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.
Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »
Your comments are welcome!
“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?
Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!
“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l
Running Time: 40 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 219 pages
Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy
Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.
Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.
Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!
Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification
In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.
By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).
$7.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)