Harrisburg, Pa., Jun 18, 2019 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- State Rep. Brian Sims is facing possible censure in the Pennsylvania legislature following his harassment and attempts to dox women and minors outside a Philadelphia abortion clinic last month.
In videos posted on social media May 2, Sims offered money to his followers if they would publish the names and addresses of pro-life demonstrators, including two women and several high school-age students. One of the demonstrators, Ashley Garecht of Lower Merion Township, travelled to Harrisburg June 17 to encourage state legislators to back the censure.
“It’s unclear to me why any member of this body would be hesitant to sign on to the resolution,” said Garecht, who can be seen with her daughters being harassed by Sims in one of his videos.
Garecht told local media that she thinks the incident highlights Sims’ abuse of power as much as his intolerance for pro-life speech.
“What happened to us was about an elected state representative who declared in his own video to be an elected state representative harassing and intimidating citizens out of their First Amendment rights–and three of those were minors. Then he took it a step further by offering money to expose their identities on the internet.”
So far, 36 lawmakers have supported the resolution, out of the 201 members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Carbon/Schuylkill) filed the resolution in early June. Knowles is seeking to remove Sims from the four committees he belongs to, as well as prevent him from being appointed to any additional committees or positions until the end of his term. Sims’ term expires Nov. 30, 2020.
“It should be noted that Representative Sims also used his elected position to intimidate the individuals with whom he was interacting, clearly stating on the videos that he was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives,” said the memorandum issued by Knowles that was sent to other members of the Pennsylvania House.
In the videos, Sims referred to one woman as an “old white lady,” and in another, he targeted three teenage girls accompanied by Garecht.
Sims has not yet publicly apologized for attempting to dox the pro-lifers, but he did publish a video where he pledged to “do better for the women of Pennsylvania.”
Following outcry against Sims’ actions, a pro-life rally was held outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia on May 10, where Sims is a volunteer patient escort.
In the 2014 case McCullen v. Coakley the Supreme Court unanimously found “buffer zones” around abortion clinics, limiting the space where a person can either pray or protest, to be unconstitutional.
Garecht said she has forgiven Sims for his doxing threat and harassing comments, and that she and her family continue to pray for them. She may pursue some sort of civil action suit against Sims.
“This isn’t about a vendetta for me as a mother,” said Garecht. “This is about standing up specifically for my daughters to hold the person who attacked them to account.”