by Steven Ertelt
February 5, 2008
Wichita, KS (LifeNews.com) — Kansas abortion practitioner George Tiller has been accused of tampering with evidence in a case regarding a local pro-life advocate. Mark Gietzen is seeking $4,000 in damages resulting from an April 2006 incident in which Tiller allegedly hit Gietzen with his vehicle as he was leaving his central Kansas abortion center.
Gietzen, the director of the Kansas Coalition For Life, filed the lawsuit in small claims court in November.
During a Tuesday hearing before Judge Stephen Woodring, Geitzen raised concerns that security video footage taken of the incident hade been altered.
In an effort to settle the case, Geitzen had asked to preview the security tape recorded by cameras at the Women’s Health Care Services abortion business.
Judge Woodring ordered the tapes to be played at the time of trial, if a settlement could not be reached.
Geitzen and Operation Rescue spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger viewed the evidence Tiller security guard John Rayburn produced.
They told LifeNews.com Tuesday that the video didn’t contain shots of what they expected to see. Instead, Geitzen and Sullenger were shown a series of computer images.
Attorney Scott Sanders, who was hired by Tiller’s insurance carrier to negotiate a settlement, told Gietzen and Sullenger that the security camera did not record video, but instead snapped photos in 3 second intervals.
However, the pair told LifeNews.com that the images were taken at as much as 13 second intervals, failing to properly record the incident. Additionally, three of the images the camera took showed the exact same timestamps, making their authenticity questionable.
"I have no doubt in my mind that the time stamps on those images had been altered and that images in the sequence were missing," said Sullenger. "This raises serious questions about the integrity of any evidence produced by Tiller."
Sullenger also complained that Tiller did not attend the hearing, but instead sent his personal attorneys on his behalf — something she claims is unlawful. In small claims court, Sullenger says Kansas law requires each party to appear on their own behalf and not have the representation of an attorney.
The judge indicated that Sanders, Monnet, and Shanneyfelt were not "representing" Tiller but were there only for "informational purposes."
"You can twist the language all day long, but the fact is that three attorneys represented Tiller’s interests against a single private citizen during that hearing," said Sullenger.
Another hearing in the case will be held on March 20.
In the incident in question, Gietzen says that as he and another man were measuring the driveway to Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services abortion center to comply with a law keeping pro-life advocates at a certain distance from it.
According to eyewitnesses, Tiller accelerated his Jeep Grand Cherokee directly at them, even turning to continue to aim at them as they began to move out of the way. Tillers Jeep struck Gietzen as he attempted to move, bruising his arm and leg, and causing pain for several months.
Gietzen says he filed the lawsuit to protect other people who pray outside the abortion center or offer help to women considering abortions.