Published March 13, 2014
A teenage pro-life demonstrator who claims she was assaulted by a feminist studies professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara during a campus event this month told FoxNews.com she is more determined than ever to protest against abortion.
Thrin Short, 16, and her sister Joan, 21, had handed out nearly 1,000 informational pamphlets during a March 4 outreach event organized by the Riverside-based nonprofit Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust before things took an unexpected turn. Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young approached the demonstrators and a group of students who had gathered and she became incensed, according to Thrin Short, eventually snatching a sign the girl was holding and walking off with it.
“Before she grabbed the sign, she was mocking me and talking over me in front of the students, saying that she was twice as old as me and had three degrees, so they should listen to her and not me,” Thrin Short wrote in an email to FoxNews.com. “Then she started the chant with the students about ‘tear down the sign.’ When that died out, she grabbed the sign.”
With the graphic anti-abortion sign in hand, Miller-Young, whose faculty web page says she specializes in black cultural studies and pornography, then allegedly walked through two campus buildings as Short, her sister and two UCSB students followed closely behind. Short captured much of the incident, which she charged was a "deliberate" provocation by Miller-Young, on a cellphone video later posted to YouTube while her sister called campus police. Miller-Young pushed Short at least three times, the student alleges, as she tried to stop an elevator door from closing as the educator stood inside with her sign, Short said.
“I explained how I had been trying to keep the elevator door open with my foot, because I thought the police would be there any second, and that’s when she pushed and grabbed me,” Short’s email continued. “She then got off the elevator and tried to pull me away from the elevator doors so the others could get away with the sign.”
Short said she suffered minor injuries during the melee — scratches on both wrists — and said campus police are now reviewing the video.
Miller-Young declined to comment when reached by FoxNews.com, referring inquiries to her attorney, Catherine Swysen, who did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.
Several messages seeking comment from UCSB police spokesman Sgt. Rob Romero were also not returned, but school officials acknowledged the incident in a statement.
“The university is aware of the incident and it is being reviewed by the appropriate offices,” spokesman George Foulsham wrote to FoxNews.com. “It is university policy not to discuss personnel matters.”
Kristina Garza, director of campus outreach for the nonprofit pro-life group, said Miller-Young initially tried to lead a small group of students to protest the anti-abortion advocates before simply grabbing Short’s sign herself.
“We recognize the irony of the incident,” Garza told FoxNews.com. “The professor is a feminist studies professor and her specialty is pornography, and she did commit an act of violence against another woman. So, the irony there to us is rather great.”
The event took place on the public university's so-called “free speech zone,” Garza said, adding that she was shocked by the level of anger shown by Miller-Young.
“This is one of the most extreme cases of lashing out in anger I’ve ever seen,” she said. “We’ve never seen a professor act so violently toward one of our missionaries or trainees.”
Thrin Short, who wants to see Miller-Young prosecuted for the alleged assault, said she won’t let it keep her from future pro-life events, particularly on college campuses.
“If she isn’t prosecuted, wouldn’t anyone else think they could do the same thing and get away with it? The assault on me was part of the whole package of her deciding that she was above the law and could do whatever she liked to us,” Short’s email continued. “ … Fortunately, in our country, we can speak out against abortion and other evils, and the law protects us. It would be cowardly to back off just because of what this one person did.”