UC Professor Pleads ‘No Contest’ to Attacking Pro-Life Demonstrators

Lauretta Brown | July 28, 2014 | 2:41pm EDT
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Mireille Miller-Young, assistant professor of Feminist Studies (Univ. of California/Santa Barbara)

(CNSNews.com) – Mireille Miller-Young, an assistant professor in the University of California/Santa Barbara’s Feminist Studies Department, pled “no contest” last Thursday to misdemeanor charges of theft, battery, and vandalism resulting from her March altercation with pro-life demonstrators on campus. She will be sentenced on August 14.

The altercation arose when Miller-Young grabbed a sign with photos of aborted babies from a group of pro-life activists led by 21-year-old Joan Short, claiming that she was “triggered” by the images.

The professor then pushed and scratched Joan’s sister, 16-year-old Thrin Short, who caught the incident on video. Miller-Young got away with the sign and later destroyed it in her office.

At the time Professor Miller-Young told police that she felt she had “a moral right” to steal the sign and that “she set a good example for her students” by encouraging them to help her.

Even after admitting to police that she took the sign, she entered a plea of "not guilty" on April 4th before changing her plea to "no contest" last week.

In an e-mail interview with CNSNews.com, the Short sisters said that while they were mostly satisfied with the plea, they would have liked to see the case go to trial.

“She is going to be sentenced on three misdemeanors, so, in that sense, justice is being done. But we do feel a little disappointed that, because there won’t be a trial, there will never be a full, public airing of what actually happened,” the sisters explained.

“So there will still be people who will think we did something to provoke her, or that pro-lifers in general are trying to cause trouble and make people react like this. Basically, there is still some feeling that 'those girls were asking for it' left hanging in the air, unrefuted,” they added.

Since the incident, the sisters say they have “received both hate mail and messages of support,” but “fortunately, a lot more support than hate.” They added that although they haven’t gone back to the UCSB campus to protest yet, they plan on doing so in the fall.

It is not known whether Miller-Young received any disciplinary action from UCSB as a result of the criminal charges, since the university has yet to comment on the case.

However, in a statement to CNSNews.com, George Foulsham, UCSB's director of news and media relations, said, “It is University policy not to discuss personnel matters. Professor Miller-Young is not currently teaching any courses and is not scheduled to teach any courses during the fall quarter. She is still employed by the University.”

Miller-Young’s areas of study include pornography and sex work. She was recently a panelist at the University of Toronto's Feminist Porn Conference. The event "brings together academics, students, cultural critics, sex workers, activists, fans, performers, directors, and producers to explore the intersections between feminism and pornography as well as feminist porn as a genre, industry, and movement."

The Short sisters said that they thought Miller-Young should have been disciplined by the university because “she set an incredibly bad example for her students, she involved students in the crimes she committed, and she has yet to indicate she is at all sorry. She may be parading around at UCSB as a feminist martyr, for all we know.”

“It is impossible to imagine a math professor who would still have his job if he not just committed crimes, but used students to help him to commit crimes,” they added.

When CNSNews.com asked the Short sisters what they thought would be an appropriate sentence for Miller-Young, they replied, “Whatever will undo the bad example she set for her students and for everyone who might be thinking of doing something like what she did, and whatever will teach her to keep her hands to herself (something she should have learned in kindergarten).”

“Today’s plea bring us one step closer to seeing justice done in this case,” Katie Short, the girls’ mother and legal director at the Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF), said in a statement. “Pro-life advocates should not be subjected to intimidation and violence for lawfully exercising their right to free speech, and we are happy to see that Ms. Miller-Young is being held accountable for her actions.”

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