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U.S. DOJ sues five for violating Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in Fort Myers

Planned Parenthood Fort Myers

Five people are at the center of a federal lawsuit claiming violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which prohibits using force, threats of force or physical obstruction against any person because they are seeking or providing reproductive health services.

The Justice Department filed the suit Thursday in the Middle District of Florida against five people for violating the FACE Act.

The lawsuit alleges that Calvin Zastrow, Kenneth Scott, Chester Gallagher, Eva Zastrow and Katelyn Sims, also known as Katelyn Velasco, committed violations of the FACE Act in Fort Myers, on Jan. 27, 2022.

The five were arrested by the Lee Count Sheriff's Office on trespassing charges at the time. Gallagher was charged again in Fort Myers in 2023 on similar charges. Scott was also arrested again in Fort Myers, six months later, on trespassing and assaulting an officer charges.

Specifically, the federal complaint alleges that the defendants trespassed onto a reproductive health center’s property, blocked the entrances and temporarily stopped operations at the center.

The complaint seeks injunctive relief and monetary penalties as provided by the FACE Act.

“These five defendants deliberately obstructed access to reproductive health services,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Physically blocking those seeking or providing reproductive health services in order to impose their views is unlawful. The Justice Department will continue enforcing the FACE Act to protect against such obstruction.”

“The Justice Department ensures that individuals cannot pick which laws they wish to follow,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida. “We look forward to continuing to protect the rights of patients and providers to access reproductive health care.”

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