Authorities raid Orlando abortion clinic



ORLANDO, Fla. - Channel 9 has learned details surrounding a raid at an abortion clinic in Orlando on Thursday.

The clinic is called the Orlando Women's Center and it's located at Lucerne Terrace in downtown Orlando.

Dr. James Pendergraft said Thursday's raid was tied to a 2001 lawsuit where a patient, mid-abortion, left the facility and later gave birth to a child with cerebral palsy.

WFTV found out that Pendergraft was found guilty of medical malpractice and his license had been suspended.

That case went to court and a $38 million judgment was decided in 2011.

But the clinic has only paid $100,000 of that settlement. Pendergraft said the raid is the result of that.

Pendergraft said he got the notice agents would be seizing property Monday.

He said the agents were taking whatever they could to help settle the suit after collections agents could not get money from them.

Pendergraft said the assets were not his, but rather in a trust.

Crews pulled out everything from office furniture to patient exam beds from the Orlando Women's Center Thursday, filling two moving trucks with medical equipment.

"The sheriff department is following the orders of the judge that had this done on Monday, but what makes this illegal is that it's not mine or that of Orlando Women's Center," said Pendergraft.

Pendergraft said as a result of the raid, his patients are being sent elsewhere.

The clinic has been in the news before. It's controversial because it's one of the only clinics in the area that offers late-term abortions and has offered coupons for abortion discounts in the past.

WFTV checked Department of Health records and learned that Pendergraft has lost his license five times, as recently as April of this year.

Records show he was once forced to pay a $10,000 fine and more than $80,000 in legal fees to the Department of Health after charging a patient $12,000 for a dangerous late-term abortion.

Pendergraft told WFTV the raid is not connected to anything other than the lawsuit.

Evangelist Jon Barros and other activists who said they pray outside the clinic every day said they don't care who owns the equipment, as long as it's no longer being used.

"This is a wonderful day, no babies are dying here today and it's closing down," said Barros.

Barros said he's come to the clinic every day for the last three years, offering girls "help and hope."

Other activists gathered as the clinic was raided, basking in what they call a win.

"I don't believe he's going to recover from this because I don't know how he would get other assets. They'd just come and take that. There's not $36 million in there," Barros said.

Pendergraft said his attorneys are working to get the equipment back.