A man who told the authorities that he had set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Illinois after being reminded of an ex-girlfriend who he said had an abortion against his wishes was sentenced on Tuesday to 10 years in prison.
The man, Tyler W. Massengill, 33, of Chillicothe, Ill., was also ordered by Judge James E. Shadid in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to pay $1.45 million for the damage he caused to the clinic. After he completes his sentence, Mr. Massengill will be on supervised release for three years, according to court records.
The sentencing came about seven months after firefighters and police officers in Peoria responded to a report of a fire at the clinic at 2709 Knoxville Avenue late on Jan. 15, according to a criminal complaint. Surveillance video footage led the police to Mr. Massengill, who initially denied that he had set the fire but later admitted that he had broken a window at the clinic and placed a burning container inside, the complaint said.
Mr. Massengill told investigators that on the day of the fire, something had reminded him about an ex-girlfriend who he said had chosen to have an abortion, which upset him. He told the authorities that if the fire had caused “a little delay” in someone receiving care at the clinic then it would have been “all worth it,” the complaint said.
Mr. Massengill pleaded guilty in February to malicious use of fire and an explosive to damage the building. He had faced up to 20 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois.
Before the sentence was handed down, Mr. Massengill, wearing an orange jumpsuit, expressed remorse for the hardship his actions had caused for clinic employees.
“I feel for the people who have lost their jobs,” he said, according to WMBD, a television station in Peoria. “I’m not trying to play like I am victim at this,” Mr. Massengill added. “I was sincerely hurt.”
Questions remain about Mr. Massengill’s claim about an ex-girlfriend. During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors read from an F.B.I. report by an agent who interviewed Mr. Massengill’s ex-girlfriend, who said that she had never had an abortion, according to WMBD.
A lawyer for Mr. Massengill did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Referring to Mr. Massengill’s claim that he had acted on the spur of the moment, according to WMBD, Judge Shadid said, “If it is possible to be both spontaneous and intentional at the same time, you achieved it.” He added, “And to add to your accomplishments, there’s the striking of fear, stress and inconvenience to thousands of patients and employees from the many other Planned Parenthood facilities who wonder if they are next on the list of misguided people like you.”
Gregory K. Harris, the U.S. attorney for the Central District of Illinois, said in a statement on Tuesday that Mr. Massengill’s “destructive actions in setting fire to the Peoria health clinic were reprehensible and limited the ability of women in our community to access important reproductive health services.”
No one was hurt because of the fire, but the clinic “suffered significant damage,” forcing it to close its doors to patients, according to the complaint.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois said in a statement on Tuesday that the clinic was scheduled to reopen early next year.
Jennifer Welch, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said in a statement on Tuesday that “justice has been served and a powerful message has been sent that acts of violence against Planned Parenthood of Illinois will not be tolerated.”
“When someone attacks one of our health centers, they do more than damage a building,” Ms. Welch said. “They rob the community of essential sexual and reproductive health care like birth control, S.T.I. testing and treatment, cancer screenings and gender-affirming care. We stand in solidarity with the community in Peoria that continues to heal from this traumatic event.”