Judge Dismisses Charges Against Abortion Protesters

Associated Press - Posted on Thu, Dec. 23, 2004

ALLENTOWN, PA. - Citing a ruling from a federal judge, a district justice has dismissed charges against four abortion protesters.

Police said four protesters continued to walk up and down an alley behind the Allentown Women's Center on Nov. 2 after being told to move off the alley to keep it clear.

Kathleen R. Mondok, 73, of Bethlehem, and Allentown residents Joseph A. Arrietta, 74, Thomas L. Portland, 57, and Edward J. Kuchar, 73, were demonstrating against abortions performed at the clinic, and tried to talk women visiting the clinic out of having abortions. All four were cited for loitering and obstructing public places.

Allentown District Justice Carl L. Balliet dismissed the citations on Monday, citing an August ruling from a federal judge allowing protesters to remain on "the public walkways" of the alley, which has no sidewalk.

"I'm just following the (federal) judge's ruling," Balliet said Wednesday. "The ruling says (protesters) can be there as long as they're not obstructing traffic."

City officials have said the ruling has made it difficult to enforce ordinances.


Information from: The Morning Call,