John Burt, an anti-abortion extremist, was taken into custody yesterday after losing an appeal of his conviction for molesting a 15-year-old girl who was in his care at his so-called home for “unwed” mothers, Our Father’s House. A three-judge panel of the First District Court of Appeal ruled unanimously to uphold Burt’s conviction, the Associated Press reports. Burt will continue to appeal his conviction and sentence of 18 years in prison, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
In the early 1980s, John Burt, who was the Regional Director of Rescue America at the time, was at the center of disruptions at the Pensacola, Florida clinics. In 1986, Burt led an invasion into the Ladies Center Clinic in Pensacola, which led to his arrest and conviction along with Joan Andrews Bell, an associate of James Kopp, who was convicted of assassinating Dr. Barnett Slepian. Joseph Scheidler was touring at the time on his book, “99 Ways to Close an Abortion Clinic.” Scheidler was on the lawn in front of the clinic at the time of the invasion. This incident was the impetus for the NOW v. Scheidler case, which will be heard by the US Supreme Court for the third time this fall.
In 1993, Burt was leading a Rescue America protest outside the second Pensacola clinic when an Our Father’s House volunteer, Michael Griffin, shot and killed Dr. David Gunn in the rear of the clinic. Burt was also an associate of Paul Hill, who murdered Dr. Bayard Britton and volunteer escort James Barrett outside the Ladies Center Clinic in Pensacola in 1994. Burt was videotaped helping Paul Hill identify Dr. Britton outside the clinic in the weeks before Hill shot and killed Dr. Britton and his clinic escort.