Testimony in federal court from a star witness for New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman exposed complicity by his office in fraudulent activity to entrap pro-life sidewalk counselors named in a lawsuit brought by Schneiderman.
The witness admitted in court to creating a fake Facebook account as part of a complex scheme to trick and develop dossiers on the sidewalk counselors who appeared in front of a Queens abortion provider, according to Thomas More Law Center (TMLC).
The witness then delivered the information to the attorney general’s office, which was fully aware at that point of her duplicitous actions, the legal group said.
In the process of establishing the bogus Facebook account, the witness also reportedly gained access to personal information of hundreds of pro-life activists and leaders around the country, whose data would have also been turned over to Schneiderman’s office.
The shocking admission came in cross-examination by TMLC attorney Tyler Brooks at a hearing before U.S. Federal District Court Judge Carol Bagley Amon last Thursday.
Amon is hearing arguments over whether to grant Schneiderman’s request for a preliminary injunction barring pro-life sidewalk counselors from coming within 16 feet of Choices Women’s Medical Center in New York City’s Jamaica neighborhood.
During the cross-examination, the Attorney General’s witness admitted establishing the Facebook page under the fake name of Shelly Walker, a TMLC statement said.
She described going to great lengths to fabricate an identity by using someone else’s photo she found on the internet, stating her occupation was a bank teller in Saginaw, Michigan, and posting weather reports from Saginaw to feign that she was there.
Schneiderman’s witness had also sent out hundreds of Facebook friend requests to make her fake Shelly Walker profile appear genuine, friending hundreds of pro-lifers around the country. She deliberately sought out pro-life and conservative groups and claimed as well to be a supporter of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.. according to TMLC. She even faking an emotional personal story of being talked into an abortion by her husband, whom she claimed she later divorced.
One of TMLC’s clients in the lawsuit was among those who received a friend request from the fraudulent Facebook account. The client had accepted the AG witness’ friend request, thinking she was a fellow pro-life advocate.
The witness also admitted she had shared the information of the targeted pro-life counselors with the New York Attorney General’s Office.
Schneiderman’s office at no time told her to stop or to delete the information gleaned from her phony Facebook postings, TMLC said, and the AG office set her up her with a hidden video camera to record pro-life counselors in front of the Choices facility.
The AG witness is in fact a Choices abortion escort.
TMLC president and chief counsel Richard Thompson expressed shock at the details revealed in federal court by the Attorney General’s star witness.
“I’m appalled at the Attorney General’s lack of respect for the First Amendment and his Offices’ encouragement and use of fraudulent means to obtain information so that he can persecute peaceful pro-life citizens who have become the voice of the voiceless,” Thompson said. “He has forsaken his responsibilities as an independent law enforcement officer and is now acting as an agent of the abortion industry.”
The personal Facebook accounts for pro-life group Operation Rescue leaders were among those targeted by the fake Facebook account created by the Attorney General’s witness.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, and Cheryl Sullenger, the group’s senior vice president, were both affected, Newman said in a statement.
“There is no telling who else was given our private information by this abortion activist,” Newman said. “Our personal accounts contain information about our families, who could be placed in danger should that information fall into evil hands. To have this kind of targeted spying sanctioned by a state attorney general without a warrant or probable cause is intolerable and a violation of our rights.”
Schneiderman filed suit last June against 14 plaintiffs alleging “threatening, violent, and obstructive behavior” on the part of the sidewalk counselors. His lawsuit asks the court to create a 16-foot buffer zone around Choices and to levy fines, attorney’s fees and compensatory damages against the defendants.
TMLC pointed out that just three weeks ago, in an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered, Schneiderman had ironically emphasized his crackdown on fake identities, impersonations, and fraud online.
During a recent hearing in the case, Judge Amon had told the New York Attorney General that leafleting is a “form of really protected speech,” and that sidewalks are recognized as the “quintessential public forum.”
Schneiderman’s support of the abortion industry is well documented, the Thomas More Society noted.
In April 2017, he openly opposed any defunding of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, stating, “I was proud to lead a coalition of attorneys general in filing an amicus brief against the Ohio state law that would defund Planned Parenthood.”
Schneiderman held a press conference in front of the Choices facility the day he filed the lawsuit against the 14 pro-life sidewalk counselors last June, alleging they violated the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (“FACE”), and New York State Clinic Access Act and City laws.
During the press conference, Schneiderman bragged that he had dropped out of school at age 17 to work at an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., according to TMLC.
"We are not a nation where you can choose your point of view,” he had claimed, saying pro-life Christians “run their mouths” with “unlawful, un-American rhetoric.”
The federal court hearing before Judge Amon is expected to last several more weeks.
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