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Verdict Won't Close Clinics, Doctor Vows

By Editorial Staff
Published February 2, 2001

By Frank Stanfield, Sentinel Correspondent

OCALA — An Orlando abortion doctor vowed Thursday to keep his clinics open, despite his conviction on charges of conspiring to extort money from Marion County officials.

A federal jury deliberated for eight hours during two days before finding Dr. James Pendergraft and his associate Michael Spielvogel of Orlando guilty of all charges. Both were released without bail until U.S. District Judge Terrell Hodges sets a sentencing date.

Pendergraft, who operates two Orlando clinics and three others in Florida, faces up to 30 years in prison. Spielvogel could get as many as 40 years.

“I’m disappointed in the justice system as far as saying that I’m guilty,” Pendergraft said. “But I will continue to fight that, and in the interim I will take care of women in their most difficult time.”

Jacob Rose, Pendergraft’s lawyer, promised a quick appeal.

Bill Parizek, a spokesman with the Florida Board of Medicine, did not comment specifically about Pendergraft’s case but said physicians must report being convicted within 30 days. A panel then investigates to see whether the conviction would interfere with a doctor’s ability to practice medicine. He said a clinic could remain open even if its owner is in prison if another physician is appointed to run it.

Pendergraft was found guilty of conspiracy, attempted extortion and mail fraud. Spielvogel, his real estate adviser, was convicted of the same charges, plus lying to the FBI and filing a false statement.

Pendergraft and Spielvogel showed no emotion in the courtroom, but County Commissioner Larry Cretul seemed relieved: “I believe this jury’s decision brought the truth out.”

Cretul’s testimony and his secretly taped FBI conversations with the two men apparently convinced jurors that Pendergraft and Spielvogel tried to get county officials to pay them off to keep them from opening a clinic in Ocala.

But Pendergraft’s supporters contended the prosecution was politically motivated by abortion opponents in this city 75 miles northwest of Orlando.

“We can see how an innocent person can be convicted in a United States courtroom,” said Dr. Sangeeta Pati, a spokeswoman for Right to Fight, a coalition of abortion-rights groups. “Abortion was an issue. Race was an issue.”

Anti-abortion activists disagreed. “It looks like justice was done,” said Meredith Raney, spokesman for Christians For Life. “It didn’t have anything to do with him being an abortionist. It had to do with extortion, but if it takes him out of the abortion business, I’m thrilled with that.”

Rose, Pendergraft’s attorney, said he would appeal based on what he called prosecutor misconduct. He failed Wednesday to get the judge to declare a mistrial based on Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Devereaux’s closing arguments in which he said Pendergraft, who is black, was “shuckin’ and jivin’ “ on the witness stand. “It was disrespectful,” Rose said.

Even worse, he said, Devereaux accused the doctor of bribing Spielvogel to lie on the witness stand, Rose said.

Spielvogel’s plans for appeal were less certain. “I’ve got to talk to my client about that,” said his attorney, Dan Brodersen.


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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

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.

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 200 pages

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.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

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