Modified release for Naples man charged in Jan. 6 insurrection called 'denial' of civil rights
Editor's note: This story has been updated to provide more details about Worrell’s injuries while in federal custody.
Changes to the conditions for release for an East Naples man charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection are being called a "gross denial of civil rights" by the person responsible for his custody.
Christopher John Worrell, 50, was taken into federal custody after FBI agents executed a search and arrest warrant at his Collier County home on March 12. Worrell, a member of the Proud Boys, is accused of attacking police officers with a pepper spray gel.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Authorities released him from jail in November, citing medical conditions and the need for specialized treat. His release came with conditions such as home detention and approval in advance for doctor appointments.
Worrell's medical conditions include non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, major dental issues and treatment for a hand he said was broken and not cared for properly while he was in federal detention in Washington, D.C.
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On Dec. 15, Worrell filed a motion with the courts to modify the conditions, including seeking the ability to schedule or change doctor appointments without having to obtain approval in advance from court officials.
A couple weeks later, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth agreed to some modifications, but not the changes Worrell specifically requested.
Naples resident Trish Priller, responsible by court order for Worrell’s custody while on release and living in Naples, said the only thing that the revised motion did was add restrictions.
"This is truly disgusting what they are doing," she said. "This is a gross denial of civil rights and due process."
Christopher Worrell is one of 727 people who have faced charges
Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, and Worrell is one of 727 people who have faced charges. Of those, 151 have entered guilty pleas for their actions in the riot.
Another Floridian, Largo business owner Robert Palmer, faced U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Dec. 17 and received more than five years in prison.
As part of the order, Worrell was placed on home detention and restricted to his home at all times except for employment, education, religious services, medical, substance abuse or mental health treatment, attorney visits, court ordered obligations or other activities approved in advance. Any changes in pre-approved appointments must get court approval.
Worrell, who must wear a GPS location monitor, would be subject to arrest for violating any part of the conditions.
In the request for changes to the release conditions, Worrell's attorney, Alex Reed Stavrou Sr., of Tampa, took issue with the advance notification needed for doctors appointments.
"This requirement for an advanced weekly schedule has caused significant hardship in his ability to receive medical care for several reasons. First, Mr. Worrell cannot follow through with treatment recommendations, immediate follow-ups, and referrals as he is unable to schedule appointments and referrals unless they are weeks in advance. Second, pre-trial services, in their manner of strict compliance, does not allow deviation from the schedule, and Mr. Worrell cannot call or correspond and request immediate scheduling changes for any reason. Third, pre-trial services require confirmation from medical providers of the scheduling of these medical matters. The medical providers are often extremely reluctant to provide confirmation of the same, and if the provider fails to separately confirm, Mr. Worrell is not permitted to attend the appointments."
Priller said the the new conditions were even more limiting.
“They only changed the time he is allowed out which further restricted him," she said.
Previously, for the last five weeks, Worrell was allowed outside until 10 p.m. or after, she said, and now he must be inside the house by 7 p.m.
"They did nothing more than change the wording to read the exact same thing, meaning Chris still has to submit a weekly schedule for approval before he can go to any doctor appointment," Priller said.
It's been difficult even getting in to see a doctor, Priller said. Worrell "finally" had his first oncologist appointment 54 days after returning home, she said.
"The restrictions have obviously made it very difficult. One of the rules is the doctor must send an email to his pretrial services officer to get approval to go to an appointment," she said. "This has also caused Chris to have to get a new doctor as his previous oncologist would not email anyone other than the patient."
In various court documents Worrell claims medical issues affecting him including broken hand bones, dental issues and cancer, have been untreated despite multiple court-documented promises.
Court records show Worrell broke his hand while in the D.C. jail May 16 when he slipped and tried to break his fall with his right hand. Court documents said doctors who saw him recommended surgery in June but he was instead treated with a splint and medications such as Tylenol.
As of Jan. 3, Worrell still had not had the surgery.
Worrell has also been diagnosed with a form of cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Court records also reflect a lack a treatment while in custody for that condition.
Priller explained Worrell's issues:
"Chris has no medical insurance and his meds alone cost $50,000. That’s without the other meds needed to go along with it and also does not cover the doctors and nurses.
"As of 1/3/22 Chris has still not had treatment for his cancer. The restrictions they have Chris on do not allow for immediate doctor appointments as they have to be scheduled and approved by pretrial services. "
Priller said Worrell's dental issues also include teeth he said were broken when he fell. Priller said the fall came after Worrell said he passed out by his cell, something she said he has done several times.
"Chris also has a bad abscess in his jaw and hasn't been able to get to the oral surgeon after seeing the dentist two weeks ago for the same reasons above," Priller said. "Chris thinks he broke his lower left molar when he fell as the issue showed up a short time later. They did nothing more than give him Tylenol."
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, overseeing the case, had summoned D.C. jail officials to court in October. Worrell had been recommended for surgery in June but still hadn’t undergone the procedure as of mid-October, in part due to a delay by jail officials in turning over medical documents.
He is barred from contact with people or organizations involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection, from direct or indirect contact with the news media without prior court approval and from making public comments without prior court approval.
Social media posts have shown Worrell in and around Naples, attending a movie and making a visit to a doctor's office.
His next court date is a status conference in March.
Connect with breaking news reporter Michael Braun: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook), @MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) or firstname.lastname@example.org.