Scuffle over cross at Knoxville abortion clinic ends in arrests

Scuffle over cross at Knoxville abortion clinic ends in arrests

Posted: Updated:
Rev. Fr. Richard G. Armstrong (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) Rev. Fr. Richard G. Armstrong (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)
William Robert Gogar (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) William Robert Gogar (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)

By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A priest and another man were arrested Thursday morning for allegedly scuffling with the director of an abortion facility over a cross placed in the ground.

While protestors were outside Volunteer Women's Medical Clinic, 313 Concord Street, Rev. Fr. Richard G. Armstrong, 39, of Knoxville, placed a cross in a grassy area on what was allegedly believed to be public property. However, the property belongs to the facility.

A few minutes later, clinic owner and Director Deborah Walsh, 58, came out of the building, showed the protestors that she had a federal injunction against protestors on the property and removed the cross.

Then William Robert Gogar, 52, of Knoxville, drove up in a pickup truck, got out and, according to Walsh, used the cross to push her to the ground.

Gogar also allegedly grabbed her arm and pushed her to the ground a second time.

Walsh had a visible scrape on her right leg and scratches on her elbow.

Gogar was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and assault.

Armstrong, who is the assistant director of the Diocese of Knoxville's Christian Formation Office, is charged with criminal trespassing.

A statement from the diocese says: "Fr. Armstrong is not a Roman Catholic priest, but a priest of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. He is affiliated with the Eparchy of Parma, Ohio. He is employed by the Diocese of Knoxville to perform some duties. His activities on Thursday, however, were not as an employee of the Diocese, but as a Ukrainian Catholic priest."

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