IFAS | Freedom Writer | February 1995 | abuse.html

'Prolife' activist arrested
on battering charges

By Tom Burghardt

Steven M. Butler, 32, a long-time activist with Operation Rescue of California, was arrested in Livermore on December 8 and charged with beating his wife during an argument over housecleaning.

Butler's wife, Cherie, told Livermore police her husband had kicked her in the back of the head and then tossed a metal chair at her. The chair missed and instead struck the couple's 18-month-old daughter, according to court records. Police stated neither Cherie Butler nor the child required medical treatment.

Butler was arraigned December 9 in Pleasanton Municipal Court. He is charged with one count of inflicting corporal punishment on a spouse. Judge Hugh Walker set bail at $25,000.

Cherie Butler told police her husband beat and kicked her at their East Airway Boulevard home in Livermore, Thursday, December 8. She said he became enraged because she hadn't "properly" cleaned the house.

When arrested, Butler ordered his wife and child from their home and declared he was replacing the locks to the front gate and front door.

Court records also show that Cherie Butler told police her husband threatened to kill her if she told anyone about this egregious incident of domestic violence. Steven Butler denied the charges.

Butler, a prominent activist with Operation Rescue of California, has been arrested on multiple occasions for violent clinic blockades and invasions organized by the group.

He has blockaded clinics and targeted health-care providers at their homes in Bakersfield, Livermore, Concord, Oakland, San Mateo, and San Francisco. Butler, an organizer of "no place to hide" residential pickets, regularly targets Bay Area abortion providers.

In December 1990, during a clinic blockade at Women's Choice Medical Clinic in Oakland, Butler attempted to break the leg of clinic defender Laura Weide.

"We had formed a defense line when OR's goon squad arrived," said Weide. "My leg was wrapped around a fence post when Butler grabbed me. He began to twist my leg and wouldn't let go. He kept shouting at me, calling me a 'baby-killer and a 'bitch.' He was enraged, out of control. It was obvious he intended to hurt me. He seemed to enjoy it."

Oakland police on the site did nothing. Only forceful intervention by other clinic defenders prevented Butler from seriously injuring Weide.

Weide, an organizer with the Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights (BACORR), said, "This violent assault on Cherie Butler and their child comes as no surprise. Steven Butler has a history of violence against women and health-care workers. It's disgusting, part of a pattern of intimidation and terror."

BACORR activist Sharon Fleming declared, "Steve Butler comes from a long line of women-hating thugs who flock to groups like Operation Rescue. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he'd do something as low as this. While Operation Rescue claims they want to save babies, violence like this only proves they really want to control women's lives."

"'Family values' my ass!" Fleming declared. "Ask Cherie Butler what kind of 'family values' led a batterer to kick his partner and then to throw a metal chair that hits an 18-month-old baby. He's scum!"

Tom Burghardt is a BACORR activist based in San Francisco.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.