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Anti-abortion activist accused of blocking DC clinic responds to charges

Jonathan Darnel is also facing a trespassing charge in Alexandria for refusing to leave a women's health clinic in November.

ARLINGTON, Va. — One of the nine anti-abortion activists - an Arlington man - federally charged for allegedly forcing their way into a clinic in D.C. and blocking the entrance is responding to the accusations. 

In a statement to WUSA9, Jonathan Darnel of Arlington said, "Any inconvenience, pain or ostracization I will suffer in the course of this upcoming legal wrangling is nothing compared to the suffering and abandonment preborn kids suffer daily."

"I should count myself blessed to be as lucky as I've been, and hopeful that through my testimony they will find some dignity at last. Praise God and may America return to Him."

An indictment this week charges Darnel and eight other defendants - including Lauren Handy, from whose home five fetuses were recovered on Wednesday - with conspiracy against rights and clinic access obstruction. The first count is a felony carrying a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

All of them are accused of using chains and rope to block people from entering Washington Surgi-Clinic on F Street NW. 

Darnel allegedly live-streamed the blockade, saying at one point, “We have people intervening physically with their bodies to prevent women from entering the clinic to murder their children.” 

His co-defendant Handy pretended to be a woman named “Hazel Jenkins” who needed an abortion and made an appointment for the morning of Oct. 22, 2020, according to the indictment.

On Wednesday, authorities said they removed five fetuses from the Capitol Hill basement apartment where Hardy lived. 

In a Facebook post that appeared to have been deleted on Friday morning, Darnel said, "There is no shame in being persecuted for doing the right thing."

The same post also linked a YouTube video to a channel under the same name that claimed to capture the FBI arresting an activist from their home at night, although when and where are unclear. An FBI spokesperson said the agency would not be able to verify the video. 

Through the Facebook group DC Area Anti-Abortion Advocacy, Darnel could be seen hosting live videos while holding anti-abortion protests across the DMV. 

In 2019, WUSA9 reported that he joined a group of protesters who set up outside Dunbar High School with graphic anti-abortion posters. 

In January 2021, Darnel faced charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing in Montgomery County. Court documents said when he refused orders to leave a clinic in Silver Spring, police had to physically take him out. A Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office spokesperson said the charges were eventually dismissed.

Credit: DC Area Anti-Abortion Advocacy

There is still an active case against Darnel in the Alexandria General District Court after an incident in November 2021. The warrant said he was charged with trespassing for refusing to leave the Alexandria Women's Health Clinic. 

A video posted on the same Facebook group showed him following the rest of the protesters into the lobby of the clinic where some members began singing and urging people entering the clinic not to get an abortion.

WUSA9 visited the address in Arlington listed on the court documents for Darnel. Neighbors said they never have seen him before but claimed the house is owned by a doctor. 

A woman who answered the door said she does not know Darnel. A pickup truck parked outside the house had tags that said, "Choose Life."

RELATED: DC Homicide detectives pull out biohazard evidence from home connected to anti-abortion activist arrests

RELATED: 'People would freak out when they heard' | 5 fetuses discovered in house where anti-abortion activist was staying

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