Red Roses Mean Love: Jury Convicts Priest and Two Others for New York ‘Red Rose Rescue’
Father Fidelis Moscinski, Laura Gies and John Hinshaw will be sentenced April 17 after being convicted Friday of trespassing and ‘obstructing government administration’ during their pro-life efforts.
“I was intervening in a life and death situation to prevent the butchering of children by abortion.” —Father Fidelis Moscinski
These were the powerfully moving words of a Catholic priest who boldly testified Friday at the Nassau County Court House in Mineola, New York, during the second day of a Red Rose Rescue trial.
Pro-life supporters gathered on the third floor outside the courthouse, along with defendants Laura Gies, John Hinshaw, Father Fidelis Moscinski — a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal — and their two attorneys, awaiting a verdict. Thousands of pro-lifers across the country had been praying for their exoneration.
They had been charged with criminal trespass for an April 2021 “rescue” at a Long Island, New York, abortion facility.
Along with a fourth person, Matthew Connolly, the pro-life “Red Rose Rescue” took place at All Women’s Care in Manhasset, New York.
A “Red Rose Rescue” involves bringing red roses into an abortion center, and presenting one to each woman sitting in the waiting room for an abortion. They speak to the women and tell them that help is available for free nearby.
The three were found guilty of “trespass violation” as well as “obstructing government administration” in the second degree. A sentencing date of April 17 was set, at which time they could each receive up to one year in jail.
Charges against Mathew Connolly had been dropped two days earlier, with the judge stating that the prosecution hadn’t shown that Connolly was on abortion center property when he was found singing hymns in a bathroom on the first floor of the building.
Bail or Custody
The prosecuting attorney then asked for the “convicted” to be remanded to jail pending the sentencing hearing.
Judge Maroney asked the defense attorneys to respond.
Defense attorney Elio Forcina, speaking for his client Laura Gies, explained that she is a grandmother and a peaceful person who has never missed a court hearing.
“These are not criminals,” he stated. “They are part of a cause, members of the prolife movement. They respect the court and their country, and it’s entirely absurd to say they pose a ‘flight risk.’ There is no proof of that at all.”
On behalf of Hinshaw and Father Fidelis, attorney Joseph Soffey noted that the defendants had appeared for all court hearings. He also pointed out that John had six children and lived within the court’s jurisdiction, while Father Fidelis is a Franciscan friar who serves the poor in New York City.
“Flight risk is not a possibility to seriously consider with these good men,” Soffey explained.
Judge Moroney noted that the rescuers attended each hearing and trial day in a timely manner and that there were no outstanding warrants. She denied the hopes of the prosecution that the rescuers be taken away in chains.
‘We Did What We Came Here to Do’
After the disappointing verdict, Father Fidelis spoke to a small crowd of supporters who had been present in the courtroom. “Don’t be sad. This is not a defeat.” He explained that we are called to bear witness to the truth, and the trial is a continuation of the rescue.
“We did what we came here to do — namely, give testimony to the truth that innocent babies are killed by abortion and they must be protected.”
He said a brief prayer for everyone gathered near the courthouse steps and imparted his priestly blessing.
“All of us are extremely grateful for the support and prayers of our pro-life friends,” said rescuer John Hinshaw. “We did everything we could to protect the babies, and then tried to be their voice before our government."
“This trial was unfair from the very start at jury selection when the judge denied any mention of the horrible injustices of abortion,” said Dr. Monica Miller, a founder of Red Rose Rescue, “but our rescuers and their attorneys did an amazing job to make sure the innocent victims of abortion on Long Island would not be forgotten.”
Bearing Testimony to Life
Three rescuers went to the stand during hearings for this case, and each testified strongly to the inalienable right to life and the horrors of abortion slaughter.
During testimony, a video from the abortion mill was admitted as evidence by prosecutors.
The court was shown a video of a very calm and peaceful Franciscan priest who was seated in a chair with roses in his hand. He patiently explained to law enforcement that he was there to hand out roses and alternatives to abortion (i.e., pregnancy help flyers) and the sentence, “You were made to love, and to be loved.” One of the officers is heard in the video raising his voice and threatening Father Fidelis with arrest. The Catholic priest quietly explained that he was there not to trespass, but to follow a higher law of justice. He acknowledged the right to private property, but said that this was subordinated to the right to life “in the hierarchy of human rights.” Laura can be heard saying calmly to the pregnant mothers, “We can help you.”
Then turning to the abortion center staff, this courageous grandmother spoke out: “Do not kill the child. Help it. Do you realize what you are doing? Making money off of women in crisis. Abortion destroys a child and scars a woman for life. Don’t be a part of destroying life and women.”
The courtroom heard another part of the video where Laura gave a Christian witness to the abortion employees: “Money is the factor. You need to repent and turn from killing. Your Heavenly Father doesn’t want you to do this.”
As she sat on the floor with roses in her lap, Laura could also be heard speaking boldly to the police officers who were unjustly arresting her: “Help the babies! Their arms are being torn off. Cops should not be a part of it. You should prevent them from getting their limbs taken off.”
Cross-Examination of Police Officer
During cross-examination, defense attorney Forcina, asked numerous questions of a police officer who was there on the day of the Red Rose Rescue. The judge would not allow these questions to be answered, but the jurors heard the questions:
- “Do you know what happens at this building [abortion mill]?”
- “Do you know they murder babies there?”
- “Do you know what a sidewalk counselor is?”
- “Have you ever tried to save a life?”
- “Have you ever arrested anyone in a store?”
- “What does your statement mean, ‘to protest abortion?’”
- “Did anyone say the defendants were there to help women?”
- “Was this place an abortion center?”
- “Did you see any roses?”
After the prosecution rested its case with their last witness, the jury was recessed so that the attorneys could present arguments to the judge.
The first pro-life witness to take the stand was Laura Gies. Laura explained that she had six children and one baby in heaven from miscarriage. Wearing a dress with red roses on it, the soft spoken woman also related how she is now a new grandmother of a little baby who is 20 weeks old in the womb.
“I was so excited when I was able to hear the little baby’s heartbeat!” she said.
Laura was asked what she does when she goes to an abortion center. “I meet pregnant women where they are at, during a very hard moment, with love, roses and help.”
She told the jury that she has been doing this work for 33 years. She was asked if she is paid and replied No. Explaining her motivation, she shared, “I witnessed the sorrow of those women suffering after an abortion. It broke my heart. I want to help these moms to avoid that pain.
Laura told the assistant district attorney that “helpless children were in danger,” so she “went inside.”
When asked why she had to be carried out, this pro-life witness said, “Because the bodies of the babies killed by abortion must also be carried out.”
Forcina asked if these efforts have been successful and Laura answered, “Yes!” She joyfully stated that she’d been able to “hold four different babies in my arms who were saved from abortion.”
One story the jury heard was that one day while sidewalk counseling, Laura called out to a young teenage mother at an abortion center at the last moment and said, “No problem is so great that a child must die.”
The pregnant teen then spoke with Laura and left the facility! Later the young mother and her own mother — the preborn baby’s grandmother — all expressed gratitude for Laura’s intervention that day.
In response to why she brought flowers that day to that abortion facility, Laura simply said, “Why a rose? It is a sign of love and hope … a gift to mom to congratulate her and show her that she’s precious and beautiful.”
When asked by defense counsel what was occurring at this “office,” and why she is against abortion, the judge wouldn’t allow an answer and said to the attorney, “Move along.”
During cross-examination, the young female prosecutor badgered Laura and seemingly tried to rattle her, but was unsuccessful.
Father Fidelis Moscinski
The second to take the stand was Father Fidelis Moscinski.
Responding to defense counsel, he explained that he is a Catholic priest with several degrees — a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Divinity, and two other advanced degrees in canon law and moral theology.
Despite repeated objections, quick questions by attorney Forcina continued.
“Do you believe abortion is evil?”
“It is one of the greatest of evils,” answered Father Fidelis.
“Do you think it is inhumane?”
“Is it morally offensive?”
“What was your purpose for going to this facility?”
“I was intervening in a life and death situation to prevent the butchering of children by abortion.”
Although there had been many objections prior to this point, when Father Fidelis made this particular statement, the prosecutor loudly yelled “Objection!” In response to the objection, the judge turned to Father Fidelis and admonished him, saying, “Do not use that terminology in the courtroom.”
“What was your plan?” Forcina continued.
“I wanted to talk to people … talk to women planning abortion to persuade them not to, and offer them alternatives and aid. Everything we did was calm and peaceful.”
“Why not leave?”
“I believe the Lord wanted me to stay.”
“Why not cooperate with the police?”
“I try to cooperate with police, unless they exceed their authority.”
“What did you do?”
“Lives were at risk. I was there to protect children.”
“So this was your purpose?”
“My purpose was intervening in a life-or-death situation to prevent the butchering of children by abortion.”
“Have you been successful in such efforts?”
Cross-Examination of Father Fidelis
During the cross-examination, the assistant district attorney emphasized that she believed Father Fidelis had no right to be at the abortion facility because he is “a man.”
After numerous questions, the prosecutor said regarding his presence at the mill, “No permission was given to you to be there?”
He responded, “Just as they don't have permission to butcher children.”
“Did you leave?”
“I did not leave. I would walk out if the staff butchering children walked out.”
On re-direct, Father was asked what his plan was the day of the rescue.
“The plan was simple. Four of us would go inside where children were butchered by abortion so to talk to mothers so that they wouldn’t do that to their babies.”
Also on re-direct, Soffey asked Father Fidelis if his “reaction that day was all, or in part, due to little children being harmed.”
Judge Moroney did not permit an answer.
The final pro-life witness was John Hinshaw, a father and grandfather from Long Island.
When asked by defense counsel about his education, John explained that he had a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. John’s University. He also told the jury that his education enabled him to work as a case manager and counselor assisting patients at a mental health facility and at a separate mental health clinic.
When asked about the purpose of his involvement with a Red Rose Rescue, John replied, “To save lives.”
Hinshaw in his testimony said he was present that day “at an abortion mill,” and that he strongly objected to the characterization of this place being called a “medical facility.”
John told the jury about how he entered the abortion mill freely — there were no signs saying “do not enter.” No one asked him at the door why he was there, and he went in and just sat down.
Defense counsel asked, “Did you leave the abortion mill?”
“When asked by the police if I was going to leave,” Hinshaw related, “I asked them, ‘Are you going to do your job and protect innocent life?’ They said ‘No,’ so I said I’d stay to do their job — a job I was trained to do.”
Despite incessant objections, this rescuer detailed his professional training:
As a mental health counselor I did similar work. If someone was threatening suicide, I had an obligation to stay with them. On April 24, I felt I couldn’t leave the endangered children, I must stay. I am a father of six and a grandfather of two. I could not leave them [the unborn] there alone with the instruments being used to hurt them.
When asked by Forcina about sidewalk counseling, John shared that this work was about “someone being at the abortuary doors to offer information to women who are not told by the abortion mill about any other plans than abortion.”
Hinshaw noted that he had been doing this work since 1975.
Defense counsel asked, “What do pro-abortion people say to you when you want to offer help to unborn babies?”
John responded, “They try to silence us all the time.”
Just then the prosecutor objected, and like clockwork the judge replied, “Sustained and stricken.”
Hinshaw sighed and retorted to the jury, “They silence us more now than in other times.”
Cross-Examination of Hinshaw
At cross-examination, the prosecutor wanted to know “the plans.”
“The plan was to go and give help and save lives,” John said plainly.
“So you ‘sidewalk counsel’ behind closed doors?”
“The doors were wide open. We get as close as we can. It’s the very last chance. I walked in with police. And I talked to the women.”
“But you weren't supposed to be there, right?”
“‘Not supposed to?’ We were ‘supposed’ to be there to save lives.”
“But you didn't leave?”
“This is what I said. I said, ‘If there are no more abortions, I’d leave.’ There was no obstruction. I sat there for a long time.”
“Yet the police said to leave?”
“I asked them if they’d fulfill their obligations to do their job and protect innocent lives.”
“So you didn't leave when they told you to? Give a simple answer.”
“I didn’t leave. I couldn’t. That’s my simple answer. I knelt down. I wasn’t obstructing.”
The Trial Ends
When all of the questioning ended, the defense rested their case and the jury was dismissed.
We now know that, in spite of the powerful beautiful witness to the sanctity of life and God’s plan for humanity, the prosecutor in this case convinced the jury that the only issue involved was trespassing. Terms such as “abortion center,” “sidewalk counselor” and “saving lives” were not permitted. Terms like “medical center,” “protestors,” and “people interfering with medical procedures” ruled the day.
Yet hope and prayers remain that some pro-life truths, along with the sincerity and holiness of these four courageous people, planted a seed in the jurors’ minds.