CHICAGO, April 3, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On Friday, April 3, 2009, The Thomas More Society filed a Hate Crime charge in an Amended Federal Civil Complaint against an abortion clinic proprietor and ally in Rockford, Illinois as part of an ongoing court battle.
On March 29, 2008, Rockford resident Keith A. Sterkeson verbally attacked pro-life advocates Eric Nelson and Kevin Rilott outside a Rockford abortion facility, saying to Nelson, in part, "A Nigger, a Nigger. You are a worthless degenerate Nigger. Oh, you are a Nigger! You are a degenerate and empty skull, thinking Jesus is going to save you. You’re a Nigger. Your mother was a Nigger." (To view the verbal assault, follow this link:
In the space of seven minutes during the encounter between the pro-lifers and Sterkeson, Sterkeson, with a pitbull in tow, calls Nelson a "ni**er" 19 times, shouts the word "f**k" at him 36 times, called him a "degenerate" 16 times, and otherwise threatens and harasses Nelson and Rilott.
In the video the abortion facility owner, Wayne Webster, informs Sterkeson over a loud speaker that the police are on their way, and says, "You’re not acting any crazier than those other a**holes (the pro-life activists)."
The amended Federal Civil Complaint alleges that Webster monitors police radio calls and warns Sterkeson to leave the scene when Nelson and Rillot call the police, aiding and abetting Sterkeson.
"Here, defendant Sterkeson, with support from clinic proprietor Wayne Webster, was spewing forth hateful rhetoric - accusing Nelson of being a ‘half breed’ whose mother was African-American - on the public sidewalk in a loud and raucous voice," stated Tom Brejcha, President and Chief Counsel at the Thomas More Society. "Sterkeson’s uttering such hateful speech against racial minorities, while he was perpetrating violent crimes is precisely what Illinois has condemned as ‘hate crime.’"
On several occasions in the past that have been recorded on video, Sterkeson has hit Nelson and shoved Rillot, calling them "faggots." (To view additional footage, follow this link:
"Keith Sterkeson regularly harangues Nelson, Rillot and their peers with racist epithets, anti-religious bigotry and homophobic slurs on the public sidewalk outside the Rockford abortion clinic owned by Wayne Webster," Brejcha said.
According to the Illinois Hate Crime statute, someone commits a hate crime when they commit assault or battery motivated by race, religion, ancestry, gender, and sexual orientation. A Hate Crime is a class 4 Felony for a first offense and up to a class 2 Felony for subsequent offense. The victim of the attack is entitled a civil action for damages, injunction and related relief. The Illinois State Court can award actual damages for both emotional distress and punitive damages.