Judge frees Fox News fan who threatened to lynch biotech CEO over Planned Parenthood videos
A man arrested for making threats of violence against a biotech company named in an anti-abortion propaganda video has been freed by a judge while he awaits trial, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Scott Anthony Orton, 57, of Puyallup, Washington, is accused of urging people to kill employees at StemExpress, a Northern California biotech firm. The Bee reports Orton offered rewards for others to kill company owner Cate Dyer or her employees, or said he would do so himself. Orton has a history of using Fox News’ website to call for the murder of liberals.
Pleas by Dyer and prosecutors that Orton be held without bond before his pending trial went unheeded by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman.
Orton admitted making the threats to the FBI after a series of so-called sting videos taken undercover by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress were released. The videos falsely claimed Planned Parenthood was harvesting fetal tissue and profiting off sales to biotech firms. StemExpress was named in the videos as one such firm.
According to FactCheck.org, Planned Parenthood covers its costs for providing fetal tissue from abortion procedures for medical research. It does not profit off the interaction.
“To allow Mr. Orton to roam free for months before his trial while his victims continue to live in fear on a daily basis would be a grave injustice,” Dyer said, according to the Bee. “His anger and hate have caused permanent trauma to me, my staff, our families and students that intern at StemExpress.”
Dyer added that Orton’s messages “described how to murder us, where to murder us and offered to pay others to murder us because in his words ‘our deaths are worth more than our lives.’
Orton’s threats are indeed graphic and disturbing. When asked by agents why he wrote the threats, he responded by calling Dyer a “death profiteer” and said she “should be hung by the neck using piano wire and propped up on the lawn in front of the building.”
Orton said he got the idea to use piano wire from a documentary about Hitler he had watched. He remained unrepentant even when agents pointed out charges he could face. When told the message he sent that said, “I’ll pay ten grand to whomever beats me to Dyer” could constitute solicitation for murder for hire, Orton responded, “The way I saw it in my mind, it would be more like a fund for defense.”
He also threatened that Dyer “will have to face the souls of the babies she’s bought and sold when she arrives on the other side. I’m sending her there early.
Dyer herself was featured in another “sting” video that was released about six weeks later. StemExpress has since ended its arrangement with Planned Parenthood. In a court statement, Dyer described the effects of Orton’s threats.
[M]ultiple security, tactical and law enforcement teams suddenly began walking our hallways and homes carrying guns and training our staff on how to deal with attackers and active shooter situations on site. Police and our security team members chased cars that were following our families. Staff members have taken time off work due to stress and emotional unrest. Bomb surveillance protocols have been established and our building has been put on permanent lockdown. The expense for these services has been astronomical. I began to have full-time armed security protect our office, me personally, and my family.
Her fears are not unfounded. In November, Robert Lewis Dear was arrested for opening fire at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, killing three people.
Orton’s next court date is February 9. He faces five years if convicted.