Washington, DC - Benjamin David Curell, 28, of Ellettsville, Indiana, pleaded guilty in federal court today to one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes it a federal crime to damage the property of a reproductive health services facility because of the services offered there. 

The plea stems from an incident that occurred during the early morning hours on April 11, 2013, when Curell broke into the Bloomington, Indiana, Planned Parenthood Clinic and caused extensive damage to the clinic building and its equipment.

Curell was sentenced by Magistrate Judge Mark Dinsmore to three years probation.  Curell was also ordered to pay more than $22,000 in restitution.  Curell’s federal sentence is to run concurrently with a sentence he received in state court on a felony burglary charge stemming from the same incident.

At the time of his arrest, Curell admitted to police that he broke into the clinic and damaged equipment with a hatchet because the clinic performed abortion services, and because Curell wanted to shut down the clinic.  

“The Justice Department will not tolerate violent interference with the lawful work of reproductive health clinics,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “The Department of Justice remains committed to protecting our communities from such violent acts and will continue to aggressively prosecute these acts.”

The case was investigated by the Bloomington Resident Agency of the FBI and the Bloomington Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Sanjay Patel of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Jackson for the Southern District of Indiana.