Lawsuits continue as man serves time for tricking Remee Jo Lee into taking abortifacient

 

By Dave Andrusko

John Andrew Welden, right, is escorted from the U.S. District Courthouse in Tampa after being sentenced last January to 13 years and eight months in prison. WILL VRAGOVIC | THE TAMPA BAY TIMES

John Andrew Welden, right, is escorted from the U.S. District Courthouse in Tampa after being sentenced last January to 13 years and eight months in prison.
WILL VRAGOVIC | THE TAMPA BAY TIMES

There were always broad hints that the conviction of John Andrew Welden for tricking his girlfriend Remee Jo Lee into taking Cytotec which caused her to miscarriage their baby, was not the final word in the case. A story Friday in the Tampa Bay Times proves that to be true.

As NRL News Today readers recall, in September 2013, Welden cut a deal to avoid a murder charge made possible by the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act–legislation that was instigated by NRLC and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004. If he’d been convicted on that charge, Welden faced a mandatory life sentence.

Instead Welden was sentenced almost a year ago to 13 years and eight months in prison on charges of product tampering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

But persistent prodding by the Tampa Bay Times led to the release of many pages of the sheriff’s report, much of which had been kept secret for 20 months, according to Patti Ryan of the Tampa Bay Times, including the all important part that names pharmacy staff.

In addition, we learned from Ryan that “One of her private attor­neys filed papers in Hillsborough Circuit Court last month for an extension of time to make a medical malpractice claim against Stephen and Lenora Welden,” Ryan reported.

Ryan also noted that Lee had not accused Dr. Weldon or Lenora, his nurse practitioner wife, of wrongdoing as of now.

The broad outlines are clear. Welden told Lee that Welden’s father, Dr. Stephen Welden, had diagnosed her with an infection. Welden procured a bottle of Cytotec from a local pharmacy, switched labels so that Lee thought she was taking a common antibiotic. The prescription was written on Dr. Stephen Welden’s prescription pad.

Then it gets murkier, courtesy of the sheriff’s report and Lee’s lawsuit.

In March 2013 Dr. Welden had shown Lee her ultrasound that revealed that Lee was carrying a 6-7-week-old baby. Lenora Welden, according to Ryan, drew Lee’s blood while John Welden “stood in the wings.”

Lee alleges in her lawsuit that after the exam, she got dressed and saw Andrew Welden talking to Lenora Welden. According to Ryan

She told detectives she heard Lenora Wel­den make an offer to Andrew

“Let me know if you still need those pills,” Lee recalled hearing, according to a transcript. She told detectives that she thought Lenora Welden was referring to abortion pills.

Todd Foster, the Welden family attorney, said Lenora flatly denies making the statement or anything close to it.

Lee has already sued two pharmacists, “a pharmacy technician and legal entities linked to Sunlake Pharmacy in Lutz, where the prescription was filled,” according to Ryan. “That lawsuit now involves at least 10 attorneys and has cleared enough hurdles for questioning under oath to begin.”

Since Andrew Welden confessed to forging the prescription, Ryan writes that

One question that begs to be answered: Who at Dr. Welden’s office took a phone call from the pharmacy to verify the date of the forged prescription? Dr. Welden, speaking through Foster, said it wasn’t him.

The sheriff’s report states that pharmacist Ingrid Bendeck ultimately dispensed the Cytotec to Welden.

She thought it was a strange request, the report states, “but she did not question it because he had a pre­scription.”

She said [pharmacy technician Josef] Stahel took the first call from Welden asking whether the pharmacy stocked Cytotec. It had to be ordered.

Ryan reports that the FBI has not named any suspects although it continues to investigate whether further charges are warranted.

When Welden was sentenced in January 2014, it was the depths of Ms. Lee’s loss of the baby she had already named Memphis that Ryan conveyed in her account. Ryan wrote

Welden may have a dismal future, she said, but Memphis has no future.

“He hurt me really badly,” she testified. “More so than anyone else in this entire world. He took away the most precious thing I could have ever had and that was my baby, our baby.”

She felt death inside of her, she said.

At one point, her remarks turned into a sort of eulogy for the baby she didn’t get to have.

Memphis, she said, filled her every breath with meaning.

Memphis taught her the importance of family.

Memphis taught her how strong she was.

Memphis taught her about self-respect.

“I never want to forget Memphis. I loved being pregnant. I wish that Memphis were here. I need him so much. But he is here. He’s always in my heart. He’s with my family and I think he’s here, he’s what’s brought us all together.”