Abortion doctor’s killer faces hearing on intimidation complaint

The imprisoned killer of one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers faces a disciplinary hearing Monday over accusations he tried to intimidate the woman who reopened his closed abortion clinic in Wichita.

Monday's hearing against Scott Roeder, which will be held at the state prison in Lansing where he is imprisoned, will be closed to the public.

The 55-year-old abortion opponent is serving a life sentence for gunning down George Tiller in May 2009 at the physician's Wichita church.

The Kansas Department of Corrections filed the administrative charge against Roeder after receiving a letter from Sedgwick County Deputy District Attorney Ann Swegle asking whether the department was taking any kind of administrative action over a YouTube video of a jailhouse phone call with Roeder, DOC spokesman Jeremy Barclay said Friday. Swegle was one of the prosecutors in Roeder's murder case.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett's office said Friday that it did not request the disciplinary proceedings against Roeder, according to an email sent by its spokesman, Dan Dillon.

Barclay likened Swegle's letter to a “general inquiry” that did not recommend any specific action or direction, but said it alerted prison officials to the video and began their investigative proceedings that ultimately led to the administrative charge that was filed against Roeder.

At issue in the prison proceeding is a recorded jailhouse phone call that Dave Leach, an abortion opponent from Des Moines, Iowa, posted on YouTube in April. In it, Leach is heard saying that if someone shot the new abortion provider like Roeder shot Tiller, it would be “a blessing to the babies.” He called reopening the clinic where Tiller practiced “a gauntlet thrown down, by someone who wants a fight.”

Roeder laughed and agreed with Leach, calling the clinic's reopening “death-defying.”

“To walk in there and reopen a clinic, a murder mill where a man was stopped, it's almost like putting a target on your back – saying, ‘Well, let's see if you can shoot me,’ ” Roeder said on the recording.

Julie Burkhart, executive director of the abortion rights group Trust Women, opened in April Wichita's first abortion clinic since Tiller's slaying nearly four years earlier. The South Wind Women's Center provides abortions and other medical services in the old building that once housed Tiller's clinic.

Burkhart did not respond to a phone message left Friday for comment. Roeder declined comment for the story in an email sent to The Associated Press from prison.

The Class 1 charge of which Roeder is accused is considered among the prison's most serious violations and can result in disciplinary segregation, loss of privileges and extra uncompensated work, according to the agency's website.