Life-advocates at a Brooklyn, New York, church are celebrating a final victory after four and half years of unjustified prosecution by the state of New York for false allegations of threats and violence outside of a Queens abortion facility. On November 16, 2021, the state filed a stipulation of voluntary dismissal in federal district court, dropping all charges against Rev. Kenneth Griepp and ten members of his Church@TheRock. The peaceful pro-life advocates and their attorneys from the Thomas More Society have been fighting the unfounded charges since former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed them in June 2017.
“We are pleased to see the state of New York has finally come to its senses and dismissed these baseless charges,” stated Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Stephen Crampton. “Justice has finally prevailed.”
Crampton detailed how Schneiderman and his successors relentlessly litigated the case, using hidden cameras, undercover investigators, and even a fake Facebook account posing as the page of a pro-life advocate, to try to find evidence of wrongdoing. “They came up with absolutely nothing, but that didn’t stop them from continuing to persecute these gentle Christians,” Crampton reported.
In August 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit made a stunning reversal of its decision three months earlier, and finally affirmed an initial lower court ruling in favor of the life-advocates. This unanimous opinion upheld in all respects an earlier ruling by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York that had vindicated the peaceful pro-life advocates.
“Our clients are peaceful, law-abiding Christians who care deeply for the innocent children in the womb being ruthlessly slaughtered in this huge abortion clinic,” explained Martin Cannon, Thomas More Society Senior Counsel who worked alongside Crampton in the case. “They also care for the women, many of whom have been bullied and lied to in order to coerce them into aborting their own children.”
“After the evidence was in and the witnesses had testified, the judge saw through the state’s case,” added Crampton. “It collapsed like a house of cards. The judge specifically found that witness after witness for the state lied. Our clients refused to be intimidated. They stood for truth, and the truth finally came out. And all of the defendants in this case were ultimately exonerated.”
“The case should never have been brought in the first place,” Crampton continued. “But the pro-abortion lobby is powerful in New York, and classless politicians like former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and current Attorney General Letitia James are only too happy to waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars prosecuting – or persecuting – Christians seeking to exercise fundamental First Amendment rights on the public sidewalks. Our clients’ only ‘crime’ was speaking out for the unborn, an unpopular and dangerous viewpoint in New York City.”
Read the Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal filed November 16, 2021, at the United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York in People of the State of New York v. Griepp et al. here [ https://thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Stipulation-of-Dismissal-as-filed.pdf ].
Read more about the Thomas More Society’s defense of Rev. Kenneth Griepp and the members of Church@TheRock as they were persecuted by the state of New York for their pro-life witness here [https://thomasmoresociety.org/case/people-of-the-state-of-new-york-v-rev-kenneth-griepp-et-al/].
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