by Steven Ertelt
January 1, 2008
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — A Kansas lawmaker has apologized to a pro-life advocate who he attacked at a campaign rally for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Rep. Vaughn Flora, a Democrat, was originally found guilty of battery and fined for his attacking Operation Rescue leader Troy Newman but wouldn’t apologize.
Flora received a 30 day suspended jail sentence and was ordered to pay fines and costs totaling of $228. Part of his sentence also included court mandated anger management classes.
Because he received what Newman considered a slap on the wrist for the attack, Newman filed a civil lawsuit against Flora.
Rep. Flora refused to apologize for the incident but, on Wednesday, Newman told LifeNews.com that Flora issued a formal apology.
"I have always been a strong believer in the First Amendment and one’s right to free speech," Flora said in the two sentence letter written on personal letterhead. "I am sorry for my actions and the physical harm this may have caused."
In addition to the apology, Newman received an undisclosed amount of money in settling the lawsuit.
"I felt that the lawsuit was necessary to insure that Mr. Flora and others understood very clearly that physically attacking people with whom you do not agree is intolerable behavior for anyone, especially a state legislator," Newman told LifeNews.com.
"There has to be serious consequences for that, in order to protect others," he said.
The incident occurred during a September 9 rally where Newman dressed up in a cockroach outfit and donned a Sebelius mask and pretended to be her campaign mascot.
Newman’s actions, which he regarded as political satire, were meant to highlight Sebelius’ veto of a measure that would have provided for more safety regulations on abortion facilities. Newman dressed like a cockroach because his pro-life group recently purchased a former abortion business and found dead roaches on the floors.
Flora was upset by the antics and tried to grab the Sebelius mask off of Newman’s face, which resulted in cuts and abrasions on Newman’s face.
"In recent weeks, there has been an increase in attacks on pro-lifers across the nation," Newman added. "I hope this lawsuit sends a strong message that attacks on peaceful pro-lifers will not be tolerated, and that when attacks do occur, legal remedies will be aggressively pursued."
Bryan J. Brown, Executive Director of the ArchAngel Institute, represented Newman in this case.
Flora has been in the legislature since 1995 and ran unopposed last year.