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California man sent to prison for terrorizing Planned Parenthood clinic

In a YouTube video, the 53-year-old father of three thanked Alex Jones and Infowars for totally changing his world.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A Southern California man was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for terrorizing a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pasadena for almost a year by shooting at it from his car with automatic BB guns on at least 11 separate occasions.

Richard Chamberlin, 53, was also ordered to pay $42,000 in restitution to the clinic for the damage he caused and for the security upgrades it had to make to the building because of his attacks.

U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald, calling the attacks "shocking behavior," wasn't impressed by Chamberlin's argument that his actions were due to uncharacteristic alcohol and drug abuse prompted by the death of his mother in 2020. That defense would have been more persuasive, the judge said, if it had happened just one time rather than 11 times.

"He certainly wasn't drunk or high this entire time," Fitzgerald said.

Chamberlin pleaded guilty last year to forcible interference with reproductive health services and being a felon in possession of a firearm. From June 2020 to May 2021, when he was arrested, Chamberlin would drive by the Pasadena clinic and shoot at the building from his car, shattering windows and frightening staff and patients. When he was finally apprehended, police found a loaded handgun in his car.

As part of his plea deal, he admitted that he wanted to intimidate and interfere with the clinic, its doctors, staff and patients specifically because the clinic was providing abortion services. 

The head clinician of the Pasadena center and the CEO of the local Planned Parenthood organization spoke at the hearing to share the anxiety and stress they endured because of the shootings during a time when they were already under much stress because of the rapidly spreading Covid-19 pandemic.

"Although fortunately no one was physically injured by defendant's conduct, this was the result of his chosen method of attack — cowardly firing a BB gun through the window of his getaway car to ensure an easy escape and conceal his identity — rather than a lack of intent," prosecutors with the U.S. attorney's office in LA said in their request for a four-year prison term.

After his arrest, Chamberlin told law enforcement that he had been an undercover investigator of Planned Parenthood for "Project Veritas," a far-right activist organization known for spreading conspiracy theories, and that he was targeted by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris because of his investigation of Planned Parenthood. He also accused Planned Parenthood of selling body parts of fetuses.

The FBI also discovered a YouTube video in which Chamberlin describes himself as an investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker and in which he thanks Alex Jones and Infowars because "watching him has totally changed my world." In the video, Chamberlin says that "it's time stop aborting babies and selling their body parts."

Chamberlin apologized to the victims of his terror campaign at Monday's hearing.

"I never intended to hurt a person," he told the judge. "That's not me."

Chamberlin's public defender Antonio Villaamil asked for a prison sentence of only one year, arguing that his client fell into a deep depression after the death of his mother during the Covid-19 lockdown and that, fueled by alcohol and prescription drug abuse, he made a series of horrible decisions for which he is now deeply sorry.

"He recognizes that he has gravely frightened and disrupted the lives of several innocent people," his attorney said in his bid for leniency. "He recognizes that, despite his views on abortion, his actions have no excuse."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances Lewis sought to pooh-pooh Chamberlin's defense that he was an otherwise peaceful man who had been derailed by depression and substance abuse because, after he purportedly ceased his substance abuse, he lied to the FBI about an arsenal of guns and ammunition he still possessed even though he wasn't allowed to own any firearms as a convicted felon.

She also noted that the YouTube video in which he touted conspiracy theories about Planned Parenthood, and subsequent statements to the FBI and Planned Parenthood investigator in which he repeated accusations that the organization was killing babies and selling their parts and in which he showed no remorse for terrorizing the clinic's staff, all occurred before and after he abused prescription drugs.

"There's only so much that depression, alcohol and pills can explain," Lewis said.

Follow @edpettersson
Categories / Criminal, Health, Regional

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