Police: Man damaged Bloomington Planned Parenthood building, cited religious beliefs

Man cites abortion as reason for damage

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - A man told police his religious beliefs led him to break into and damage a Planned Parenthood facility in Monroe County using an ax early Thursday morning, officials said.

Bloomington police arrested Benjamin Curell, 27, of Ellettsville, on felony charges of burglary and criminal mischief.

Police were called to a report of a man trying to break into the building at 421 S. College Ave. just before 4 a.m.

When officers arrived, they said they found Curell in the building carrying an ax and that "extensive damage had been done to the building and office equipment with the ax," Bloomington police Capt. Joe Qualters said.

Red paint had also been splashed onto the building, police said.

Mike Diekhoff, chief of Bloomington police, said Curell didn't resist arrest and was taken into custody without incident.

"The suspect made statements indicating the facility was targeted due to abortions being performed there," Qualters said. "He stated his intent was to damage the building because they 'kill' and 'murder' babies. He attributed his actions to his religious beliefs."

Curell was being held at the Monroe County Jail on Thursday. Police said Curell doesn't have a previous arrest record.

Police estimated damage to the building in excess of $2,500, but they said that a complete inventory of damage was pending.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana President and CEO Betty Cockrum released a statement condemning the action.

"We are still determining the extent of the property damage, but we do know that the front door was destroyed and the front office and some office equipment were also heavily damaged," Cockrum said. "We are happy to say that it appears no confidential patient information was accessed by this vandal."

The organization said that the damage would not deter Planned Parenthood from carrying out its mission, which includes preventive care and other services, in addition to abortion.

"We did cancel appointments today, but we expect by the end of the day we'll have everything removed and replaced," said Liz Carroll, with Planned Parenthood.

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