John Ryan was found innocent by a jury of his peers in May 2018, and is now suing Planned Parenthood and the woman whose malicious lies put him on trial. Falsely accused of making a terrorist threat against a St. Louis abortion facility, Ryan was acquitted. The Thomas More Society has now filed a lawsuit on his behalf in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
The charges against Ryan, now proven to be false, arose when Casey Spiegel, a Planned Parenthood employee, reported that he told her there were seven bombs in the building. This supposedly occurred as she walked toward Ryan at the entry of the Forest Park Avenue Planned Parenthood parking lot on December 31, 2016.
Police arrested Ryan on the scene and held him for 35 hours, after which he was released on bond.
The Prosecuting Attorney for the City of St. Louis filed felony charges against Ryan, accusing him of making terrorist threats. A St. Louis grand jury refused to indict Ryan, at which point, on April 7, 2017, Prosecutor Kim Gardner’s office used a legal maneuver by refiling the case with an “information,” a process used to circumvent a grand jury.
“Planned Parenthood, Casey Spiegel, and Prosecutor Kim Gardner’s office branded me a felony terrorist, and that is permanently imprinted on the internet forever, yet I am grateful to the Thomas More Society and a jury that saw through these lies and acquitted me almost immediately after receiving the case from the judge,” Ryan said. “Actually, two juries have cleared me on these charges—first the grand jury and now the trial jury.
“On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2016, I was at Planned Parenthood doing what I have been doing for years there–offering loving alternatives to abortion to parents coming for abortions and inviting employees there to let us help them find another job.
“As an avid hockey fan, I wore my St. Louis Blues sweatshirt that day in anticipation of the Winter Classic old-timers game to be played that afternoon in St. Louis. New Year’s Eve for the Ryan’s typically involves babysitting for the grandkids. All of those plans came to a screeching halt when a Planned Parenthood employee, who knew me well, completely fabricated a story about me making a bomb threat on the public sidewalk in front of 4 other witnesses. Not one of those witnesses was interviewed that morning, nor was the readily available video of the incident viewed before the decision was made to arrest me and charge me with a felony for ‘making a terrorist threat.’ I spent the next 35 hours in police custody.
“That was 21 months ago. I lived with the public label ‘terrorist’ for 18 months before the city finally gave me my day in court and I was completely vindicated. But thanks to the internet, that label ‘terrorist’ remains associated with my name.
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“I am thankful to the Thomas More Society for its willingness to come to my aid and shudder to think where I would be if it were me alone against the system that sought to bring me down.”
The charges against Ryan, originally filed in January 2017, were cited repeatedly by sponsors and supporters of the Board of Aldermen’s proposed “buffer zone” bill, including Planned Parenthood. This bill would have kept sidewalk counselors and protestors opposing abortion a set distance away from the driveway into Planned Parenthood’s parking lot and building. Pro-life sidewalk counselors claim the right to access the part of the driveway that crosses a public sidewalk.
Sarah Pitlyk, an attorney with the Thomas More Society, explained, “This criminal charge, with its attendant bond restrictions keeping Ryan away from the Planned Parenthood facilities, succeeded in muzzling John and depriving him of his First Amendment rights to use the public sidewalk to voice his pro-life message, as he had done for years previously. This deprivation of John’s free speech and other constitutional and legal rights was based on bogus allegations by Planned Parenthood that were then advanced by Prosecutor Kim Gardner’s office.”
Read the complaint filed September 20, 2018, by the Thomas More Society in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in the matter of John Ryan v. Planned Parenthood and Casey Spiegel here