Continued imprisonment of Rae Powell in Newport News, Virginia.
8 March, 1996
Re: Continued imprisonment of Rae Powell in Newport News, Virginia.
Four local citizens who oppose abortion were subpoenaed before the federal grand jury on 28 Feb. Two answered various questions; two did not. Ray Powell and Carol McAdoo invoked the Fifth Amendment and were immediately “given immunity.” Upon refusal to yield and answer questions the women were summarily charged with contempt and thrown into the local jail. One week later, Mrs. McAdoo, whose grandchild is soon to be born, was released. Conditions for the release were not revealed. The Virginian-Pilot (7 March) simply reported that “U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar released McAdoo after a closed hearing in Norfolk federal court. Doumar placed a gag order on all participants, citing the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.”
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 pamphlet was made by the publisher of a monthly newsletter, Prayer and Action News. Publisher/editor David Leach of Des Moines apparently reprinted the entire “manual” in his January issue. 515-256-0637]
Questions regarding actual “violent” deeds performed by abortion 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.
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 sits 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.
Mrs. Powell can be written at Western Tidewater Jail, 2402 Godwin Blvd., Suffolk, VA 23434