California professor pleads no contest to assault on pro-life students

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A feminist studies professor at a California state university accused of forcibly grabbing an anti-abortion activist’s poster and assaulting the 16-year-old girl has pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor charges.

University of California at Santa Barbara Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young was charged with one count each of grand theft, vandalism and battery in connection to the March 4 incident involving 16-year-old Thrin Short, her older sister, Joan, and other pro-life activists who were holding signs in a free speech zone on the campus when the professor went berserk.

Miller-Young, who remains employed by the university, and her attorney, Catherine Swysen, did not respond to requests for comment. The charges reportedly carry the possibility of jail time, but sources close to the matter say Miller-Young is likely to be ordered to pay a fine, perform community and undergo counseling when she’s sentenced on Aug. 14.

According to a police report on the March 4 incident, Miller-Young told police that she was pregnant and was “triggered” by the protesters’ signs and the graphic images depicted on them.


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“We hope that the sentence as a whole will unambiguously undo the ‘good example’ she believes she set for her students, both in her own mind and theirs,” Katie Short, the girls’ mother and legal director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, wrote in an email.

Thrin and Joan Short said they had distributed nearly 1,000 informational pamphlets during the event, which was organized by the Riverside-based nonprofit Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust. Things took an unexpected turn when, according to Short, Miller-Young approached the demonstrators and a group of students who had gathered.

“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 told in March. “Then she started the chant with the students about ‘tear down the sign.’ When that died out, she grabbed the sign.”

With a 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. Short captured much of the confrontation on a cellphone video later posted to YouTube while her sister called campus police. Miller-Young then allegedly pushed Short at least three times as she tried to stop an elevator door from closing as the educator stood inside with her sign, Short said.

Miller-Young later claimed she had a “moral right” to act in the manner she did, according to a report filed by campus police.

Thrin's father, William Short, said he would have expected an academic to engage in thoughtful debate with someone she disagreed with.

"She was free to engage in a rational dialogue with them," he told in March. "Instead, she chose to bully them, steal and destroy their property, and hit and scratch my daughter. After doing so, she said she thought she was setting a good example for her students.

"I think the goal of this prosecution should be to set a good example for her students, one that will not only deter her from repeating this conduct, but will also deter those who approve of her actions from imitating her appalling behavior," William Short continued.

UCSB spokesman George Foulsham said the university does not discuss personal matters.

"Professor Miller-Young is not currently teaching any courses and is not scheduled to teach any courses during the fall quarter," Foulsham wrote in a statement to on Friday.

Thrin Short, meanwhile, said she's disappointed there will not be a trial in the case.

"There are still people who think that we were deliberately trying to upset people and that in a way we deserved what happened," she wrote "For that reason, I am disappointed that there will be no trial where we can show that we tried to calm her down and reason with her and the students, but she didn’t want us having any discussions with the students."