Grand Jury Indicts Anti-Abortion Arsonists

Jennifer Sperle and Clark Martin, Virginia anti-abortion activists, were indicted on federal conspiracy and arson charges for fires at two clinics. Each could face 45 years in prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted of causing the 1994 fire at the Newport News clinic and the 1995 fire at the Tidewater Women’s Health Center in Norfolk. According to the indictment, Sperle also tried to instruct others in the how-to’s of destroying clinics and provided an instruction manual.

“The good news here is that they got two indictments, which indicates the Justice Department didn’t just abandon its abortion violence investigation as some anti-abortionists had mistakenly claimed in January,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “It’s encouraging that they could bring a conspiracy charge, because some anti-abortionists have been saying there is no conspiracy,” Smeal said.


USA Today - March 27, 1996

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