An abortion business and two employees have been ordered to pay nearly $2,000 to a pro-life protester to settle part of a case that erupted when a security guard there called police and falsely claimed the protester had made a bomb threat.
Judge George Steeh in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ordered Northland Family Clinic, an abortion business, and workers Renee Chelian and Mary Guilbernat each to pay Kimberley Thames a sum of $666.66.
Thames’ case against the city and its police officers now will continue, according to the American Freedom Law Center team that worked with Thames.
The penalty, the lawyers explained, was “for conspiring with city of Westland police officers to violate the civil rights of Kimberley Thames, a prolife advocate who was falsely arrested and imprisoned.”
“The judgment was also entered in Ms. Thames’ favor on her claims that these defendants are liable for false arrest and imprisonment under Michigan law and that Renee Chelian defamed her in a subsequent Facebook post.”
Robert Muise, AFLC senior counsel, said the “entry of judgment against Northland and its CEO, Renee Chelian, a staunch defender of abortion, is a total vindication of Ms. Thames rights.”
“For too long, abortionists and local police have worked hand in hand to silence pro-lifers and thus violate their rights,” he said.
“While this initial victory was important, we will be pursuing our claims against the city of Westland and its police officers with a vengeance. We intend to send a clear message to all cities and their local police departments: if you join forces with baby killers to violate the civil rights of pro-lifers, you will pay dearly.”
AFLC co-founder David Yerushalmi said: “Make no mistake, this judgment is significant. Such egregious attacks on the civil rights of pro-life demonstrators have got to stop, and we intend to do it. This is an important first step, but this fight is far from over.”
WND reported when the case developed last year that Thames was seeking compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages, attorney fees and costs and expenses from the Northland Family Planning Clinic and employees “John Doe,” Renee Chelian and Mary Guilbernat, the city of Westland and its police department, Chief Jason Soulliere, officers John Gatti, Adam Tardif and Norman Brooks.
According to the complaint, the unidentified security guard at the abortion business on Aug. 27 called police and lied to them that Thames, who frequently stood outside the business and prayed, had threatened to bomb the facility.
Thames then was arrested and detained over the weekend. She was released when the facts of the case were reviewed the following Monday.
“The pain, suffering and humiliation Ms. Thames endured at the hands of these city officials is shocking to the conscience. And Ms. Thames’ unlawful arrest and false imprisonment were instigated, directed and encouraged by Northland and its agents. We intend to hold all parties liable for this injustice,” Muise said at the time.
The AFLC is working with the Thomas More Society on the case.
Representatives of the abortion business and city policy department officials declined to respond to WND requests for comment.
Thames’s attorneys explained in a statement:
On August 27, 2016, Kimberley Thames went to the Northland facility on Ford Road in Westland, Michigan, to be a witness for life. She silently prayed on the public sidewalks surrounding the facility. She had no weapons with her. She never does. Ms. Thames abhors violence, including the violence of abortion. All she had with her that day was a rosary and a pro-life sign.
As she would often do, Ms. Thames engaged the Northland security guard on duty that day, assuring him that she was praying for him as well as the unborn babies. She also told the guard that she would pray he would find another job – a job that would protect life, not defend death.
The guard appeared agitated by Ms. Thames’ suggestion, claiming that his job was “fine” and that he was there to protect everyone. Ms. Thames told the guard that she was happy to hear that he would protect her as well. She had never heard this from the other guards.
The legal team said Thames left the area momentarily to use a nearby restroom, and when she returned, there were several police cruisers there.
“One of the officers approached Ms. Thames and asked her if she told the security guard that she was going to bomb the clinic. Ms. Thames emphatically rejected such an absurd accusation. Unbeknownst to Ms. Thames, a Northland employee and the security guard called 911 and made a false claim that Ms. Thames was threatening to bomb the Northland facility,” the legal team’s report said.
The police searched her vehicle and found nothing but cuffed and arrested her anyway.
According to the complaint, a Catholic nun who was there with Thames verified that Thames “never made any threats and that the guard was lying.” Police ignored her statements.
After her arrest, she was detained in a city holding cell for three days, the complaint explains. On Monday, “a city detective finally took the time to review the case, correctly concluding that no crime was committed.”
Police then forced her to walk back to her car, which she had left near the abortion business, according to the complaint.
“While in the city’s custody, Ms. Thames was not allowed to make a telephone call or to speak with anyone outside of the jail. … She couldn’t eat. The city jailers paraded various criminals in and out of the same holding cell,” the lawyers explained. “She was awake for over 50 hours.”
The complaint alleges violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech, its free exercise of religion, the Fourth Amendment’s requirements regarding search and seizure, the 14th Amendment’s equal protection requirements and bans on conspiracy.