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Media Fail: Associated Press Profiles “Grandpa,” Longtime Street Harasser and Stalker of Women

Robin Marty

Funny, "grandpa" isn't the word that comes to my mind when we talk about a man stalking women down the street and yelling at them.

Usually, when someone says “grandpa” it evokes images of kindly, white-haired men pulling coins from behind young ears or whittling handmade toys out of wood.

Not “chase a woman down a street telling her she’s murdering babies.”

But the Associated Press, in an attempt at “balance,” has put up a profile of anti-choice self-proclaimed “sidewalk counselor” Dick Retta, a clinic regular who tries to talk women out of abortions and has been repeatedly accused of yelling, intimidation, and even blocking access to the clinic.

And they call him “grandpa.”

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“Dick Retta stands outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in downtown Washington three days a week, trying to persuade pregnant women not to get abortions. The 80-year-old grandfather has been coming to the clinic for eight years and said he’s personally persuaded over 400 women to leave this clinic and others,” reads the opening paragraph of an article entitled “Anti-abortion grandpa facing DC clinic lawsuit.”  The article repeatedly features Retta’s claims, as well as that of his lawyer, rebutted only by a few lines from the lawsuits against him.

They mention his lawyer Jim Henderson by name, but not that he works for American Center for Law and Justice, a group formed by Pat Robertson and that has been responsible for defending everyone from Operation Rescue to one of the creators of the Nuremberg Files.

As one clinic escort commented on a Retta profile, “I’m a volunteer escort at that clinic. Dick yells at every woman that walks in and out of the clinic, and follows them to the door. He walks extremely close to every patient, and harasses women. This is not ‘sidewalk counseling.'”

And he’s no sweet, loving “grandpa.”



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