URBANA – A Prophetstown man accused of trying to burn down a future Danville reproductive health clinic where he said abortions would be performed told a federal court judge on Thursday that he intends to represent himself.
Philip J. Buyno, who made his initial appearance in U.S. Central District Court, will be held in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service until a detention hearing on Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long ruled.
Long appointed Sharbel Rantisi, an attorney with the Criminal Justice Act panel, to represent Buyno for the time being. The CJA represents federal defendants accused of serious crimes who cannot afford to hire their own attorneys.
Buyno, 73, is charged with attempted arson and faces five to 20 years in prison.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Buyno told investigators he was a member of an anti-abortion “rescue group,” the purpose of which was to prevent abortion clinics from being established. He backed into the entrance of the future clinic several times with his car, which was filled with containers of gasoline, and with wood and old tires that he intended to use to fuel the fire,
His effort, which was caught on video surveillance cameras, failed when he became trapped inside the car, and police, responding to a building alarm, arrested him around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, May 20.
Buyno was to appear in court on Tuesday, but did not because of an unspecified “medical event.”
The building was being remodeled for a reproductive health clinic set to open later this year.
Buyno told investigators that he was active in the anti-abortion movement in the 1980s and ‘90s, and rejoined the movement four years ago, after he retired, the affidavit said.
He also said that “if I could sneak in with a gas can and a match, I’d go there again,” and that if he is released from jail, he’ll go back and finish the job, it said.
Danville is near the Illinois-Indiana border, and residents from both states are expected to use the clinic, which city officials have said will be performing abortions.
The building is owned by Indianapolis-based McGhee Investment Group, which is associated with the Indianapolis Clinic for Women, which does provide abortion services.