Out-of-state abortion protesters bound over to stand trial

FLINT TOWNSHIP — Four anti-abortion activists will stand trial on charges that include two-year felony charges for resisting arrest during a protest at a Flint Township abortion clinic.

Genesee District Court Judge Vikki Bayeh Haley determined Monday that there is probable cause that the crimes the four protesters are accused of were committed and that they committed them. They also are charged with misdemeanor trespass and disturbing the peace.

The defendants charged for entering the Women’s Center of Flint on June 7 and refusing to leave are William Goodman, 50, of Seattle, Wash.; Lauren Handy, 25, of Baton Rouge, La.; Joseph Connolly, 37, of St. Paul, Minn.; and Patrice Woodworth, no age listed, of Winona, Minn.

Abortion rights activists had targeted the clinic with outdoor protests on an almost daily basis for several years. Bayeh Haley said the activists were on private property the day they entered the clinic and could have protested on public property or surrendered to police.

Flint Township police officers and Michigan State Police troopers responded to the reports of trespassing at the clinic and said they and the clinic’s office manager repeatedly told the protesters to leave, but the protesters ignored the orders. As they were about to be arrested, the protesters went limp, and several officers carried them out of the clinic to police cars.

Protesters said the Flint Township protest was the third Michigan protest their group has participated in since September 2017, but it is the first case involving felony charges. The case is scheduled to be heard in Genesee Circuit Court by Judge David Newblatt. — J.J.