PHILADELPHIA Federal prosecutors filed a civil action yesterday seeking the removal of postings on an anti-abortion activist's Web site that authorities said exhorted readers to kill an abortion provider by shooting her in the head.
In the filing, U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan seeks to force John Dunkle, 72, of Reading, to remove the alleged threats from his Web page and prohibit him from publishing similar messages containing names, addresses or photographs of health clinic staff members.
One posting, which featured the provider's name, photo and address, stated that "While it does not sound good to say go shoot her between the eyes, it sounds even worse to say let her alone."
Dunkle said he did not write the message on the blog, but that he did post it. He said that, if asked, he would take it down and identify its author.
"If they tell me not to print it, I won't print it," he said. Dunkle said he was not sure if he agreed with the statement.
Prosecutors said the posting targeted a former clinician for the Philadelphia Women's Center, and that she later stopped providing reproductive health services because she feared for her life. Postings dating back to May 2005 target the same individual with similar language, authorities said.
Meehan said in a statement that the postings constitute a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
"This type of intimidation and scare tactic, regardless of one's beliefs or religious convictions, simply cannot be condoned," Meehan said. "Using a public forum, such as the Internet, to incite and instruct people to kill is tantamount to a form of domestic terrorism."
Patty Hartman, a spokeswoman for Meehan, declined to say whether criminal charges would be filed.