Grand Jury Indicts Creators Of Smear Videos, Clears Planned Parenthood Of Wrongdoing
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A grand jury in Harris County, Texas indicted the Center for Medical Progress' founder David Daleiden and associate Sandra Merritt on January 25 for "tampering with a governmental record," a felony, and Daleiden was also indicted for "illegally offer[ing] to purchase human organs" in a video recording he used to falsely accuse the group of illegally selling fetal tissue for profit. The grand jury was investigating based on CMP's allegations, but found no evidence of misconduct by Planned Parenthood.
CMP is the anti-choice group that targeted Planned Parenthood with a smear campaign using undercover actors, including Daleiden and Merritt, who posed as fetal tissue procurement salespeople in order to unsuccessfully induce Planned Parenthood officials across the country into illegal agreements to sell fetal tissue. CMP has released deceptively-edited videos of the encounters accusing Planned Parenthood of wrong-doing. On August 4, CMP released a video featuring secretly-recorded footage of officials from Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast with key context of the conversations omitted from this CMP-released version, which debunked CMP's claims.
The Harris County, Texas grand jury has now cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of "breaking the law" in allegations stemming from CMP's videos.
On January 14, Planned Parenthood named Daleiden and Merritt, along with three other individuals, as defendants in a federal lawsuit which alleges CMP and some members of its leadership engaged in a conspiracy against PPFA and broke numerous federal and state laws.
The news broke just hours after USA Today published an op-ed in which Daleiden claimed that "Planned Parenthood's senior leadership part[ook] in a widespread and organized violation of state and federal laws" that had triggered "multiple state and federal investigations." The Harris County grand jury joins the list of federal and state investigations that have cleared of Planned Parenthood of wrong-doing.
From Houston Public Media:
A Harris County grand jury today decided not to take any action against Planned Parenthood in Houston. But two people who used undercover videos accusing the group of selling fetal tissue have been indicted.
The sting videos recorded last April alleged that Planned Parenthood illegally profited from donations of fetal tissue. The Harris County District Attorney's Office investigated those allegations for more than two months, along with the Texas Rangers and the Houston Police Department.
In the end, a grand jury has cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of breaking the law.
Both David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been indicted for Tampering with a Governmental Record, which is a felony. Daleidan was also indicted for Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs, meaning he illegally offered to purchase human organs in the video recording. A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
"We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast," said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson. "As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."