Attorney General Schmidt asks Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office to fully investigate evidence destruction
Olathe, KS — District Attorney Steve Howe asked today that 23 felonies and 26 misdemeanors against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri be dismissed because evidence that could have supported the charges of manufacturing evidence had been destroyed. However 58 criminal charges related to failure to determine viability and unlawful late-term abortion will move forward.
Howe explained to Judge Stephen Tatum that former Attorney General Steve Six had destroyed the copies of Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) forms obtained through subpoena under former Attorney General Phill Kline. The destruction took place after Kline had filed the charges and while the case was under appeal. Howe indicated that the destruction of the evidence by Six “may have violated their own retention policy.”
Last month, Howe stunned pro-life supporters when he told Judge Tatum that the original TOP forms submitted by Planned Parenthood to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) had been destroyed in 2005 “for reasons still unclear.”
The forms were critical evidence since a copy of the forms were supposed to be maintained in the patient files. However, when Kline received the patient files after three years of legal wrangling, it was discovered that the forms submitted to KDHE and the forms in the patient records did not match. Judge Richard Anderson had the forms analyzed by police handwriting expert and determined that the forms in the patient filed had been manufactured. (View copies of one set of these forms.)
Operation Rescue received documents via an open records request that shows on August 10, 2005, Planned Parenthood’s Sheila Kostas made an e-mail request for information on all the TOP forms submitted by their organization for the years 2000-2004. The Kansas Supreme Court was set to hear oral arguments just a few weeks later on September 5, 2005, concerning whether Planned Parenthood and abortionist George Tiller would have to comply with subpoenas for patient records. (Note: On September 2, 2005, Operation Rescue documented the shredding a huge number of documents in the parking lot of Tiller’s Wichita abortion clinic.)
The open records e-mails show that KDHE’s Greg Crawford complied with Kosta’s request the following day. Information supplied by Crawford could have easily been used by Planned Parenthood to fill out bogus TOP forms and insert them into the patient files to cover up for the fact that they had not maintained the records as required by law.
Without the original forms or the copies obtained by Kline, Howe told the court that he was left with an incomplete set of copies and cannot establish a chain of custody for them, making the legal hurdles in continuing the prosecution of the felony charges “insurmountable.”
Howe did express that he is proceeding on the remaining 58 criminal counts. The next hearing in the case was set for February 22, 2012.
“Steve Six must be held accountable for this destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice,” said Operation rescue President Troy Newman, who was present at the hearing. “What we have is a conspiracy to destroy evidence in order to protect Planned Parenthood. The more we learn, the more apparent it becomes that former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is at the heart of this political corruption. She appointed Six and controlled him and the KDHE under her administration. We must have an aggressive investigation of this scandal.”
Later today, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who defeated Six in his 2010 bid for re-election, has asked the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office to conduct an full and independent investigation into the destruction of evidence against Planned Parenthood.
“We hope this investigation will be done impartially and without the political bias that tainted the Sebelius administration,” said Newman. “While we are disappointed and troubled that the felony charges cannot proceed, we are pleased that 58 very serious counts related to illegal late-term abortions are moving forward. There is still some hope that a small measure of justice can be achieved.”