Three suspects plead guilty to attacking pregnancy help centers in Florida


Three individuals suspected of vandalizing a Florida pregnancy help center pleaded guilty to charges against them.

Amber Smith-Stewart, Annarella Rivera, and Caleb Freestone conceded to intimidation and threat charges related to their involvement in pregnancy help center vandalisms, according to a statement from the Department of Justice (DOJ). The three suspects are among many who engaged in attacks on pro-life organizations and churches in the aftermath of the leaked Supreme Court opinion regarding the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case in May 2022. Charges are still pending against a fourth defendant according to the June 14 statement.

The DOJ explained that Smith-Stewart, Rivera, and Freestone were charged with conspiracy intended to “injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate employees” at pregnancy help centers, therefore violating workers’ rights to “provide and seek to provide reproductive health services.” The three suspects have now admitted to their actions to vandalize pro-life centers “with threatening messages.”

Court documents reveal that the defendants launched the “targeted attacks” on Florida pregnancy help centers between May 2022 and July 2022. Upon pleading guilty to charges, the suspects said that they engaged in illegal actions “in the dark of night,” while “wearing masks and dark clothing” to ensure anonymity. They spray painted pro-life centers with “threatening messages” such as “your time is up,” “we’re coming for you,” and “if abortions aren’t safe than [neither] are you.”

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Although a sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled, each defendant faces up to 10 years in jail for their actions. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Tampa Filed Office and the Miami Police Department.

The guilty plea comes nearly a year and a half after Smith-Stewart and Freestone were indicted for conspiracy charges in January 2023. Rivera was indicted the following March for her involvement with the Florida attacks, alongside another defendant, Gabriella Oropesa. The same month, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a lawsuit against the two suspects for violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.

This federal law requires that reproductive health providers, which legally encompass both pro-life pregnancy help centers and abortion clinics, be freely able to provide their various services to women and protects them from intimidation or threats from the public.

Although it has notoriously been used against pro-life activists and in defense of abortion providers, the FBI told Heartbeat International in December 2023 that it would use the FACE Act to protect pregnancy help centers from illegal intimidation.

Tweet This: While the FACE Act has been used against pro-lifers, the FBI told Heartbeat International it would be used to protect pregnancy help centers

Moody’s lawsuit marked the first time an attorney general has used the federal statute to protect pregnancy help centers. The Florida official was one of 19 state attorney generals to sign a letter addressed to the federal Attorney General Merrick Garland in July 2022, amid the slew of attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and churches.

The message, which was written by Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost, demanded accountability from the federal justice system in the many cases of vandalism and intimidation across the country, saying that “inaction is intolerable” and accused Garland of permitting pregnancy help centers to be “terrorized” because their work does not align with “the pro-abortion cause.”

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.

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