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Texas Planned Parenthood CEO fired after indecent exposure arrest

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 16:49 EDT
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Former Planned Parenthood Lubbock President and CEO Tony Ray Thornton. Photo: Lubbock Police Dept.
 
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LUBBOCK, TEXAS — The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has fired the President and CEO of their Lubbock, Texas branch, following an arrest for indecent exposure.

Tony Ray Thornton, 56, allegedly exposed himself to another adult male on Monday afternoon at the MacKenzie Park baseball field, according to a police report obtained by Raw Story.

“Effective immediately Tony Thornton has been placed on leave and will no longer serve as the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Lubbock, following his arrest related to a personal matter,” Mariah Sharpe, board chair of PPFA in Lubbock, told Raw Story. “Tara Haskell, formerly the Director of Finance, will immediately take over as interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of Lubbock.”

“Planned Parenthood insists on the highest professional standards, and we will continue to provide essential quality health care to the Lubbock community without interruption,” she added.

Thornton was charged with indecent exposure, a Class B misdemeanor that carries a fine up to $2,000 and a potential 180 days in jail. It is not yet clear if he was making a lewd display of his genitals with the intent to cause sexual arousal — which is the definition of indecent exposure — or if he was merely urinating in public, which has drawn charges of indecent exposure in the past.

His arrest comes at the worst possible time for PPFA, which has been under attack by Texas Republicans who’ve pushed to withdraw all taxpayer funding to the network of non-profit clinics.

As a result of Texas officials’ refusal to let PPFA participate in public health programs, the Obama administration announced on Friday that it would not give Texas any federal money for women’s health programs, which could cause over 130,000 low-income women to lose access to crucial health services.

Thornton was a vocal critic of Republicans’ attacks on PPFA, and his arrest will only provide more fodder for conservatives to claim they’re justified in de-funding the organization.

The police report from Thornton’s arrest follows, below.

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Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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