By Editorial Staff
Published June 22, 2000
James Pendergraft Is Accused Of Trying To Extort Money From Marion County
By Lynne Bumpus-Hooper of The Sentinel Staff
JACKSONVILLE — An Orlando abortion doctor who sued in federal court for protection from anti-abortion activists has been charged with trying to extort money from the Marion County Commission.
To abortion-rights activists, the federal indictment of Dr. James Pendergraft and his consultant Michael Spielvogel is chilling.
“We’ve gotten so little from the Department of Justice in the past that any naivete I had of justice for American women is gone,” said Patricia Windle, past owner of a Melbourne clinic and an outspoken advocate for abortion rights.
Abortion opponents hailed the move. They called the indictment, which may be the first of its kind against a clinic operator, a “wake-up call” for Pendergraft. He owns five abortion clinics, including one in Orlando.
“We hope Dr. Pendergraft and Michael Spielvogel feel indicted by God almighty and that Dr. Pendergraft will heed this and put his doctoring skills to good use caring for women and their babies,” said the Rev. Ed Martin, a vocal abortion opponent in Ocala.
The indictment, issued by a federal grand jury last week, alleges that Pendergraft and Spielvogel “authored false, fictitious and libelous affidavits” as part of their 1998 civil suit against Ocala. The extortion, the indictment says, came in their attempt to get money from Marion County through a court settlement of that suit, which eventually was tossed out of court.
The indictment says the two lied about threats they said were directed at them by Marion County Commissioner Larry Cretul when they announced plans to open an abortion facility in Ocala in 1998.
Pendergraft was not arrested. Instead he will be given a notice to appear in federal court sometime in the near future, officials said. Prosecutors in Jacksonville handling the case would not comment.
Cretul said Wednesday prosecutors have told him not to discuss the case because he will be a witness at the trial.
A spokeswoman for Pendergraft said the allegations are false.
“They are a distortion at a minimum and outright lies at the maximum. Dr. Pendergraft is completely innocent, and he will fight this fight as he has fought others,” Marti McKenzie said.
McKenzie said Ocala had been a “hostile environment” for Pendergraft from the moment he announced the clinic’s opening. She said the Ocala facility would continue to operate.
Spielvogel could not be reached for comment.
Pendergraft filed a federal civil suit against Orlando in 1996 to ward off an attempt to prevent second-trimester abortions at his clinic there. The suit was settled out of court for $325,000.
Nationally, the indictment was called frightening by people who support abortion rights.
“Abortion providers face so many obstacles and sources of fear that the last thing they need is having a prosecutor come down on them while they are seeking assistance,” said Betsy Cavendish, vice president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
Cavendish said there have been seven slayings and 16 attempted slayings at clinics nationally during the past decade.
In Ocala, the main goal of Pendergraft’s original civil suit was to obtain the right to hire off-duty police officers for security at the facility.
An abortion clinic was burned in Ocala in 1989, and Pendergraft said he wanted to prevent any violence at his facility.
He was successful with that request, but the suit was eventually dropped because of inaction on other issues, including whether to create a buffer zone for protesters around the clinic.
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Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
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Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
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A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
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Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?
This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.
Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.
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As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).
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