press at that time he refused to apologize to Newman, and Newman then brought the issue to civil court.
“I felt that the lawsuit was necessary to insure that Mr. Flora and others understood very clearly that physically attacking people with whom you do not agree is intolerable behavior for anyone, especially a state legislator,” Newman said. “There has to be serious consequences for that, in order to protect others.”
Operation Rescue said the lawsuit, which was handled for Newman by Bryan Brown, of the Archangel Institute, was settled formally late in December. In addition to the apology, Newman received an undisclosed amount of money.
“In recent weeks, there has been an increase in attacks on pro-lifers across the nation. I hope this lawsuit sends a strong message that attacks on peaceful pro-lifers will not be tolerated, and that when attacks do occur, legal remedies will be aggressively pursued,” Newman said.
The apology from Flora, who serves on the state legislature’s energy, agriculture and pensions committees, was a terse two-sentence document:
I have always been a strong believer in the First Amendment and one’s right to free speech. I’m sorry for my actions and any physical harm I may have caused.
Flora had pleaded no contest in the misdemeanor battery case in Reno County district Court.
“What he did was shocking, it was extreme violence in front of 2,000 people,” said Newman. But he concluded the criminal case wouldn’t prompt any corrections in behavior.
“It telegraphs to the rest of the country it’s open season on pro-lifers,” Newman said at the time. “I bear no ill will toward Mr. Flora, but really, the message being sent here is that if you are willing to part with a hundred bucks, you can punch a pro-lifer. That’s really not much of a deterrent.”
The criminal complaint filed by the Reno County District Attorney alleged Flora attacked Newman “in a rude, insulting or angry manner.”
The maximum penalty for Flora, a real estate asset manager and developer, under the charge, a Class B misdemeanor, would have been a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
The lawsuit alleged Flora “quickly approached” Newman, and “struck plaintiff no less than twice about the head and face in full view of many attending the debate.”
The attack, the lawsuit said, “was extreme, malicious, forcible, outrageous, oppressive and unlawful.”
A two-inch wound resulted, and Newman still carries the scar on his face as a result, the lawsuit said.
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