UC Santa Barbara associate professor Dr. Mireille Miller-Young was sentenced Friday to three years of probation, 108 hours of community service, and 10 hours of anger management classes after pleading no contest to theft and battery charges that arose out of a heated encounter with anti-abortion protesters on campus last March. She was also ordered to pay a small fine and $500 of restitution.
During the March 4 incident, Miller-Young confronted members of the Christian group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust and forcibly stole one of the demonstrator’s signs, which was later found destroyed. Some of the incident was caught on camera. Miller-Young, who is pregnant, initially defended her actions and said she was “triggered” by the signs’ graphic imagery of aborted fetuses. She initially pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges but later issued a written apology and entered no contest pleas in July. A number of letters of support were submitted to Judge Brian Hill before Friday’s sentencing hearing.
Leila J. Rupp, a professor of feminist studies and UCSB’s associate dean of social sciences, described Miller-Young as a “warm, smart, dedicated teacher and scholar who works passionately in all areas of her life to make the world a better place.” She said the “unfortunate incident” and the “sharply critical coverage in The Santa Barbara News-Press has created a public image of Mireille that is wholly inaccurate.” Other letters said Miller-Young is “instinctively kind” and with “impeccable character.” Professor Eileen Boris wrote of the video footage: “If she appears smiling on camera, she is ‘wearing the mask,’ that is, she is hiding her actual state through a strategy of self-presentation that is a cultural legacy of slavery.”
Thrin and Joan Short, members of the Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust group that was protesting on campus March 4, were present for Miller-Young’s Friday sentencing. They were accompanied by their mother, Katie Short, Life Legal Defense Foundation legal director, who issued a statement after the hearing:
“While Miller-Young submitted a written apology to the court for taking and destroying the sign, the sincerity of that apology is undercut by other letters she submitted from colleagues, several of which attempt to shift the blame onto the pro-lifers,” she said. “Regardless of the actual level of her remorse, her conviction on three misdemeanor charges will undoubtedly be sufficient to dissuade her from any repetition of her outrageous conduct. … We hope that anyone else who might consider violence or vandalism against pro-life advocates will take note.”