“Pastor" Peters’ Hollow Defiance
Putting on the best face
On February 7, Emma Epperly’s Spokesman article, “Church at Planned Parenthood [TCAPP] says insurance covered $850k in attorneys fees, plans future protests” added one more twist to a Spokane story that has dragged on for five years. TCAPP is the politico-religious product of self-appointed “Pastor” Ken Peters. The “Church’s”purpose is keep the cult’s followers whipped up and making news by harassing patients and staff of Planned Parenthood of Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Of course, the protests and harassment are all conducted under the camouflage of “Christian” worship and speech protected under the First Amendment. TCAPP is run by Covenant Church and Covenant Christian School, “Pastor” Ken Peters, former State Representative Matt Shea, Clay Roy, Gabriel Blomgren, and Seth Haberman.
The gist of Ms. Epperly’s Spokesman article is Peters’ posturing to cast, in the best light possible, the recent nearly million dollar civil judgement rendered against him and the other defendants listed above. The legal details were covered in “What Happened to TCAPP?”, but a few points beg for further emphasis after reading Ms. Epperly’s article.
First, to their discredit, City of Spokane Mayor Woodward, Chief of Police Meidl, and the County Prosecutor’s Office under Larry Haskell failed to enforce state law (and municipal ordinance) against “Interference with health care facilities or providers” (referenced in the above post). The criminal provisions of the state law allow for prosecution of the crime as a misdemeanor with potential jail sentences and fines. By declining to enforce the criminal provisions of the law Woodward, Meidl, and Haskell were, in effect, siding with the protestors. Their refusal left the plaintiff to mount an expensive and time consuming civil suit as their only defense against the harassment. Remember that when you vote. Regardless of one’s personal opinion, not enforcing a clearly written law is a dereliction of duty in a country supposedly governed by the rule of law.
Second, in Ms. Epperly’s article “Pastor” Peters is allowed to whine and posture:
“It’s like I have no chance against this bazillion dollar organization [the law firm representing the plaintiff],” Peters said. “I got crushed by the steamroller, but that’s what they do to babies, so.”
On Facebook, Peters has continued to call Fennessy a “leftist judge” who misinterpreted the law.
“They just hated our righteous stand, pure and simple,” Peters wrote.
This is bull manure, and shame on the Spokesman for printing it without comment. The plain fact is that hours of depositions and testimony demonstrated that Peters’ TCAPP repeatedly broke state law by harassing patients and staff at Planned Parenthood. There was no actual question of “misinterpretation” of the law—Peters and company gave up that point by not pursuing an appeal of the ruling. For him to pretend to “misinterpretation” is to depend on ignorance of legal process of his Facebook followers. Furthermore, Peters’ claim of being crushed by a wealthy law firm is pure nonsense. The Pacific Justice Institute, the “non-profit” law firm that defended TCAPP, is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. PJI is hardly a pushover to be “steamrolled” in the manner Peters suggests. Public filings in California reveal $4.3M in donations to the Pacific Justice Institute in 2020 (the most recent year for which data is available). Peters’ statement is an insult to his own legal representation. (One must also wonder if PJI conducted TCAPP’s defense pro bono or if Covenant’s insurance carrier noted below is covering defense costs.)
Finally, Peters struts and thumbs his nose at the civil suit judgment of $110,000 plus legal fees of $850,000, claiming that legal fees will be covered by Covenant Church’s insurance carrier, Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co., and the remaining $110,000 judgment, if not covered, won’t bankrupt Covenant (Peters has changed Covenant’s name to “Patriot Church”). For all his bluster, Peters omits what should be obvious to anyone who has filed a large insurance claim: Brotherhood Mutual, for all that it supports right wing causes, is still an insurance company that retains the right to raise its premium, withdraw coverage, or adjust its policy terms so as not to cover legal fees or judgments resulting from further infractions.
The article goes on:
The Church at Planned Parenthood and Peters have planned five events this year called “Not Backing Down” with the first set for March 14.
The events will start at 7:15 p.m., more than an hour after Planned Parenthood closes, and will be held across the street from the clinic, Peters said.
So for all his bluster and posturing about “Not Backing Down”, with this announcement Peters acknowledges that TCAPP will abide by terms of the now permanent injunction prohibiting protests for an hour after Planned Parenthood’s 6PM closing time. The injunction also stipulates that the protests must be at least 35 feet from the building, essentially mandating that they be held on the block across Indiana Avenue from the Planned Parenthood Clinic. That entire block is owned by the Salvation Army, the same folks the City contracts with to run Woodward’s Warehouse, i.e. the Trent Shelter or TRAC. The Salvation Army’s Food Distribution Center on that block across from Planned Parenthood closes at 7PM. Even if the Salvation Army were inclined to object to the noise (and possible trespass), the protests will be after their business hours.
Planned Parenthood plans to closely monitor the protests, implying additional civil suits if TCAPP resumes the proscribed harassment. One might be permitted to hope that with changes in City of Spokane government this fall enforcement of criminal law will become possible.
Keep to the high ground,
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