PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The wife of a Philadelphia doctor convicted of murdering babies during late-term abortions was sentenced on Wednesday to up to 23 months in prison for helping her husband.
Pearl Gosnell, 52, whose husband, Dr Kermit Gosnell, ran the now-shuttered Women’s Medical Society clinic in Philadelphia, had pleaded guilty to performing an illegal abortion, being part of a corrupt organization and conspiracy.
Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner ordered Pearl Gosnell to serve seven to 23 months behind bars for her role in the clinic, which prosecutors described as a “house of horrors.”
Earlier this month her 72-year-old husband was sent to prison for three life terms without parole after being convicted by a jury of murdering babies during late-term abortions at his squalid clinic.
The graphic testimony at Kermit Gosnell’s trial, which cast a spotlight on the controversial practice of late-term abortions, recounted the doctor cutting the necks of babies who were expelled and breathing after botched abortions.
Also sentenced on Wednesday was Adrienne Moton, 36, a key witness who testified against the doctor.
Moton took a cellphone picture of one victim, identified only as Baby A, who another clinic worker testified the doctor described as “big enough to walk me to the bus stop.”
Moton, who had pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, participating in a corrupt organization and conspiracy in a deal that required her to testify against the doctor, faced 36 months in prison.
Lerner said she had already served 28 months in jail and, since there was no benefit in keeping her locked up any longer, she would be freed immediately.
Lerner credited Pearl Gosnell with three months already served, meaning she could be freed after serving little more than four months.
“I don’t like to put people in prison,” the judge said. “But I can’t overlook the offenses that you have committed over time. I can’t overlook your role in this operation.”
“First let me say how sorry I am,” responded Gosnell in a tear-choked voice. “It is my fault for not being diligent about what was going on around me ... I relied on what my husband told me.”
Prosecutor Joanne Pescatore told the judge Gosnell wasn’t sympathetic.
“It makes me sick,” Pescatore said of what she called the greed and money that flowed into the clinic, which served a predominantly black and low-income community.
“She was a key participant,” Pescatore said, adding that both Gosnells took advantage of “these desperate women that were at the end of their ropes.”
Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Beech