Driver charged with swerving at abortion clinic protester pleads to reduced charge
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporter August 20, 2013 7:52PM
Updated: September 22, 2013 6:29AM
A driver charged with veering his SUV toward a protester outside an Aurora Planned Parenthood clinic pleaded guilty to a reduced traffic offense after DuPage County prosecutors acknowledged that security cameras didn’t show a swerve.
Prosecutors originally charged Naperville resident Michael Fabian with misdemeanor aggravated assault after the Feb. 16 incident at the clinic, which has been a focus of protests by anti-abortion groups.
In the criminal complaint filed last March, prosecutors alleged that Fabian swerved at a 16-year-old female protester, “nearly striking her.”
Aurora Police earlier had investigated the reported confrontation but declined to file criminal charges, noting in a final report that security cameras showed Fabian “appeared to drive in a straight, non-aggressive manner.”
As part of a deal with prosecutors, on Tuesday, Fabian, 25, pleaded guilty only to a traffic offense — improper lane use — for making a wide turn as he left the clinic.
DuPage County Judge Anthony Coco placed Fabian on three months of court supervision and ordered him to pay $180 in costs.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin defended the decision to charge Fabian, citing statements from six other protesters who said they saw the SUV veer toward the teenager.
But prosecutors agreed to reduce the aggravated assault charged after concluding that video shot by four security cameras didn’t prove Fabian drove toward the teen.
“We didn’t have the right angle to show the swerve,” Berlin said.
Fabian declined to comment, but his attorney said it was clear the Naperville man never endangered the teen.
“Videotapes at that business showed my client never steered his car at anyone,” defense attorney Richard Kayne said.
“There was never anybody put in danger, ever,” Kayne added.
A demonstrator who witnessed the incident said Tuesday that he remains convinced that the SUV veered directly toward the teen, who like other protesters was from the Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights.
“I know what I saw. I have no doubts there was a swerve,” said David Bergquist, the academy’s director of security.