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Right to Life activists guilty of trespassing at Focus

By: JOHN C. ENSSLIN
May 8, 2009
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photo - American Right to Life member Jon Davis of Fort Collins walks to the entrance of Focus on The Family where eight members were arrested Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008 after protesting James Dobson's endorsement of presidential candidate John McCain.  Photo by Christian Murdock, The Gazette File
American Right to Life member Jon Davis of Fort Collins walks to the entrance of Focus on The Family where eight members were arrested Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008 after protesting James Dobson's endorsement of presidential candidate John McCain. Photo by Christian Murdock, The Gazette File 

A municipal court jury Friday found three anti-abortion activists guilty of trespassing last fall at Focus on the Family's northern Colorado Springs campus during a protest over founder James Dobson's endorsement of GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

The three-man, three-woman jury took about 30 minutes to find the three members of Right to Life Action guilty of violating the city ordinance.

Bob Enyart, pastor of the Denver Bible Church, his brother Brian and Kenneth Scott will face up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.

The three were among of group of eight people who came to the administration building to deliver a letter to Focus on the Family President James Daly. All three men acted as their own attorneys during the one-day trial.

The group objected to Dobson's changing his mind and backing McCain, who the protesters didn't believe was sufficiently anti-abortion. Dobson had previously vowed not to support McCain, who lost to President Barack Obama in November, "under any circumstance."

Several Colorado Springs police officers and Focus on the Family security officials testified that they repeatedly asked the group to leave.

Instead, the group sat down along the walls of the area by the reception desk during a nearly hour-long standoff.

Focus on the Family security officer Sam Moore testified the group was polite but said the reception staff felt threatened by their "crowding around."

Several police officers called as defense witnesses, however, said they saw no threatening behavior from the group.

Moore also said he asked the group to leave five or six times. Each time they replied with a request to meet with a Focus on the Family official to discuss Dobson's choice.

The Enyarts and Scott said they stayed at first because a receptionist said someone would be down to speak with them. Instead Moore ordered them out.

"I didn't expect this," Bob Enyart said of the threat of arrests.

Other Focus on the Family officials said they accepted the group's letter, but said a meeting with Daly or Dobson would have required an appointment. They also noted how the protest disrupted tours of the campus that day.

After the verdict, one juror said the panel's decision was clear cut.

"What was important to the jury was that as a pastor, you're supposed to obey the word of God," said jury foreman James Jones. "And the word of God says obey the law of the land."

To which Enyart responded, "Many of the Apostles and the Lord himself ended up in jail for their beliefs."

The city attorney's office will seek jail time for both Bob Enyart and Scott, both of whom have previous convictions, said prosecutor Anthony Moore. Brian Enyart has no previous criminal convictions and will not face a jail sentence, Moore added.

All three defendants said they were not surprised at the verdict. Brian Enyart said they were hampered by earlier court rulings that prevented them from raising larger issues of abortion and what they described as Dobson's "broken pledge."


For more court coverage, go to the Sidebar blog.

 

 

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