Although he faces legal challenges in two states over his undercover investigation into Planned Parenthood, Center for Medical Progress (CMP) director David Daleiden told supporters he remains confident in his eventual exoneration.
After releasing a new undercover video Feb. 2, Daleiden held a webcast with three of his attorneys to update the cases against him in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.
“Planned Parenthood is lashing out because the baby parts issue could take them down,” Daleiden said. He and other CMP investigators face jail time and stiff fines stemming from criminal charges and civil lawsuits.
Screenshot from C-Span and the Washington Journal
On Aug. 21, overturning an earlier emergency injunction, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge allowed CMP to release undercover footage of Daleiden’s meeting with representatives from fetal tissue broker StemExpress. Despite that favorable ruling, Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, said during the webcast the case against CMP has not gone away. StemExpress is suing Daleiden and CMP employee Sandra Merritt for invasion of privacy, even though the conversation took place in a restaurant.
LiMandri also said exceptions to California’s prohibition against recording without consent of all parties include cases motivated by one party’s intent “to protect a person from violence.” A baby born alive after an abortion and then killed and dissected for his or her tissue and organs meets this standard, LiMandri argued.
According to testimony submitted in the StemExpress case by Theresa Deisher, a bio-tech firm president and patent-holding adult stem cell researcher, “several scientific articles” report cases where “an apparatus is hooked up to the [aborted baby’s] heart to keep it alive and beating.” For optimal use, certain tissues must be harvested no more than five minutes after death. Evidence from CMP videos indicated to Deisher it is “practically certain” some babies whose cadavers StemExpress trafficked had been kept alive after they were aborted. Daleiden and CMP therefore “had a reasonable belief that StemExpress has committed a felony involving violence against [a] person,” Deisher said in her statement.
The Los Angeles Superior Court has yet to indicate when it will rule on the invasion of privacy lawsuit.
As WORLD reported previously, Daleiden and CMP also face lawsuits in northern California. On Jan. 14, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and seven California affiliates filed a lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court against CMP investigators, alleging racketeering, invasion of privacy and other illegal activity. During the webcast, Catherine Short, vice president of legal affairs for the Life Legal Defense Fund, noted this lawsuit “stopped short of bringing a defamation claim” or charges of lying against CMP. Short added that a July 31 lawsuit brought by the National Abortion Federation (NAF), also filed in San Francisco, continues to block release of some NAF conference video footage as yet unseen by the public.
But Feb. 2, CMP released a new undercover video of “previously overlooked” material apparently filmed in April at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s (PPGC) abortion center in Houston. In the video, the center’s director of research, Melissa Farrell, describes “two levels of invoicing” for sales of aborted babies’ tissue and organs, including “brain, kidney, thymus, liver, spleen, femur.” Farrell states her affiliate would charge “per consent” (per abortion) but also levy an “overall administrative fee.” Her department’s practice “contributes so much to the bottom line of our organization,” Farrell said in the video. But, according to Daleiden that violates a Texas law that prohibits the buying and selling of human organs for “valuable consideration.”
On Jan. 25, a Houston-area grand jury overlooked evidence against PPGC and instead brought indictments against Daleiden and Merritt for allegedly tampering with a government record and offering to buy or sell human organs. But Peter Breen, a member of the Illinois General Assembly and special counsel for the Thomas More Society, called the charges “baseless.” During the webcast, Breen noted journalists have often misrepresented their identities during investigations of alleged criminal activity. He pointed to a 60 Minutes story aired recently in which an undercover investigator used hidden cameras to make secret recordings of New York lawyers who were possibly “concealing questionable funds.”
Daleiden surrendered Feb. 4, posted $3,000 bond and made two court appearances. Merritt turned herself in Feb. 3. She was booked and released on a $2,000 bond. Merritt has been offered probation in a settlement, but her attorneys had not indicated if she would take the deal.
Breen said he would file a motion Feb. 4, when Daleiden and Merritt turn themselves in at the Harris County courthouse, to quash the charges.
The state of Texas is still considering criminal charges against PPGC officials. Daleiden’s next hearing is slated for March 28.