An associate professor of feminist studies at UC Santa Barbara pleaded not guilty Friday to misdemeanor battery and other charges related to a confrontation she had with an anti-abortion group on campus last month.
Associate professor Mireille Miller-Young did not appear in Santa Barbara Superior Court for Friday morning's arraignment, but her defense attorney, Catherine Swysen, entered the plea in her stead.
Miller-Young faces charges of theft from a person, battery and vandalism based on the March 4 incident, during which prosecutors allege the professor took a protestor’s sign, committed battery on another protester, and then destroyed the sign.
She will next appear in court May 1 for a readiness-and-settlement hearing.
According to the report posted by Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, the altercation occurred as Miller-Young was walking through the Arbor near Davidson Library to her office in South Hall.
Miller-Young told police she was “triggered” by the graphic images of fetuses on posters displayed by the group, whose members approached her with literature about abortion.
According to the police report, the professor found the literature and pictures “disturbing” and “offensive” because she teaches reproduction rights and because she is pregnant.
At that point, the report says, Miller-Young demanded the images be taken down as a crowd of students gathered, and she then grabbed a sign from a girl’s hands.
“Asked if there had been a struggle, Miller-Young stated, ‘I’m stronger so I was able to take the poster,’” the report said.
One of the girls from the anti-abortion group has chronicled the experience in a blog post, which includes pictures of scratches allegedly left on her arm by Miller-Young when she grabbed the poster.
The university has offered no comment on ongoing legal proceedings involving Miller-Young, a faculty member at UCSB since 2005 who did some postdoctoral work there before that.