ST. LOUIS — Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., was arrested at least three times in the 1980s during anti-abortion protests, not just the one time he has publicly acknowledged.
Akin’s previously undisclosed arrests, in 1985, were for criminal trespass and resisting arrest at abortion clinic protests in St. Louis and Illinois.
Akin, who is trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, said last month that he had once been arrested at an anti-abortion demonstration — the kind of arrest viewed by some in the anti-abortion movement as a statement of civil disobedience. His campaign later declined to provide details.
The additional arrests came to light during a new search of the newspaper’s archives. The arrests were missed in previous searches because the news stories had listed Akin by his given first name, William.
Akin started going by his middle name, Todd, when he began his political career in the state Legislature in the late 1980s, and he has been listed as Todd Akin in media coverage since then.
In an emailed response, Akin spokesman Rick Tyler dismissed the issue as “something that happened quarter century ago.”
The liberal group People for the American Way, which has been hammering at Akin’s past in the anti-abortion movement, said that past should disqualify him from office. “These were not nonviolent protests. These were aggressive, physical efforts to shut down clinics,” Michael Keegan, president of the group, said in a statement.
In a speech to supporters last month, Akin casually mentioned that he had been arrested years ago at an anti-abortion demonstration. “Don’t tell anybody I’m a jail bird,” he joked. He described how “a bunch of us sat in front of these doors and the police gave us a ride to the free hotel for a while, and you know how it goes.”
At a news conference later, Akin offered a little more explanation, saying: “Probably about 25 years ago or so I was involved in some peaceful protests. As I’ve made very clear I don’t apologize for being pro-life. I stand up for the things I believe in.”
Akin was apparently never charged with anything. St. Louis police don’t release arrest records of people who aren’t charged. However, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about the demonstrations and arrests at the time.
The first of the events, according to the newspaper’s archives, was on March 15, 1985. Among those arrested, according to a story in the next day’s paper, was William Akin, 37, of a Creve Coeur address. The age and address are consistent with other information the newspaper has about Todd Akin.
Three weeks later, another six protesters, including Akin, were arrested at another St. Louis demonstration. “Police had to carry Akin into an elevator,” the story read.
On April 5, 1985, Akin was arrested for a third time, one of 10 protesters who were “attempting to block entrances” at Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, according to the paper.
Akin’s strong anti-abortion beliefs are no surprise to those who have followed his career, especially this year. He is in an uphill election battle, after his campaign was set back by his August comments on “legitimate rape” and pregnancy.