Twenty-two protesters arrested for blocking work on the controversial Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Lancaster County on Oct. 16 entered various pleas during a preliminary hearing Monday before a district justice in Columbia.
Seven of the protesters pleaded not guilty to the charge of defiant criminal trespass and told District Justice Miles Bixler they plan to go to trial.
Thirteen pleaded no contest to the charges and were each ordered to pay a $100 fine and perform 10 hours of community service.
Two pleaded guilty so they can enter the state’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first-time offenders. The program includes fees and community service in exchange for the charges being dropped on completion of the program.
One juvenile also arrested that day is being processed through the juvenile court.
Each of the 22, all associated with Lancaster Against Pipelines, made their own decision on how to plead to the charge, said member Malinda Clatterbuck.
She pleaded not guilty and is prepared to go to trial.
"I want to draw attention to injustices in our system," Clatterbuck, 47, said after the hearing. "I think I should be found not guilty."
The defendants were represented by defense attorney Hobie Crystle. In a statement to Bixler, he said they chose to protest what they consider the misapplication of eminent domain, the harmful effects of the pipeline on the environment and work done by people not from Lancaster County.
"That's the reason they're here. That's the reason they were arrested. That's the reason they're protesting," Crystle said.
The prosecution said that while the defendants have a right to an opinion, they were on land they were not allowed to be on.
"This is not about a pipeline," said Assistant District Attorney Andrew LeFever. "At this point, why they were there doesn't really matter."
Bixler told the defendants the maximum penalty could be up to one year in prison and fines of up to $2,500.
Malinda Clatterbuck gives a statement from Lancaster Against Pipelines pic.twitter.com/B8VoLc80Y8— Lindsey Blest (@LindseyBlestLNP) December 4, 2017
The 22 adults whose preliminary hearings were held today were arrested where the pipeline is being built on property owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.
The civil disobedience protests were nonviolent and no property damage occurred, officials said.
The Roman Catholic order in West Hempfield Township has sued the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in federal court to try to stop the pipeline. A federal court ruled against the nuns but an appeal is still pending in a federal appeals court.
See drone video of Atlantic Sunrise pipeline construction in Lancaster County:
Drone video by One Voice Media
A preliminary hearing is still pending for 13 adults and one juvenile arrested in another protest on the nuns’ property in October and in two other organized protests in separate pipeline work sites in Martic Township in November.
• Those pleading guilty were:
- Julie Broich, 37, of Lancaster
- Robin Lason, 55, of Lititz
• Those pleading not guilty were:
- Malinda Clatterbuck, 47, of Holtwood
- Ann Devitry, 58, of Columbia
- Elizabeth Lucabaugh, 55, of Glen Rock
- Barbara Vanhorn, 86, of Duncannon
- Anthony Provenzano, 51, of West Virginia
- Darrell Yoder, 60, of Lancaster
- Elam Zook, 54, of Lancaster
• Those pleading no contest were:
- Diana Delucca, 63, of Millersville
- James Ebaugh, 64, of Glen Rock
- Christine Elliott, 66, of Massachusetts
- Donald Gallagher Jr., 70, of Lititz
- Patrick Gantert, 23, of Lancaster
- Peter Kerekgyarto, 70, of Lancaster
- Lucy Latham, 58, of Lancaster
- Susan Lithgoe, 67, of Lancaster
- Rachel Mark, 71, of Hummelstown
- Jerry Miller, 69, of Lancaster
- Anne Sensenig, 56, of Lancaster
- Paul Yatabe, 67, of Lancaster
- Andrea Ferich, 37, of Spring Mills, was not present in court but plans to appear Wednesday, Crystle said.
In addition, a 16-year-old juvenile who was arrested will be processed through county juvenile court.
After the hearings, which took place in three groups, Lancaster Against Pipelines members cheered for the seven who pleaded not guilty as they exited Bixler's Columbia office.
"(Our) only crime is protecting our home county with our bodies, our voices and our unified courage," Clatterbuck said to the crowd of defendants, other supporters and members of the media.
"Standing up for justice in our local communities is at the core of the values that bind us together," she said.
Lancaster Against Pipelines has a legal defense fund which has raised over $8,600, according to an online fundraising website.
In the wake of the four protests that have resulted in 37 arrests to date, state Sen. Scott Martin of Martic Township continues to push for a bill he introduced last summer to recoup emergency response costs from such protests.
The bill would allow courts to order that those convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense related to a public protest pay for police, fire and emergency medical costs associated with the event.
The bill was referred to the Senate State Government Committee and has not been brought up for a vote.
Martin has said he is collecting data for the committee on the recent arrests with information on how many police have responded and how much time they have had to spend handling the protests.