Disorderly conduct and assault charges against an anti-abortion protester accused of harassing an 82-year-old volunteer at the Women’s Health Center in Charleston were dismissed, according to an order filed Wednesday in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.
Christopher McComas, 51, of St. Albans, was charged with assaulting Marilyn McGeorge after quickly approaching her to get to his cooler that was behind her. She was wearing headphones and didn’t realize that was what he was trying to do, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court.
McComas is much larger than McGeorge, who told authorities she feared for her safety when she saw him coming close to her, the complaint said.
However, this doesn’t fit the state’s definition of disorderly conduct and assault and the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office sought to have the case dismissed.
“After careful review of the report, the surveillance video provided and consultation with the victim, the state cannot prove the required elements of the crimes charged,” the judgment order stated.
Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Miller said McComas couldn’t be charged with assault if there wasn’t proof the act was intentional.
“She’s a slight woman and he’s a very big fella and when he came toward her she felt frightened, and certainly legitimately so,” Miller said. “But when you have to prove the assault it has to be an intentional act to put someone in fear, and we couldn’t do that. It seemed to be more of a misunderstanding.”
McGeorge told an assistant prosecuting attorney she is planning on getting a protective order.
McComas was also charged for disorderly conduct for yelling in a “boisterous tone” in the direction of the clinic and the volunteers.
However, in cases of disorderly conduct someone needs to be told by law enforcement to stop and then refuse. Miller said this did happen, but he has been warned in previous instances.
Miller said it may be possible there were city ordinances McComas was in violation of, but the prosecuting attorneys office is required to abide by the state’s laws.