Occupy protester's miscarriage claim questioned
Jennifer M. Fox's claim that abuse by Seattle police caused her miscarriage has become a viral Internet sensation of the Occupy movement, but no evidence has emerged to support the allegation.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A Seattle teenager's claim that abuse by Seattle police caused her to miscarry has become a viral Internet sensation of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but no evidence has emerged to support her allegation.
Jennifer M. Fox, 19, has accused police of kicking her and hitting her in the stomach with a bicycle during a Nov. 15 Occupy Seattle protest, even after she yelled: "I'm pregnant," then dousing her with pepper spray. A viral video shows her reeling from the pepper spray, but not being struck.
Fox has declined to provide medical records supporting her claim that she had a miscarriage five days after being hit, and her family has cast doubt on the claim.
But Seattle police have launched an internal investigation because of the "seriousness of her allegations," spokesman Mark Jamieson said.
"Their goal is to find any — any — info that supports her claims," he said. "You have to take her word."
In an interview Tuesday at the Occupy Seattle encampment on Capitol Hill, Fox said she had three ultrasound pictures of her fetus in her tent, but declined to show them to reporters.
She also said she did not plan to pick up medical records at Harborview Medical Center that could document the miscarriage until after a planned memorial service Saturday, and she declined to sign a waiver allowing reporters to obtain the documents independently. She said the baby was a girl, to be named Miracle.
"I have some stuff to do today," said Fox, who described herself as a homeless former foster child. "I have to get some stuff done."
Fox's former foster mother, Lark Stebbins, said Fox called her from Harborview after one recent protest but did not mention she was pregnant.
Stebbins said Fox, whom she parented for 10 years, has a pattern of exaggeration. "My daughter is a compulsive liar," Stebbins said. "She's a wannabe drama queen."
Stebbins' older daughter echoed the statements in a separate interview.
"I seriously doubt, that if she is claiming she had a miscarriage, that she was even pregnant," said Nicole Botes, who has known Fox for a decade. "I'd like to see actual medical reports."
Fox's allegations, first reported by The Stranger, were widely disseminated by media, including The Washington Post, as part of a growing concern about an overly aggressive police response to Occupy protests, including those in Seattle last week.
Those protests were marred by the use of pepper spray against 84-year-old Dorli Rainey. An image of Rainey's face became an Internet phenomenon, and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn apologized to her.
Fox has conducted several interviews with local and national media, and said she plans to consult an attorney.
She said she learned the sex of her fetus about 10 weeks into her pregnancy via an ultrasound test, although gender typically is not detected via ultrasound until the 16th week of pregnancy, according to a medical journal. Fox said the baby's father is in jail.
In September, Fox told police she was three months pregnant when officers confronted her and five others on a criminal-trespass complaint at a Seattle City Light facility, according to a police report obtained by KIRO-FM. The report described Fox as crying and clutching her stomach at the scene before being transported to Harborview.
When confronted by a KIRO reporter on Tuesday, Fox said police must have misheard her saying she was one month pregnant.
In an interview with The Seattle Times, Fox said Harborview medical staff, whom she could not name, described the fetus as healthy during treatment after the Nov. 15 protest.
Fox said she began cramping late Saturday and was taken by ambulance to Harborview on Sunday, when medical staff said no fetal heartbeat was detected.
"They said [pepper spray] caused a little bit of damage for the heart, but the kick and bike caused damage to the body," Fox said.
"I cried a lot. I wanted to have a kid," she added. "But things happen for a reason. Yeah, I lost a kid, but this makes me stronger."
Jonathan Martin: 206-464-2605
On Twitter @jmartin206.
Information in a photo caption on the seattletimes.com home page, originally published at 8:45 a.m. on Nov. 23, 2011, was corrected at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 23, 2011. A previous version of the caption incorrectly stated the Occupy Seattle encampment was at South Seattle Community College. The encampment is at Seattle Central Community College.
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