Rodney Allen, 43, of Beaufort, South Carolina, pled guilty in federal court Friday, May 29, to threatening to bomb a Jacksonville, Florida abortion clinic.
Allen pled guilty to one count of intimidating and interfering with the clinic’s employees with a fake bomb threat and one count of making false statements to a Special Agent Robert W. Blythe from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Federal law makes it illegal to threaten to blow up people and to lie to the FBI about bomb threats,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to enforce the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act to protect all people in our nation from the kind of cowardly threats and lies that led to this case.”
On August 29, 2019, Allen made a total of nine phone calls to the reproductive health clinic to prevent a woman he was formerly in a relationship with from receiving an abortion that day. He even called the clinic’s owner on her cell phone. He made an additional seven calls to other local reproductive health centers between August 18 and 30.
Employees recognized Allen’s voice from a previous visit to the clinic and notified the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to search and protect the office. The FBI later acquired subscriber information for the number and positively identified Allen as the caller. In a secretly recorded interview with Special Agent Blythe, Allen falsely denied calling the clinic and making the bomb threats.
According to the affidavit submitted to federal court, these events took place after Allen sexually assaulted his former girlfriend – referred to in the affidavit as A.S. – which resulted in her becoming pregnant.
A.S. had previously made almost a dozen attempts to terminate the pregnancy, making appointments at clinics in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. Each time she made an appointment, a person believed to be Allen called the clinics on her behalf and canceled them. Employees of the Jacksonville clinic testified they believed that Allen had access to A.S.’s phone calls and text messages and had somehow obtained A.S.’s personal patient code, which allowed him to cancel her appointments without her consent.
In her testimony, A.S. alleged that Allen had been physically abusive throughout their relationship and had threatened to kill members of her family if she terminated the pregnancy. Clinic employees testified that Allen’s behavior made them fear for A.S.’s life.
Court documents do not confirm whether or not A.S. was able to obtain the abortion.
“Health care facilities, and those who receive their services, should be able to operate free from fear of threats or harm,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez, the lead prosecutor on the case. “We will continue to work with our public safety partners to ensure that no one is prohibited from exercising their right to work or access to care.”
Sources: WJXT News 6/1/2020; Office of Public Affairs Press Release 5/29/2020; Vice 10/7/2019