Bail, 'strict house arrest' set for Gosnell's wife

Gosnell
Gosnell
Posted: April 05, 2011

After living behind bars since Jan. 19, Pearl Gosnell, the wife and co-defendant of an abortion doctor accused of committing eight murders, yesterday was granted freedom - with strings attached.

Gosnell, 50, who had been held on $1 million bail after being charged with helping to perform illegal abortions, along with conspiracy and with related counts, will be put on "strict house arrest" once she is released, said Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner.

The judge said she will be released on $50,000 sign-on bail, which means that she'll have to sign her name on the bail documents without having to put up any money.

She'll be released from Riverside Correctional Facility once she is fitted with an electronic-monitoring device, the judge said.

Because of the scarcity of such equipment, that could take up to two weeks, said Gosnell's new private defense attorney, F. Michael Medway.

Assistant District Attorney Christine Wechsler, who opposed reducing Gosnell's bail, told Lerner that, due to the seriousness of the charges she faces, she was a flight risk because she has significant assets and contacts in other states.

Lerner rebuffed those concerns, saying that Gosnell had no prior arrests and that she has ties to the community and a 13-year-old daughter to look after.

She will not be able to leave her home while awaiting trial except with court permission to attend hearings and to meet with her attorney, Medway said.

Gosnell's husband, Kermit Gosnell, is not eligible for bail because he has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of seven babies he is accused of delivering then killing by cutting their spinal cords with scissors at his Women's Medical Society clinic in West Philadelphia.

He has also been charged with third-degree murder in the 2009 death of Karna Maya Mongar, 41, who died after receiving an alleged illegal abortion at the clinic.

Once released, Pearl Gosnell will be the fifth of 10 defendants in the case to make bail.

Last month, Lerner removed Gosnell's court-appointed attorney from the case over conflict-of-interest concerns. That attorney, Mary Maran, works for the practice run by high-profile defense attorney Jack McMahon, who is representing Kermit Gosnell. On three occasions Maran met with Kermit Gosnell in jail, meetings that Lerner ruled inappropriate.

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