Pipeline opponents facing charges now headed to court

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) This week will bring another round of court cases related to Mountain Valley Pipeline protests.

The first was Monday afternoon in Roanoke federal court.

Freeda Cathcart was arrested at the site of the Giles County monopod in April. She was charged with violating a Forest Service order closing the area around the protest site, and with resisting arrest.

Cathcart pleaded guilty to the first charge. The second was dropped. And she was fined $150.

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment after the hearing.

"It was hard for me to believe there was law enforcement that wouldn't give food and water to the tree sitters and the monopod," Cathcart said after the hearing. "When I heard that, I decided to go down there and check out what was actually happening."

"Unfortunately she got up there and there were a couple of misunderstandings which led to why she's in court here today," said her attorney Tom Bondurant. "I believe the resolution is an accurate resolution, we don't believe she intentionally tried to mislead anybody."

Cathcart was a member of the Virginia Board of Pharmacy at the time, and the prosecutor said federal officials were disappointed she used a state-issued ID in an effort to gain access to the protest site.

Cathcart said that was a misunderstanding. and she was simply using the card for identification. She said she was not trying to suggest she was there as a representative of state government.

More pipeline opponents are due in federal court later this week, and in state court next month.

Monday evening, pipeline opponents formed a prayer circle at the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial in Roanoke. They were there, in part, to support the defendants in the pipeline protest cases.