Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on-line yesterday
a misdemeanor charge of harassment filed against Scott Skarda
, pastor of the Family Christian Fellowship Church
in Hazen, on a complaint by a patient escort at a Little Rock abortion clinic.
Karen Musick, a volunteer escort, reportedly filed an affidavit saying Skarda, who regularly demonstrates against abortion at Little Rock Family Planning, grabbed her cell phone while she was recording a protest Dec. 4 and refused to give it back. The article said she also complained that Skarda put his hands on her car as she tried to drive a patient to the clinic in February and grabbed an umbrella she was using to shield another vehicle.
Skarda disputed the allegations in an interview with the Democrat-Gazette. He said he never touched Musick nor did he try to block a car. He said he took the phone "after it was shoved into his face" and the umbrella "after Musick used it to poke at a protester." She took exception to his account.
Court records currently show no court date on the charge.
The Little Rock police do a quiet but firm job around abortion protests. I watched them at work as a group harassed people who attended Planned Parenthood's
recent fund-raising garden party. The protestors shouted at attendees, waved signs and, yes, took photographs. But police prevented the protestors from blocking sidewalks and streets. One officer counseled ignoring them and also added, with more confidence than I thought prudent, that they posed no potential for harm. The Planned Parenthood fund-raiser drew a record crowd, unintimidated by the protestors, who are a staple at the annual event.
PS: Skarda's wife, Deborah, gave her account of events on her Facebook page
. In it, she confirms that Skarda took the phone from Musick because it was too close to his face (though apparently not touching).