A protester and a priest in Tennesee are being charged with assault and criminal trespass respectively for their actions in a protest at a reproductive health clinic in Knoxville.
While protestors were outside Volunteer Women’s Medical Clinic, 313 Concord Street, Rev. Fr. Richard G. Armstrong, 39, of Knoxville, placed a cross in a grassy area on what was allegedly believed to be public property. However, the property belongs to the facility.
A few minutes later, clinic owner and Director Deborah Walsh, 58, came out of the building, showed the protestors that she had a federal injunction against protestors on the property and removed the cross.
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Then William Robert Gogar, 52, of Knoxville, drove up in a pickup truck, got out and, according to Walsh, used the cross to push her to the ground.
Gogar also allegedly grabbed her arm and pushed her to the ground a second time.
Walsh had a visible scrape on her right leg and scratches on her elbow.
Gogar was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and assault.
Armstrong, who is the assistant director of the Diocese of Knoxville’s Christian Formation Office, is charged with criminal trespassing.
The diocese has stated that the priest’s actions represented himself, not the church he works for.