Abortion industry insiders have often cited the case against John Ryan, accused of making terror threats, when they have argued for buffer zones or other special protections for their business locations.
They want, after all, to keep opponents of their work away from their customers.
But those citations were premature: A jury now has acquitted Ryan of claims made by a Planned Parenthood employee.
This week eight women and four men on a jury in Missouri state court found Ryan not guilty of charges that he had made a terrorist threat.
The jury deliberated only an hour before clearing Ryan.
It was the second jury to clear him, since a grand jury earlier refused to bring charges, and the prosecutor had to manipulate the paperwork so the case could continue.
The charges arose when Casey Spiegel, a Planned Parenthood employee at a clinic on Forest Park Avenue in St. Louis, claimed Ryan told her at the entrance to Planned Parenthood’s parking lot on Dec. 31, 2016, that there were seven bombs in the building.
Police immediately arrested Ryan and held him for two days before he was released on bond.
The Thomas More organization explained: “The prosecuting attorney for the city of St. Louis filed felony charges against Ryan, accusing him of making terrorist threats. A St. Louis grand jury refused to indict Ryan, at which point, on April 7, 2017, prosecutor Kim Gardner’s office used a legal maneuver by refiling the case with ‘information,’ which is a process used to bypass the grand jury.”
Ryan said Planned Parenthood and prosecutor Kim Gardner’s office “branded me a felony terrorist 17 months ago, and that is permanently imprinted on the Internet forever.”
“Yet I am grateful to the Thomas More Society and a jury that saw through these lies and deliberated only an hour to acquit me,” he said.
The society pointed out the unproven allegations against Ryan “were cited repeatedly by sponsors and supporters, including Planned Parenthood, of the board of aldermen’s so-called ‘buffer zone’ bill, which would have kept sidewalk counselors and protesters opposing abortion a set distance away from the driveway into Planned Parenthood’s parking lot and building.”
Brad Blake, special counsel for the Thomas More Society who represented Ryan, said a video of the encounter clearly reveals that the abortion worker “had zero reaction when Mr. Ryan … was speaking to her.”
“This criminal charge, with its attendant bond restrictions that keep John away from the Planned Parenthood facilities, succeeded in muzzling him and depriving him of his First Amendment rights to use the public sidewalk, as he had for years previously, to voice his pro-life message. This deprivation of his free speech rights was based on bogus allegations by Planned Parenthood that were then advanced by Prosecutor Kim Gardner’s office,” he said.
Blake charged that the prosecutor was not seeking justice but was seeking to persecute Ryan, especially since the grand jury said there was no evidence, and he passed a polygraph test.