WASHINGTON (CN) - The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division sued a man it calls one of "the most vocal and aggressive anti-abortion protestors," who has targeted patients at the Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington clinic for more than 10 years.
According to the federal complaint, Maryland resident Richard Retta has violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act by intimidating and interfering with patients for more than a decade.
"Defendant Retta has been among the most vocal and aggressive anti-abortion protestors outside of the clinic.
"Defendant Retta frequently walks very closely beside patients as they walk to the clinic. ...
"Defendant frequently follows patients to the clinic entrance and continues to yell at the patient as the door closes.
"On one occasion, defendant walked so closely to a patient that he stepped on the patient's shoe and broke the shoe strap.
"Defendant frequently follows patients and/or their companions as they leave the clinic and walk down the block.
"Defendant frequently follows patients or their companions into the street and oncoming traffic.
"On January 8, 2011, Mr. Retta physically obstructed a patient from entering the clinic, and physically obstructed clinic escorts, such that the patent was only able to ultimately access the clinic with the extraordinary assistance and intervention of another clinic escort and staff," the complaint states.
While blocking a "visibly upset" patient and her escorts from the clinic entrance, shifting and weaving to block them repeatedly, Retta "shouted at the escorts and yelled to the patient, 'Don't go in there. Don't let them kill your baby,'" the complaint states.
Uncle Sam wants Retta fined $10,000 for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, ordered to pay compensatory damages of $5,000 apiece to three victims, and enjoined to stop violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Act himself and in concert with others.
The government says Retta "attempted to, and did, by physical obstruction, intentionally intimidate or interfere with persons because they were or had been providing or obtaining reproductive health services, or in order to intimidate such persons from providing or obtaining reproductive health services at the Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington."