PHILADELPHIA — A jailed Philadelphia abortion doctor will sell his $900,000 beach home if he needs cash to defend himself in a capital murder case but will freeze other assets indefinitely amid a wrongful-death lawsuit, his lawyer said Wednesday.
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A Virginia family sued Dr. Kermit Gosnell over their mother’s death from a botched abortion in 2009, just months after the woman arrived in the U.S. from a refugee camp.
The family had sought to have Gosnell’s assets frozen so that any judgment could be paid, and Gosnell and his wife have agreed not sell any of the seven properties they own in Philadelphia.
Gosnell, 70, was not in court Wednesday because he is being held without bail, charged with eight counts of murder.
In January, prosecutors charged him in the death of patient Karnamaya Mongar, 41, and the deaths of seven viable babies allegedly killed with scissors after being born alive. His wife and eight other employees of the now-shuttered clinic are also charged with crimes.
Authorities believe Gosnell made millions of dollars over the years from a clinic they described as a filthy “house of horrors” that dispensed pills by day and performed abortions – often illegal, late-term abortions – on nights and weekends. The clinic went largely unregulated for more than a decade by state officials who failed to investigate repeated complaints, a grand jury found.
Mongar and her family had fled Bhutan and spent 18 years in refugee camps, mostly in Nepal. Months after arriving in the United States, she was referred to Gosnell by a Virginia clinic that did not perform second-trimester abortions.
According to the grand jury, unlicensed staff members gave Mongar, who was 4 feet, 11 inches tall and weighed 110 pounds, far too much anesthesia in the hours before Gosnell arrived to perform the abortion.
Mongar’s daughter, Yashoda Gurung, had accompanied her mother inside the clinic. She is now administering her mother’s estate.
“It is still agony because of the loss, because she was the matriarch of the family,” said Bernard Smalley, the family’s lawyer.
Gurung, 23, now cares for her own children and her younger brother in northern Virginia while Mongar’s husband works in a chicken plant in West Virginia.
The family didn’t know about the problems at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society until they were called to testify before the grand jury, Smalley said.
“They had no idea. They would have no reason to know that it was as extensive as it turned out to be,” he said.
The clinic, after three decades in business, was shut down within three months of Mongar’s death, after federal drug agents investigating the high-volume painkiller business made gruesome discoveries in the abortion rooms. They found fetal remains mixed among staff lunches in the office refrigerator, jars containing the feet of aborted fetuses and other unsanitary or disturbing practices.
Defense lawyer Jack McMahon told the judge Wednesday that Gosnell had no intention of selling his assets or transferring them to family members, including his six children, most of them adults. The youngest child, 13, is living with neighbors while her parents are in jail.
The doctor’s wife, Pearl, is charged with performing illegal abortions and other counts. Four of the eight other clinic workers are charged with murder.
The couple’s real estate holdings include their home near the Philadelphia Zoo, the nearby clinic and rental properties, authorities said.
“There’s been no showing my client is attempting to dissipate his assets … to avoid a judgment,” McMahon said.
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