Fox Commenter Arrested For Threats Against Planned Parenthood Partner

Stacie Freudenberg/AP

A Washington state man accused of posting threats on Fox Nation against employees of a Planned Parenthood partner in California was arrested by federal authorities last week, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Scott Anthony Orton posted comments vowing to pay anyone willing to kill employees for StemExpress, according to the criminal complaint from the FBI. StemExpress is a biotech firm that came under scrutiny for its work with Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program and was a target of anti-abortion “sting” videos.

The comments Orton allegedly wrote called one particular StemExpress officer a “death-profiteer” who should be “hung by the neck using piano wire and propped on the lawn in front of the building with a note attached.”

The complaint alleges that the 57-year-old Orton, who lives in Puyallup, Washington, made interstate threats, as Stem Express and the unnamed employee are based in California. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

After his arrest by a deputy U.S. marshal last Tuesday, Orton was released by the federal magistrate on an unsecured appearance bond, the Sacramento Bee reported, even though the government had requested he be held without bail.

An affidavit in the case by FBI agent David Rubel said the FBI received a tip about the comments that had been made by Fox Nation user “Joseywhales” in July, soon after the initial videos were released.

With Fox News’ cooperation, Rubel was able to link the account to Orton through his IP address and the information provided to create the Fox Nation account, according to the court documents. Agents visited Orton last month and Orton confirmed creating the account, Rubel’s affidavit said. Orton told the agents that he was a former professional copywriter, allowing him to use “words that have a lot of meaning” and that he wrote the comments “so they would cut like a knife,” according to the documents. He traced the piano wire line specifically to something he had seen in a documentary about Hitler, the affidavit said.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Orton’s alleged username may have been inspired by the 1976 film The Outlaw Josey Wales, starring Clint Eastwood, about a pro-Confederate Civil War outlaw.

The court documents also connected Orton to previous threats made against the Puyallup City Council, a local newspaper and other Fox Nation users. Orton allegedly referenced Rubel in his Fox Nation comments as well.

As Jezebel pointed out, the National Abortion Federation had been aware of the comments “Joseywhales” was posting and referenced one of the threats specifically in a suit against the anti-abortion activists behind the videos.

Planned Parenthood has denied the accusations made by the videos, which claim that the health care organization was illegally profiting off of the sale of fetal tissue. StemExpress — a middle-man broker in the fetal tissue donation programs that have since come under scrutiny — was oft-mentioned by the Planned Parenthood officials secretly recorded in the campaign and a former StemExpress employee participated in one of the videos. StemExpress has since cut ties with Planned Parenthood.

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