Thursday morning, July 24, 2014, Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor of feminist studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, entered a plea of nolo contendere (no contest) to the criminal charges against her, which include grand theft, vandalism, and battery. The charges stem from Ms. Miller-Young’s actions on March 4, 2014, when she attacked and forcibly took property from teenage pro-life advocates exercising their free speech rights at the UC Santa Barbara campus. The plea means that she will be convicted on the three misdemeanor charges. A sentencing hearing has been set for late August, 2014.
The pro-life young people victimized by Miller-Young included Thrin and Joan Short, the daughters of Life Legal Defense Foundation’s Legal Director, Katie Short. The sisters had the presence of mind to capture the altercation on video while calling the police. The video shows Miller-Young and two students parading through campus with the stolen sign; later, Miller-Young can be seen shoving and grabbing Thrin Short. Although Thrin came away from the attack with visible scratches on both of her arms, the Short family has called for restraint in speaking about Miller-Young.
When interviewed by the police after the incident, Miller-Young said she believed that her theft and destruction of the sign had “set a good example for her students.”
“Today’s plea bring us one step closer to seeing justice done in this case,” comments Ms. Short. “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.”
To date, it is not known whether UCSB has imposed any disciplinary sanctions on Ms. Miller-Young. The University has not made any public statement much less issued an apology for the criminal actions of its employee and students. Two weeks after the incident, Vice-Chancellor Michael Young sent a letter to UCSB students and faculty. While generally supporting free speech, Vice-Chancellor Young decried the presence of “outsiders coming into our midst to provoke us, to taunt us and attempt to turn us against one another.” He urged students to notify the Office of Student Life if they “feel harassed” or believe that “outsiders” are violating the law.