Charges dropped against anti-Obama protesters

May 7, 2011

(RNS) An Indiana prosecutor on Thursday (May 5) dropped trespassing
charges against nearly 80 anti-abortion activists who protested
President Obama's 2009 commencement address and honorary degree at the
University of Notre Dame.

Because Obama supports legalized abortion, some Catholics --
including dozens of bishops -- accused Notre Dame of tacitly endorsing
his views and violating church teaching.

In all, 94 protesters were arrested for refusing to leave Notre
Dame's campus as the date of Obama's speech approached in May 2009.

St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Dvorak said he is
"confident that convictions could have been secured," but has "decided
not to stand in the way of the university's efforts to reconcile with
the charged defendants."

"Rather than pursuing criminal litigation, the defendants and the
victim, Notre Dame, wish to put these prior criminal trespass acts
behind them," Dvorak said in a statement.

Notre Dame and the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based Catholic law
firm that represented about 80 protesters, reached an agreement "in the
spirit of reconciliation and continuing dialogue" not to pursue charges.

"From the start, everyone involved in this difficult matter has been
in complete accord on the sanctity of human life, and we all remain
committed to continuing our work to support life from conception to
natural death," said Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, in a
statement.