Casper Woman to Serve Five Years in Prison for Abortion Clinic Arson
Federal judge imposed mandatory minimum sentence after plea deal
- Published In: Criminal Justice
- Last Updated: Sep 29, 2023
Lorna Green, 22, was sentenced to five years of federal incarceration for setting fire to an abortion clinic in Casper last year. (Platte County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)
By Jacob Gardenswartz
Special to the Wyoming Truth
Over sixteen months after Wyoming’s only surgical abortion clinic was intentionally set on fire, the arsonist was sentenced to five years in prison by a federal judge on Thursday.
Under the sentence imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson, Lorna Roxanne Green, 22, of Casper, will serve 60 months in federal prison with three years of supervised release. She has also been ordered to pay restitution, though the exact amount she owes has not yet been determined, according to sentencing documents filed in federal court.
“No matter what an individual’s opinions or objectives may be, the use of violence and property destruction to advance them is never acceptable,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming Nicholas Vassallo said in a statement. “This was a reckless and serious crime which endangered the community and caused significant financial harm to the clinic’s owner. The sentence imposed today, five years of federal incarceration, appropriately reflects the gravity of Ms. Green’s offense.”
On May 25, 2022, Casper’s Wellspring Health Access Clinic — a facility for surgical and medical abortions, sexual health services and gender-affirming care set to open the following month — was lit ablaze, causing nearly $300,000 in damage and delaying the clinic’s opening, according to the organization’s president, Julie Burkhart. The clinic finally opened in April.
Authorities failed to identify any suspects in their investigation until March, when an “anonymous donor” helped increase the reward for sharing information about the case to $15,000.
On March 22, Green was arrested and charged with arson of a facility engaged in interstate commerce. She initially pleaded not guilty after her indictment by a grand jury — a charge which, if convicted, could have carried a sentence of up to 20 years. But shortly before a jury trial was set to begin, Green reached a plea deal with prosecutors, changed her plea and was taken into custody.
The five-year sentence rendered Thursday represents the mandatory minimum punishment she can face for such a crime under federal law.
According to an affidavit from investigators who interviewed her two days before she was first arrested, Green admitted to being present at the crime scene and setting fire to the building.
“Green stated that she did not like abortion and was having nightmares which she attributed to her anxiety about the abortion clinic, so she decided to burn the building,” the affidavit read.
Police said Green, who was living in Laramie at the time of the arson, described how she broke into the clinic, spread gasoline — which she’d purchased from Walmart the day prior — around the building and fled once the flames began to spread “too fast.” Green told police that she struggled to remove the smell of the gas from her clothing, washing it multiple times; investigators later found clothing in her room matching what a suspect caught on surveillance video was wearing.
In a Thursday statement, Burkhart said she was “relieved” the case was concluded and “justice had been served.”
“No one should have to fear for their life when they go to work, and our clinic is no different,” Burkhart said. “While we are glad that this perpetrator has been brought to justice, we at Wellspring Health Access know all too well that the potential for anti-abortion violence has not gone away. This arson attack didn’t occur in a vacuum––it’s part of a broader pattern of anti-abortion violence and harassment.”
Indeed, in the year after Roe v. Wade was overturned and the federal right to abortion eliminated, there was a sharp increase in threats and violence against abortion providers, according to a report from the National Abortion Federation. In 2022, at least 218 threats were made against such individuals and abortion clinics, up from 182 the year prior.
In Wyoming, abortion remains legal up until the point of viability, despite multiple efforts by state lawmakers to ban the procedure. Each effort — including the state’s first-in-the-nation medical abortion ban — has been halted in court, with cases set to go to trial next spring.