Arthur Rathburn’s trial is underway in federal court in Detroit. The “body broker” is alleged to have knowingly sold a cadaver infected with HIV and Hepatitis to a medical conference, where attendees would have used the body for a cadaver lab.
Rathburn is facing 10 counts related to his business of buying and selling corpses. Part of this story is the fact that the bodies of unborn babies were discovered in his disheveled facility in a raid in 2013. So far, they have gone unmentioned.
Thursday, January 4, was the first day of his trial, including opening statements and testimony from two witnesses. The first witness was an FBI agent who managed the search of Rathburn’s facility, including the finding of the unborn babies.
Prosecutors detailed the macabre results of the search, including bizarre storage methods. For example, severed human heads were all packed together in ice, touching each other. Talking about the unborn babies (stored in a bin with human brain tissue) would have been a perfect example of his shoddy practices, and for a moment it seemed like they might be mentioned, but they remained conspicuously absent.
Why? A theory would be that the photo was disallowed by Judge Paul D. Borman. A day after Reuters leaked photos of the unborn babies, there was a closed hearing in the case to suppress evidence. Where those photos of the babies the subject of that hearing, or part of the hearing?
It may be the case that the babies were stillborn and obtained through legal means, and the only purpose for including them in the trial would be the photos showing his storage methods. Or, it may be the case that Rathburn illegal obtained the babies from an abortion clinic. Federal prosecutors then would have ignored the violation, didn’t have enough evidence to convict him, or focused on other easier aspects of his case. Absent critical evidence, we don’t know yet.
One disturbing aspect is that most of Rathburn’s clients were medical conferences, where attendees would use body parts for cadaver labs. What sort of medical association purchases unborn children to dissect in hotel ballrooms and conference centers?
Any prolifer attending the trial would see a lot of eerie similarities between Rathburn’s business and the abortion industry, particularly Kermit Gosnell:
- Rathburn outwardly appears to be a nondescript business man.
- His wife was a critical part of his business, and will testify against him.
- There was little regulatory oversight of his work.
- There was a gross disregard for human life and sloppy medical practices; many of the body parts strewn across his facility showed ragged cuts on them, undoubtedly made by the chain saws and other shop tools found in his facility.
- Body parts were found in food containers, even in the fridge next to sandwiches.
- A defense attorney excused the state of his facility as the nature of the business, and portrayed Rathburn himself as someone just willing to help people.
- Dog bowls were found in Rathburn’s facility, implying he kept pets in his facility, just as Gosnell had cats wandering around his abortion clinic.
- Gosnell kept pet turtles in his facility, dead turtles were found in Rathburn’s facility.
We’ll continue to cover this story and hope to get to the bottom of the unborn babies after the trial concludes. The trial is expected to run a few weeks.