Former Kansas prosecutor Phill Kline is back for the second part of hearings on politically-motivated charges that he acted improperly during his investigations of abortion clinics.
The hearings are taking place even though recently released documents show that investigators for the Disciplinary Administrator cleared Kline of any wrong-doing in 2008. In a Disciplinary Report filed with the Disciplinary Administrator on May 22, 2008, a team of investigators carefully looked into the trumped-up ethics charges against Kline. Their determination left no question that Kline did nothing improper to warrant further action.
“After reviewing the substantial documentation in this case, it is the opinion of these investigators that there is not probable cause to prove that Phill Kline violated any of the rules of ethics,” they wrote.
Yesterday, Kline resumed the second part of the ethics trial on the charges that he improperly handled his investigations of Planned Parenthood and late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller while serving as Attorney General and later as Johnson County District Attorney.
The hearing focused on the allegation that Kline lied to the grand jury investigating Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri that had been convened through a citizen petition process started by various pro-life groups. The petition signatures called for a grand jury to investigate allegations against Planned Parenthood that it violated Kansas’ late-term abortion laws and failed to report cases of sexual abuse of minors seeking abortions.
The grand jury ultimately concluded its case without any indictments, much to the chagrin of pro-life groups.
According to the pro-life group Operation Rescue and a report at the Kansas Watchdog blog, grand jury foreman Stephanie Hensel testified that she filed the ethics complaint against Kline because she believed he had misled the grand jury as to the true application of the mandatory child abuse reporting law and did not tell them of the outcome of a federal case, Aid for Women v. Foulston, where a judge determined that abortion clinics must report suspected sexual activity in minors only if they believe that the activity has caused harm to the child.
Kline insists he explained the law to the grand jurors reflecting the AFW v. Foulston findings almost word for word. The AFW decision has since been rendered “moot” because the reporting law was changed by the Kansas legislature.
Kline also said that a secret agreement entered into by four grand jury members with Planned Parenthood to obtain only records Planned Parenthood wanted them to see “killed the process.” While Hensel testified that she believed at first the grand jury would issue a “true bill” recommending criminal charges against Planned Parenthood, the grand jury in the end failed to indict due to the secret agreement.
“We are shocked to learn that a few grand jurors went off the reservation to made a deal with the object of their criminal investigation and in doing so subverted justice in this case. This is a betrayal of the confidence of thousands of Kansans who signed the petition to convene the grand jury to investigate Planned Parenthood,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “Thankfully, there is still a criminal case against Planned Parenthood that is moving forward and we pray that the political corruption that subverted the grand jury will not taint the current case.”
As District Attorney, Kline filed 107 criminal charges against Planned Parenthood in 2007 alleging it conducted illegal late-term abortions and manufactured evidence to cover up their crimes. The validity of that case was scrutinized by the Kansas Supreme Court for two years, and now it is finally moving forward. A preliminary hearing is set for October.