Imprisonment of Rae Powell and Carol McAdoo
29 February, 1996
Re: Imprisonment of Rae Powell and Carol McAdoo yesterday in Newport News, Virginia.
Four local citizens who oppose abortion were subpoenaed before the federal grand jury yesterday. Two answered various questions; two did not. The two women who invoked the Fifth Amendment were “given immunity” and charged with contempt for refusing to yield. They were thrown into the local jail to remain indefinitely.
Questions from federal prosecutors pertained to “the Army of God Manual” as well as alleged unsolved fires or arson attempts at two local abortion businesses. Any copies of the “Manual” along with correspondence with anti-abortion prisoners and any correspondence with a former resident, Jennifer Sperle were demanded by the subpoenas.
Janet Reno’s VAAPCON (Violence Against Abortion Providers Conspiracy) Task Force has been seeking copies of since at least the beginning of the Alexandria, Virginia grand jury sessions which ended in January with no indictments after a 16-month probe. The Alexandria probe ended in January with the release of Cheryl Richardson of Arnold Maryland after she had been held in jail for “contempt” for two months. The Washington Post (26 Jan.) reported: “Within a few months after a federal grand jury was convened, investigators looking for a national conspiracy . . . concluded that they couldn’t prove it, but they continued the probe for about a year longer.” The Post went on to refer to law enforcement sources who said that the reasons for keeping the grand jury on the issue “include reluctance by Justice Department prosecutors to accept failure.” Some investigators “soured on the basic goal of the investigation. Playing off the code name . . . some called the probe “Crapcon.”
[Note: The diminished supply of the anonymous “manual” brought about by VAAPCON has made this literary work so scarce that an attempt to satisfy any demand for the literary piece was made by the publisher of a monthly newletter, Prayer and Action News. Publisher/editor David Leach of Des Moines apparently reprinted the entire “manual” in his January issue. Local media kept busy and Mr. Leach lost his job.]
Questions regarding actual “violent” deeds performed by abortion rights proponents (as distinguished from nebulous conspiracies) revolved around arson attempts at the Peninsula Women’s Center in Newport News and the Tidewater Women’s Health Clinic in Norfolk. Abortion opponents inquired after include Jennifer Sperle (relocated in Kansas), Ryan Martin, and Ed Hyatt.
Rep. Christopher Smith of New Jersey called for hearings on the VAAPCON investigation after the release of Richardson, declaring that a “full accounting is needed to find out how much was spent” and, as reported by the Washington Times, “to determine how the probe was handled and what was learned” (26 Jan). Nothing more from Rep. Smith or any other putative “prolife” or “civil rights” congressmen has been heard on the matter.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Powell and Mrs. McAdoo sit in jail, waiting.
Michael Bray is the editor of the quarterly Capitol Area Christian News and a pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church in Bowie, MD. The Church sponsored the White Rose Banquet on 21 January in Arlington, VA, honoring anti-abortion prisoners including Paul Hill and Shelley Shannon who inflicted bodily harm or death upon abortionists in the effort to defend children in the womb.
Prisoners can be written at Western Tidewater Jail, 2402 Godwin Blvd., Suffolk, VA 23434