The Fight of Their Lives

Page 20 of 23

Hern left the clinic, only to be "followed by that son of a bitch in his truck," he says. "I was terrified and had to ditch him."

He managed to reach the Boulder County courthouse safely. There a judge issued an order for Scott's arrest and involuntary commitment to a mental health institution based on a motion by Rundus and supported by an affidavit from Hern.

Colorado law authorizes the involuntary commitment of a person to a mental facility for a 72-hour evaluation upon a finding by a court that such an individual is gravely disabled and/or a threat to himself and/or others.

At the Gilpin County courthouse, Hern swore out a similar affidavit and was granted a temporary restraining order against Scott. "I believe that Kenneth Scott's condition has rapidly deteriorated in these past few months and that it will continue to deteriorate," Hern said. "I believe that he is a danger to others and perhaps gravely disabled as a result of his mentally ill, religious obsessions with me and the abortion rights issue."

On December 20, Scott was arrested and taken to the Boulder County Mental Health Center. There he was served with the temporary restraining order and told to appear at the Gilpin County courthouse two weeks later to defend himself against Hern's request for a permanent restraining order.

Scott was transported to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan for further evaluation. Upon his arrival, Dr. G. Qwick determined that Scott had homicidal thoughts and was a threat to defendant Hern.

On December 21 Scott was evaluated again, this time by Dr. Alan Levy. "The patient is a tall, handsome man who was very cordial and cooperative during the interview...fairly intense, and having a particular ax to grind that very much colored the interview. In other words, he said he was here on a mission: to promote his views against abortion, and he seemed to want to get his message across to me.

"He told of how he had been in some trouble in his earlier years, being hospitalized for depression, being hospitalized here after hitting someone, and having difficulty with his ex-wife and his loss of custody of his children...but that he had worked through God on his theological and philosophical positions.

"He was now a born-again Christian, who feels called by God to point out the evils of abortion and will go to legal extremes to test the system and try to effect change, but who is a pacifist, and is against all violence."

As for telling Hern that he didn't have long to live, Scott explained to his evaluator "that he meant that we will all die relatively soon and meet our maker and be judged, and he wants the doctor to repent first."

Levy thought that Scott was bipolar, but Scott refused to take any medication that might help determine if that was an accurate diagnosis.

The next day Dr. David Graybill, the facility's chief psychiatrist, evaluated Scott. He concluded that the patient was a danger to himself, a danger to others and gravely disabled.

Graybill certified that Scott be involuntarily committed for 90 days for further evaluation; Scott was also told he would be involuntarily forced to take psycho-active drugs. Scott was advised he had a right to a hearing before a judge and jury; a trial date was set for February 5.

John Winston, Scott's attorney, planned to use the trial to prove a conspiracy between doctors and law enforcement officials. He would challenge Hern's "insupportable conclusions about all anti-abortion demonstrators being thugs and terrorists," Winston claimed. "Hern's behavior suggests that Hern suffers from irrational fears." Some of his witnesses, he promised, would offer an alternative explanation for what Newell said was "stalking" behavior.

They never got the chance. On January 27, Bob Enyart broadcast a phone interview with Scott. The mental-health institute's switchboard was immediately deluged with telephone calls, many of them threatening, in support of Scott.

Three days later, Graybill reversed himself. "The past five weeks, Mr. Scott's psychiatric condition has been thoroughly and repeatedly examined," he wrote Boulder County District Judge Murray Richtel. "He has for the most part been calm and in control. At no time has he been assaultive, made verbal threats, or been threatening in demeanor. He repeatedly and emphatically denies any thoughts, plans, or intent (previous, current or future) to harm or kill Dr. Hern or anyone else."

Although Scott's statements that Hern has less than a year to live caused the doctor "understandable concern...(and I do believe that Mr. Scott at times likes to intimidate and frighten people), I could find no evidence that Mr. Scott has made a direct threat to the life or safety of Dr. Hern," Graybill concluded. "Furthermore, there is no evidence that Mr. Scott has threatened Dr. Hern with a weapon...

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Steve Jackson

Latest Stories