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What Do You Say to the Man Who Gave You an Abortion Against Your Will?

Joshua Woodward, the restaurateur behind Burger Bar, slipped his pregnant girlfriend abortion pills without her knowledge over the course of several weeks in 2009. Woodward's victim confronted him in court this week.

by Matthew Tinoco
Jan 31 2016, 7:30pm

Screengrab of Joshua Woodward via KTLA

A greasy, grey-haired Joshua Woodward, 43, the restaurateur behind Burger Bar and the now defunct Table 8, obediently scooted around the Los Angeles County Criminal courtroom at his petite lawyer's behest, on Friday morning. Though large in stature, the man moves with the motions of a small child who knows he's about to get a very long time-out.

Hands fiddling and lips pursed, Woodward stares forward, deadpan, undoubtedly realizing that these are the last moments he has before he is sentenced to nine years in state prison. Last November, Woodward pleaded no contest to four counts of attempted murder. In 2009, Woodward administered the drug Misoprostol, colloquially known as an abortion pill, to his girlfriend, Gail Greaves, multiple times without her knowledge while she was pregnant with the couple's child. Greaves eventually miscarried.

Though the Los Angeles District Attorney originally wanted a life sentence for Woodward, the no-contest plea bargain reduced the term to nine years. Woodward has spent the last six years out on a $4 million dollar bond.

Before the judge can sentence Woodward, Greaves will make a victim's statement, as is her right under California state law. Greaves approaches the lectern tilted directly towards Woodward. Her checkered, form-fitting dress brushes gently around her knees as she adjusts herself and gets ready to speak.

She begins, voice cracking first before becoming steady and strong.

"Do you not understand that you are a textbook psychopath?" she asks. "Do you really not understand what you've done to me?"

Greaves pauses, looking down at her statement handwritten across a few pages of computer paper. "While I was Googling 'Should I vaccinate my child?' 'What are the good schools?' 'Should I buy organic foods?' 'Should I take the flu shot?' all of the stuff you'd want to know for the safety of your baby and yourself, you were searching for how to use chloroform to knock me out, and different ways to drug me."

Woodward stares forward blankly, seemingly unmoved by Greaves' words.

"And I can see you sitting there now with no remorse. You're a sick, sick individual and you're disgusting," she spits. "And the fact that you were engaged, and then went off and married another woman and had a baby? You can have whatever you want but no one else. You're disgusting."

During their six-year affair, Woodward was engaged to another woman. After the miscarriage, he proceeded to marry his fiancée Suzy Buckley. Woodward and Buckley initially broke up following the attempted murder charges in 2009 but reconciled and married in August of 2012. The two had their first child in 2014 while Woodward was out on bond.

Greaves looks back briefly to where Woodward's parents sit.

"I hope you can find the truth within your heart and your soul, and just be honest. And I've never ever done anything for you but be an amazing friend to you. And you know that. You know that."

Her statement ends abruptly, as if she cut it short. The courtroom is silent. Filled to capacity, the local media and family members of Woodward and Greaves alike exchange quick glances and exhale a collective sigh. The judge says "thank you," and she walks back to her seat, her head shaking and lower lip quivering.

Woodward and Buckley via Getty Images

Starting in the fall of 2009, Woodward drugged Greaves several times. Greaves had a miscarriage on October 18 of that year. Although the court was unable to officially tie the miscarriage to Woodward's Misoprostol, the miscarriage occurred after multiple instances of Woodward administering it to Greaves without her knowledge.

At the time, Woodward lived the jetsetter's lifestyle of a celebrity restaurateur, flying on a private jet between Los Angeles and Chicago, New York and Miami with regularity.

According to court records and preliminary trial testimony, Woodward and Greaves had known each for 10 years and were sleeping together for six of those years. In August of 2009, Woodward visited Greaves in Los Angeles and she told him she was pregnant with his child. Woodward became angry and immediately demanded she abort the baby. He offered to pay for the procedure.

Greaves refused, and Woodward left Los Angeles to Miami. At the time, Greaves allegedly told Woodward she had no desire to seek child-support from him. Yet, whether out of doubt or malice, Woodward began to search for ways he could end the pregnancy without Greaves' knowledge.

In the following days, according to court documents, Woodward searched the internet for:"ways men have forced abortions," "drugs that induce miscariages [sic]," and "evil ways to terminate a pregnancy." By August 28, Woodward zeroed in on the drug Misoprostol, searching out how to obtain the drug without a prescription and under-the-table.

Woodward returned to Los Angeles briefly a few weeks later, where he met Greaves and asked her once again to have an abortion. He told her she could take a pill in lieu of having a surgical procedure. Greaves disagreed, wanting to keep the baby. The couple fought, broke up, and Woodward left Los Angeles again.

The prosecution alleges that during a visit in early fall, sometime in late September or early October, Woodward first attempted to drug Greaves during a meeting. According to court documents, Woodward allegedly spiked one of Greaves' drinks, as well as some refrigerator food, with Misoprostol while he was in her home. Greaves, who was approximately 10 to 15 weeks pregnant, suffered symptoms consistent with the drug's effects following Woodward's visit, but did not miscarry.

Disappointed, Woodward took to the Internet again, seeking out ways to administer the drug vaginally. He found that if administered as a powder, rubbed throughout the vagina, the drug could be more effective.

Woodward returned to Los Angeles around October 14 and told Greaves that he had changed his mind and wanted to be involved with the baby. According to a police investigation, Woodward told Greaves that he'd simply been caught off guard and scared by the baby. On the night of Friday, October 16, he spent the night at Greaves' home. The couple didn't have sex that night but, per the court case, the two engaged in foreplay, with Woodward stimulating Greaves with his fingers. Greaves noticed that he reached repeatedly into a backpack sitting close to the bed, though when asked, he dismissed it as just checking his phone. The same sort of scenario repeated Saturday and Sunday morning, though Woodward later graduated to coating his penis with a substance unknown to Greaves before the two had sex. Woodward left Greaves around 6:45 in the morning on Sunday October 18.

When administered, Misoprostol induces labor irrespective of a pregnancy's term. Four hours after ingestion, the cervix begins to prepare for birth. Uterine contractions, manifesting as severe cramps, follow a short while later. And if the drug works as it is supposed to, it induces the body to have a miscarriage as severe bleeding or the expulsion of a fetus depending on the pregnancy's term.

This is what happened to Gail Greaves over the course of that particular day. At around 9 P.M., she began bleeding and rushed to the bathroom. After more cramping, a rush of water seeped out of her and into the toilet, followed shortly by a second trimester fetus.

While Greaves initially thought she had miscarried, she quickly became suspicious when she discovered white powder in her underwear from the previous few days. She contacted LAPD who, through an expedient investigation, determined the white powder Greaves discovered was the drug Misoprostol.

Woodward texted Greaves a few days afterwards to ask how she was feeling. Greaves, advised by LAPD, told him she was feeling fine, and Woodward asked if he could come see her again later that week. She said yes.

When he arrived, LAPD officers armed with a search warrant met him instead. Confronted, Greaves dropped a small cellophane bag of white powder by his foot, quickly claiming it did not belong to him. Lab tests later confirmed the bag was filled with powdered Misoprostol, and more of the drug was found on Woodward's person, in his belongings, and at his restaurant on Melrose Avenue.

According to court documents, an LAPD investigator found through speaking with Greaves' doctor there was less than a 1 percent chance she had a naturally occurring miscarriage. Another doctor agreed that Greaves' symptoms were the result of Misoprostol, not a miscarriage.

"He researched the drug. He found and obtained the drug. He determined how to use it, what dosages to give, and when to use it. And he used it, unfortunately for Ms. Greaves," District Attorney Habib Balian said to press after Woodward was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom. "We are extremely pleased to bring closure to this victim for this horrific crime."

It's expected that Woodward will serve 85 percent of his nine-year sentence.

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