Copyright (c) 2016 Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. The original story can be found at http://www.bpnews.net/47287/felony-charges-dropped-over-baby-body-parts-videos
HOUSTON (BP) — All criminal charges have been dismissed against two investigators who posed as procurers of aborted baby body parts in undercover videos of interactions with Planned Parenthood executives.
David Daleiden (center), with attorneys Peter Breen (left) and Jared Woodfill, exits the Harris County Courthouse after charges were dropped against the Center for Medical Progress founder in his investigation of Planned Parenthood. Photo by Bonnie Pritchett/Southern Baptist TEXAN The Harris County District Attorney’s office in Houston dropped charges today (July 26) against Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden and his CMP coworker Sandra Merritt, who had sought to show in secretly recorded videos that Planned Parenthood illegally profits from the sale of aborted baby tissue.
Daleiden and Merritt had been charged with tampering with a governmental record by using false identifications to enter Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, based in Houston, and faced up to 20 years in prison for the felony. But prosecutors dropped the charges in advance of a 9 a.m. hearing when attorneys for Daleiden and Merritt had planned to submit a motion to dismiss the accusations.
CMP said on its website today: “The dismissal of the bogus, politically motivated charges … is a resounding vindication of the First Amendment rights of all citizen journalists, and also a clear warning to any of Planned Parenthood’s political cronies who would attack whistleblowers to protect Planned Parenthood from scrutiny.”
Planned Parenthood “tried to collude with public officials to manipulate the legal process to their own benefit, and they failed,” CMP said.
Separate misdemeanor charges of attempting to purchase human organs were dismissed June 14. Daleiden and CMP continue to face federal racketeering lawsuits filed by the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and Planned Parenthood under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
The Harris County charges were filed in January, months after CMP released videos garnered from a 30-month investigation into Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program.
The release of the videos resulted in a national outcry and congressional hearings regarding Planned Parenthood’s handling of aborted babies. Federal law prohibits the sale of aborted fetal issue for profit, allowing compensation only for the cost of transporting such tissue to research facilities, according to news reports.
Attorneys for 27-year-old Daleiden and Merritt, 62, said the indictments against the pair were bogus.
Peter Breen, a Thomas More Society attorney who represented Daleiden, told Life Site News that the “meritless and retaliatory prosecution should never have been brought. Planned Parenthood did wrong here, not David Daleiden.”
Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver, Merritt’s attorney, said in a press release, “We celebrate this victory for Sandra Merritt as she did nothing wrong. She exposed the sale of baby body parts by Planned Parenthood and today she has been vindicated.” The indictment “was politically-motivated and should never have been filed in the first place.”
CMP stands by its undercover videos as proof of Planned Parenthood wrongdoing.
“A year after the release of the undercover videos, the ongoing nationwide investigation of Planned Parenthood by the House Select Investigative Panel makes clear that Planned Parenthood is the guilty party in the harvesting and trafficking of baby body parts for profit,” CMP said.
A Harris County grand jury’s investigation led to indictments against Daleiden and Merritt, but Planned Parenthood has not been charged with a crime. Instead, official investigations conducted in more than 10 states, including Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Missouri and Michigan, resulted in no criminal findings against the abortion provider, National Public Radio has reported.