Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office to launch an investigation into the scandal surrounding the destruction of abortion records during the administration for former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
The destruction of the records led to a decision by a state judge yesterday to dismiss all 23 felony charges and 26 related misdemeanor charges against Planned Parenthood because the Kansas Health department (KDHE) destroyed the crucial records used as evidence in the case in 2005.
Although 58 of the misdemeanor charges for illegal late-term abortions remain to be prosecuted at a February hearing, Schmidt said late Wednesday that he has asked the Shawnee County sheriff to investigate and asked the county’s district attorney to handle any resulting case.
“’(Schmidt) wants a complete, separate investigation from an outside law enforcement agency,’ Sheriff Dick Barta said, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. ‘That’s why we were requested to do that.’”
During the hearing yesterday, District Attorney Steve Howe explained to Judge Stephen Tatum that former Attorney General Steve Six had destroyed the copies of Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) forms obtained through subpoena under former Attorney General Phill Kline. The destruction took place after Kline had filed the charges and while the case was under appeal. Howe indicated that the destruction of the evidence by Six “may have violated their own retention policy.”
Last month, Howe stunned pro-life supporters when he told Judge Tatum that the original TOP forms submitted by Planned Parenthood to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) had been destroyed in 2005 “for reasons still unclear.”
The forms were critical evidence since a copy of the forms were supposed to be maintained in the patient files. However, when Kline received the patient files after three years of legal wrangling, it was discovered that the forms submitted to KDHE and the forms in the patient records did not match. Judge Richard Anderson had the forms analyzed by police handwriting evidence and determined that the forms in the patient filed had been manufactured.
Recently, Operation Rescue received documents via an open records request that shows on August 10, 2005, Planned Parenthood’s Sheila Kostas made an e-mail request for information on all the TOP forms submitted by their organization for the years 2000-2004. The Kansas Supreme Court was set to hear oral arguments just a few weeks later on September 5, 2005, concerning weather Planned Parenthood and late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller would have to comply with subpoenas for patient records.
The records show that KDHE’s Greg Crawford complied with Kosta’s request the following day. Information supplied by Crawford could have easily been used by Planned Parenthood to fill out bogus TOP forms and insert them into the patient files to cover up for the fact that they had not maintained the records as required by law.
Without the original forms or the copies obtained by Kline, Howe told the court that he was left with an incomplete set of copies and cannot establish a chain of custody for them, making the legal hurdles in continuing the prosecution of the felony charges “insurmountable.”
Howe did express that he is proceeding on the remaining 58 criminal counts. The next hearing in the case was set for February 22, 2012.
“Steve Six must be held accountable for this destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice,” said Operation rescue President Troy Newman, who was present at the hearing. “What we have is a conspiracy to destroy evidence in order to protect Planned Parenthood. The more we learn, the more apparent it becomes that former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is at the heart of this political corruption. She appointed Six and controlled him and the KDHE under her administration. We must have an aggressive investigation of this scandal.”
Schmidt, who defeated Six in his 2010 bid for re-election, received applause from OR for his request for the investigation.
“We hope this investigation will be done impartially and without the political bias that tainted the Sebelius administration,” said Newman. “While we are disappointed and troubled that the felony charges cannot proceed, we are pleased that 58 very serious counts related to illegal late-term abortions are moving forward. There is still some hope that a small measure of justice can still be achieved.”
Kansans for Life Executive Director, Mary Kay Culp, attended yesterday’s hearing and said that Planned Parenthood’s attorney again went on a diatribe against Phill Kline and how the case had always been without merit.
She told LifeNews, “Despite Planned Parenthood’s pathetic efforts to once again use Phill Kline as a distraction, the facts are that two judges found probable cause to believe Planned Parenthood committed felonies, and the only reason it can’t be proved is selective and purposeful destruction of evidence at what may have been the very highest level of Kansas government.”
“At least four things need to happen,” Culp said, “a full scale investigation by current AG Schmidt into the destruction of evidence, possible ethics charges against former AG Steve Six and co-conspirators, a vigorous prosecution of Planned Parenthood by D.A. Howe for the remaining charges of illegal late-term abortions, and a full review of this case in its entirety by the Kansas Legislature.”