BOISE, Idaho — Attorneys for St. Luke's Health System have filed a motion for contempt against Diego Rodriguez and his Freedom Man Press over continued harassment of witnesses in St. Luke's defamation case against him, Ammon Bundy and their organizations. Erik Stidham, an attorney representing the hospital, said St. Luke's is very concerned about the prospect of violence from Rodriguez, Bundy and their followers.
"Mr. Bundy is running a cynical grift and playing with the safety of his targets and his followers. St. Luke’s is concerned that at some point Mr. Bundy’s grift is going to get somebody killed. It won’t be Mr. Bundy. He will be safe somewhere," Stidham told KTVB on Wednesday. "The ones who will suffer the violent consequences will likely be his followers who think they are on a religious mission, his enemies who are wrongly targeted, and the police officers who are just trying to protect and serve."
The motion for contempt against Rodriguez was filed on Tuesday, May 2, and claims that Rodriguez has, "never stopped using his website to defame, harass, and intimidate witnesses." The continuing legal action stems from a defamation lawsuit that followed disruptive protests outside St. Luke's in downtown Boise and, what the hospital claims, continued harassment and doxing of its employees.
As KTVB previously reported, Bundy, Rodriguez, and their organizations organized days of protests at the hospital. They claimed Rodriguez' infant grandson was "medically kidnapped" by doctors and Child Protective Services (CPS). The "Baby Cyrus" protests led to the hospital having to go into lockdown for nearly two hours on March 15, 2022. The hospital had to divert patients to other providers and prohibit visitors.
Attorneys for St. Luke's also claim that Rodriguez is currently violating five different court orders -- however, they are only asking for contempt sanctions regarding two fee orders and the protective order that was issued. The protective order was to stop his harassment of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit -- according to them, it hasn't stopped.
According to affidavits filed Tuesday, including by the President and CEO of St. Luke's Chris Roth, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Child Welfare Chief Kristen Nate, St. Luke's Dr. Natasha Erickson, social worker Kelly Shoplock and nurse Tracy Jungman, Rodriguez has continually harassed, doxed and threatened them. Their statements claim that Rodriguez has also called them names like "pedophile", "child trafficker", "child molester" and more. Many of the plaintiffs involved in the suit said that they do not feel safe.
"The doxing and false accusations by Rodriguez of and about me have impacted my ability to do my job by causing distrust by clients, parents, and/or guardians I work with," Shoplock stated in her affidavit.
She added that the specific accusation that she is a "child trafficker" continues to be something she deals with.
Nurse Practitioner Jungman stated that Rodriguez falsely claims that she committed malpractice and that his doxing and false accusations are harassing and troubling.
"To my understanding, Rodriguez has done nothing since the protective order was put in place to eliminate the false statements regarding me and other witnesses in this lawsuit," Jungman stated in her affidavit.
Dr. Erickson wrote that she learned she was being targeted by Rodriguez, Bundy, Freedom Man Press and Bundy's People's Rights Network (PRN) in March 2022. They also claimed she was a kidnapper.
"I understand that the website www.freedomman.org posts my photo with the title, 'CPS Referrer and Destroyer of Families: Dr. Natasha Erickson,' then goes on to imply I abused the Infant’s family and other families, stating, 'Imagine how many other families she has abused in her years of work at St. Luke’s?' This is false. I always provide medical care in the best interest of the child. I did not refer the Infant or the Infant’s parents to CPS," Erickson stated.
Both the CEO of St. Luke's and the Child Welfare Chief stated that, even after the state entered the protective order, Rodriguez has kept false statements up on his website about them.
Two other affidavits from specialists were also part of the motion that was filed Tuesday -- Devin Burghart, the president and executive director of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR) and former Boise police captain Spencer Fomby stated that Rodriguez, Bundy and their followers are dangerous.
Burghart said that his organization has been following the People's Rights Network since 2020. He claims it has over 60,000 followers and Rodriguez is a recognized leader within the organization.
"It is my opinion that Rodriguez will be emboldened to even worse conduct and further threaten the safety of Plaintiffs and their families (and others) - if he is not held accountable for their actions and forced to stop harassing, intimidating, threatening, and doxing Plaintiffs. If Rodriguez is allowed to continue to disregard the legal system and laws, to flout orders of the Court, and target the Plaintiffs and witnesses in this lawsuit, without meaningful consequences, the potential consequences for Plaintiffs and others are significant," Burghart stated.
Fomby, who was a police officer for 22 years, stated that, in his opinion, extremist groups like the PRN have a playbook and it involves the intentional use of misinformation.
"Rodriguez will continue to use intentional disinformation and misinformation and doxing unless there are real consequences for his behavior. These personal attacks create a serious life-threatening danger to the targets," Fomby stated in his affidavit.
Stidham said that if the judge determines there is a cause to determine Rodriguez is in contempt of her orders and he refuses to appear again, the judge can issue a warrant of attachment - which is a civil arrest warrant, similar to what happened with Bundy on April 19. This is where the civil case crosses the line into a criminal issue.
"Bundy created PRN to be his on-demand militia and online intimidators. He continues to use them as his pawns. He feeds them misinformation and false conspiracies, mixes those lies with a supposed religious mandate, and then directs his followers to harass his enemies. And if being misled was not enough, those same followers are then solicited to donate to one of Bundy’s Wyoming corporations or to Mr. Rodriguez’s Freedom Tabernacle Church," Stidham said.
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