Charge Dropped Against David Daleiden in Undercover Planned Parenthood Sting

A Harris County judge dismisses misdemeanor charge of attempted procurement of fetal tissue. A felony charge of tampering with government records remains.

By Al Perrotta Published on June 14, 2016

One down, one to go.

A Texas judge has dismissed one of the two charges brought against Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden in connection with his undercover video sting exposing Planned Parenthood’s fetal body part trafficking operation.

“This is a real victory for the pro-life movement,” said Jared Woodfill, one of Daleiden’s attorneys.

Daleiden had been indicted in January by a Harris County grand jury on two counts. On Monday night, Harris County Judge Diane Bull dismissed a misdemeanor charge of attempting to illegally buy human tissue. A similar charge was also dropped against Daleiden’s partner in the sting, Sandra Merritt. A felony charge of tampering with government documents — Daleiden allegedly used a fake ID during his undercover operation — remains. A different judge is hearing that case.

Daleiden has insisted all along that he and the Center for Medical Progress followed all applicable laws and standards of investigative journalism and that the indictments were politically motivated. “The judge’s ruling makes clear that this indictment was fatally flawed and unsubstantiated, directly refuting the DA’s argument,” he told The Stream shortly after the news was announced. “I’m very grateful for the support of everyone who has seen the videos and knows that the real criminals are Planned Parenthood, who must be held accountable under the law for trafficking in tiny aborted baby parts for profit.”

A Suspicious Prosecution

The indictment of Daleiden had been suspicious from the outset. How did a grand jury impaneled to investigate the shocking and demonstrably illegal fetal-body-part-selling activities of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast exposed by the CMP videos end up charging the man responsible for bring those activities to light? It was quickly revealed that a prosecutor in the Harris County D.A.’s office, Lauren Reeder, is a Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast board member. Attorneys for Daleiden would then accuse District Attorney Devon Anderson of colluding with the abortion mill.

Those accusations were confirmed last month, when Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s attorney Josh Schaffer admitted in a sworn declaration that Anderson’s office shared evidence with Planned Parenthood. This despite the Texas Attorney General expressly forbidding the Harris County District Attorney from doing so. Schaffer said under oath he and Assistant District Attorney Sunni Mitchell tried an end-run around the Attorney General’s directive not to share Daleiden’s raw video footage with Planned Parenthood. “I was told that the Attorney General’s Office agreed to give it to the HCDAO on the condition that the HCDAO not give it to PPGC,” Schaffer said. “Mitchell told me that she would try to obtain the footage by other means.”

Today, the Center for Medical Progress is declaring itself vindicated:

Judge Diane Bull’s swift dismissal of the bogus charge against CMP founder David Daleiden of trafficking human organs is the latest confirmation that the indictments from a runaway grand jury in Houston were a politically-motivated sham all along. In finding that the indictment was void on its face, Judge Bull’s ruling directly contradicts the District Attorney’s argument that the indictment was valid despite the DA’s collusion with Planned Parenthood. The dismissal of the first indictment today sends a strong message to Planned Parenthood and their political cronies that colluding to suppress the First Amendment rights of citizen journalists will never work. The Center for Medical Progress follows all applicable laws in the course of its investigative journalism work and as more details about Planned Parenthood’s contracts for aborted baby parts come to light, it’s clear that Planned Parenthood and their business partners like StemExpress are the ones who are guilty of trafficking in human body parts.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, which has been battling on Daleiden’s behalf and co-organized a Houston press conference for Daleiden earlier this year, also praised the judge’s decision. “Although we are thankful a Texas judge dismissed one of the charges against David Daleiden, justice cannot be served until all charges against him are dropped,” he told The Stream. “It was clear from the beginning that Harris County Prosecutor, Devon Anderson, was mounting a ‘political witch hunt’ against Mr. Daleiden based on a partisan agenda.  This was not only an attack on the pro-life community but on the First Amendment and citizen journalism.”

Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen, one of Daleiden’s attorneys, said in a statement that “Harris County prosecutors were in such a rush to criminalize David Daleiden that they did not properly obtain grand jury approval of each of the elements of the charged misdemeanor. All charges against Daleiden and his investigators should be dismissed, based on the evidence that Harris County District Attorney’s prosecutors colluded with Planned Parenthood to secure these indictments.”

Harris County District Attorney’s Office will not appeal the judge’s decision, and will focus on prosecuting the felony charge, KHOU is reporting. A hearing on that charge is set for July.

Keep returning to The Stream as we get more information and reaction to this breaking story.


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