Anti-abortion crusader Ken Scott wants to save everyone else's unborn children. He just doesn't pay to support those he fathered personally.
For years the twice-married, twice-divorced proponent of family values has been a fixture at the anti-abortion protests outside the Planned Parenthood clinic at 20th and Vine. At the same time, he's been a deadbeat dad.
A couple of years back, Scott was banished to 18th and Vine--two blocks south of the clinic--after the court issued a restraining order against him. He had vowed to "get" a clinic employee who signed a trespassing complaint against him. Scott didn't mind the exile. In fact, it was a busier corner for him and his followers to display their grisly posters of aborted fetuses and "Honk for Life" signs to passing motorists.
Debate with Scott is impossible. He's liable to break into a diatribe about God's anger regarding abortions as evidenced by all sorts of disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. He has also been known to get into screaming matches and even fights with Vine Street neighbors and passersby.
Scott can usually be found Tuesday through Saturday mornings (the time when the clinic performs abortions) on the Vine Street corner. He also protests outside the Boulder abortion clinic of Dr. Warren Hern, who he told Westword in October "has less than a year to live." (At last report, authorities had placed Scott in a mental hospital over Christmas because he allegedly was stalking Hern.)
Asked how he makes a living while spending so much time picketing, Scott has said, "The Lord provides." His second former wife, Diana L. Scott, probably would like the Lord to provide a little more so that her ex can make his child-support payments.
According to Arapahoe County documents related to their 1990 divorce and subsequent actions, Scott stopped working about the same time the settlement was finalized. He had been ordered to pay $650 a month in child support for his three young daughters. But in early 1993 his ex-wife had him hauled before a judge to face a contempt-of-court charge for being $9,750 in arrears (fifteen months' worth of payments).
The 43-year-old Scott argued that he couldn't work "after 22 years of hard labor" on loading docks because of an injured shoulder. He reinjured it shortly after the divorce, he said, when he returned to work too soon because he was depressed about the divorce and wanted "to keep my mind from committing suicide."
Noting that Scott has a college degree, a real estate license and talent as a home remodeler--not to mention enough stamina to enthusiastically picket--Judge Michael Bieda didn't buy the excuse. He sentenced Scott, who has spent some time in the pokey due to his anti-abortion activities, to six months in the county jail.
Scott had already angered the court when another judge, Jack L. Smith, told him he couldn't take his children to anti-abortion protests. One of his daughters, then age nine, didn't want to attend the rallies (the others were apparently ambivalent). On the recommendation of a social worker, Judge Smith determined that taking the children to rallies, where Scott was "in danger of arrest," would be detrimental to their physical and emotional health.
Scott responded by saying, "I'm going to defy the court. I'm going to take them with me everywhere I go...I'm going to do with my children as I see fit."
The social worker asked that Scott's visitation privileges be revoked, saying, "I don't think Mr. Scott is capable of placing the children's needs above his own in this issue."
Ralph Rhodes, the attorney for Scott's ex-wife, tried to play peacemaker: "I, for one...feel that Mr. Scott should be given a chance to weigh his love for his children with his love for his belief."
But Scott said he wouldn't negotiate. "You're not going to plea bargain with me here," he said at the time. "I'm going to win, or, unfortunately, the children are going to lose."
Judge Smith asked, "Are you telling me you would prefer your child lose?"
To which Scott responded, "I put the Lord above everything--my mother, my family, my children. There are 30 million babies killed in this country...and the Lord wants me out there as a witness..."
The judge insisted that he wasn't trying to infringe on Scott's free-speech rights or rights as a parent. Scott could take his kids to church, the judge said, but not to rallies.
Scott wouldn't budge and lost his rights to unsupervised visitation. Acting as his own lawyer, he sued Smith in 1993 for denying him his parental rights "because the judge disagrees with my Christian religious beliefs." He also sued Bieda for tossing him in jail. Neither suit went anywhere. Scott's correspondence with the courts, much of it written from his cell, was easily spotted due to such cheerful greetings scrawled on the envelopes as: "Abortion Kills Children!" and "Abortion is murder by way of legalized judicial authority! Who will God judge first?"
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Court records don't indicate whether Scott has regained those visitation rights. However, the records do indicate that he has made only three child-support payments since getting out of jail in 1993--two for full payment in September and October of that year and another in September for $30.
In the meantime, Scott has been unavailable for comment. He's been in the state hospital in Fort Logan on a psychiatric hold since the week before Christmas. He was placed there at the request of Hern, who says Scott has been stalking him.
"He followed me to my home, thirty miles southwest of Boulder," says Hern. "He even followed me to the county attorney's office, where I signed the petition asking for the psychiatric hold. They'll have to evaluate him on whether to let him loose. I'm kind of hunkered down, waiting to see what happens next."
Diana Scott could not be located at any of the addresses listed in court records or in the telephone book. Her lawyer, Rhodes, said the last he heard from her, she was inquiring about terminating her ex-husband's parental rights because of non-support.