Ashland man settles protester's claim against him

An Ashland man being sued for more than $1 million settled the case stemming from his alleged assault of a California-based Code Pink activist who staged an interruption during a May 2011 speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Stanley A. Shulster, 73, a former lawyer who lives on Pilot View Road and is a lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, formally apologized and paid an undisclosed sum to Rachel T. Abileah, 29, of El Granada, Calif.

In a statement from both parties, Shulster maintains that he did not assault Abileah.

Abileah declined to reveal the exact amount she was compensated.

"Definitely it was more than I had expected to get," Abileah said. "I still have pain in my neck and reoccurring headaches."

In her complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Abileah requests no less than $500,000 for compensatory and consequential damages caused by the defendant, and $500,000 for punitive damages. Also, she requests compensation of costs for filing and pursuing the lawsuit.

The settlement was reached on July 10, Abileah's Washington, D.C., attorney Lynne Bernabei said.

Abileah, who is the Jewish daughter of an Israeli, alleged that after Shulster pulled her down, he put his hand over her mouth and violently pulled her head back, injuring her neck.

Sitting in front of Shulster, Abileah waved a banner that read, "Occupying land is indefensible" and yelled, "No more occupation, stop Israeli war crimes, equal rights for Palestinians." Shulster attempted to grab the banner out of her hands.

"I wouldn't let go, and that's when things started to get violent," Abileah said. "He grabbed my wrist and pulled me to the ground."

Her action was part of Code Pink's "Move over AIPAC" demonstrations during the conference.

After the May 24 incident, physicians recommended that Abileah stay home and rest for about two weeks because of her injuries, according to the complaint.

"One thing I think that is so good about what this case represents is Code Pink are nonviolent protesters ... one of the things that frequently happens is their nonviolent protest is met with violence, and unjustified violence," Bernabei said. "This is one case where we had a good resolution."

"Each party recognizes the right, as Americans, to agree to disagree peacefully," the joint statement from both parties states.

— Sam Wheeler

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