A faith leader who runs crisis pregnancy centers in Upstate New York is alleging he had a “surreal” experience with Federal Bureau of Investigation officials after his pro-life clinic was firebombed, claiming agents screamed at him on the phone and waited months to put out a most wanted poster.
Listen to the latest episode of CBN’s Quick Start podcast
The Rev. Jim Harden, president of CompassCare Pregnancy Services in Rochester, New York, told CBN’s Faithwire communication with state and federal officials has been “sparse” since his Buffalo clinic was firebombed in June — just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
“With respect to local law enforcement, they’ve been the most communicative,” Harden said, adding the caveat he believes the FBI has negatively influenced local authorities.
But that’s not Harden’s only claim.
“[The FBI] stopped communicating with us, refused to communicate with me after June 24th … that’s the day that the Dobbs case came out officially overturning Roe vs. Wade,” he said.
The faith leader said his relationship with the FBI became tenser when he asked on the evening of June 24 if officials would do anything to help protect his clinics in light of the Supreme Court decision and the rage and anger that followed. Rather than pledge assistance, he said the FBI “communicated rage.”
“They literally started screaming at me on the phone. I’m not kidding you,” Harden said. “It was a surreal incident.”
At the time, he and his family had to move locations due to threats and attacks, and he was concerned considering one clinic had already been firebombed. After that conversation in June, Harden said it was months before he again communicated with the FBI.
Watch him detail the story:
During those months of purported silence, his organization also began challenging authorities in court to give back surveillance footage Harden handed over from the night of the attack.
“They didn’t communicate with me up until Oct. 12,” Harden said, noting this was the day Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and others released a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, asking why violence against pro-life organizations was purportedly not being investigated with appropriate fervor.
Harden said he received a call just hours after the letter was released, with FBI officials asking him to talk.
“They wanted to talk about our characterization of the FBI in the media and our lawsuit to retrieve our own video surveillance back from law enforcement so we could see it and our attorneys could actually begin the process of putting together a case against the perpetrators, because it’s key,” he said.
Harden subsequently met with two FBI officials in October and said they insisted they were on the same page. They also revealed they would consider creating a reward for information leading to an arrest in the case — something that unfolded weeks later in November.
As for the footage, Harden said he still does not have access to the file. He was able to watch the footage at an FBI office in October, and said the video instantly exposed how those responsible for the firebombing are “professionals.”
“This was a hit job. These people knew exactly what they were doing. They didn’t miss a step,” he said. “They knew how to break windows without getting hurt. They knew how to make Molotov cocktails on the spot. They didn’t care that they were being recorded.”
Harden described the assailants as calm and collected and said watching the video made it clear the evidence would all be gone after the crime. The professional nature of the crime with the months-long gap before the FBI’s release and he believes it will be difficult to solve.
The FBI is now offering a reward, but Harden said it’s too late.
“And here we are five months later and they’re putting out a $25,000 award,” he said. “It’s a day late and a dollar short. That’s what it is.”
The FBI’s “most wanted” poster offers details on the crime and the impact of the damage caused by the perpetrators.
“The FBI is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the individuals responsible for the arson of the CompassCare Pregnancy Services Center at 1230 Eggert Road, Amherst, New York, on June 7, 2022,” the document reads. “At approximately 2:45 a.m., the Amherst Police Department received a 911 call regarding a fire at the CompassCare Center.”
It continues, “Individual(s) had thrown Molotov cocktails at the center. This started a fire that caused significant damage. One of the individuals spray-painted the words ‘Jane was here’ on the building.”
Harden said he received a call Nov. 14 from the FBI informing him about the release of the “most wanted” information and the reward.
“They did not list it on the FBI website as domestic terror,” he said. “They listed as an isolated event, which is important because this is … national domestic terror.”
The FBI previously told Fox News the agency is trying to get help from the public to identify those responsible and is investigating other clinic attacks and vandalism as well.
“The FBI is investigating a series of attacks and threats targeting pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and reproductive health clinics across the country, as well as to judicial buildings, including the US Supreme Court,” the FBI told Fox.
That response came amid speculation the agency suddenly appears more active due to worries about potential investigations after Republicans take over the House of Representatives early next year.
Despite the chaos and ongoing investigation, Harden said CompassCare has no plans to back away from its pro-life mission.
“CompassCare is going to continue to move forward. We’ve said that from the very beginning. We didn’t stop services for a single day,” he said. “We had to relocate services in Buffalo the very next day [after the firebombing]. It took a lot of work, but we did it. So this is too important. We’re not going to stop.”
A phone message left for the Buffalo FBI field office has not yet been returned. The story will be updated as new details emerge.