A California judge has thrown out five felony counts against an undercover journalist and activist who exposed Planned Parenthood’s sale of organs from unborn children who had been the victims of abortion
In 2015, David Daleiden, founder of the pro-life Center for Medical Progress, released undercover videos of Planned Parenthood executives talking about the sale of fetal tissue and organs. As a result, he and fellow activist Sandra Merritt faced charges of criminal eavesdropping and conspiring to invade the privacy of those they recorded.
The Center for Medical Progress investigation alleged Planned Parenthood was making a profit from the sale of tissue and other body parts of aborted children. Planned Parenthood never acknowledged wrongdoing, but discontinued the practice of selling organs and tissue from aborted babies in 2018.
“The Court finds that based on the specific factual findings as to each of these counts that there is an absence of probable cause to establish that these conversations were ‘confidential communications’ as defined by the statute,” Judge Christopher Hite wrote in a ruling made public Friday, according to Fox News.
Hite did not drop numerous other criminal charges in the case, according to Fox.
Although still facing charges, Deleiden said the ruling was a victory, according to the Courthouse News Service.
“The remaining charges under the California video recording law – the first and only time it has ever been used against undercover news gatherers – will fall for the same reasons that five charges were dismissed today: these were public conversations easily overheard by third parties,” he said in a statement.
Fox reported that Deleiden also took a jab at Sen. Kamala Harris, the former California attorney general who was still in that job when the prosecution of Deleiden and Merritt began.
“Former California Attorney General Kamala Harris concocted this bogus, biased prosecution with her Planned Parenthood backers against undercover video reporting, and now their case is falling apart as the facts about Planned Parenthood’s criminal organ trafficking are revealed in the courtroom,” he said, according to Fox.
“The real criminals are the Planned Parenthood leadership who sold fetal body parts from late-term abortions and weaponized the justice system to try to cover it up,” he said.
⚖️ BREAKING: Bogus political prosecution of undercover video reporting, brought by failed presidential candidate @KamalaHarris to save @PPFA is falling apart. Unsupported by facts and law. The real criminals are fetal organ traffickers at @PPFA @NatAbortionFed #PPSellsBabyParts
— David Daleiden (@daviddaleiden) December 6, 2019
Peter Breen, an attorney representing Daleiden and vice president of the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit law firm, said he expects the remaining charges against Daleiden will wither as the case moves forward.
“As to the remaining counts, we have strong defenses that we intend to vigorously pursue on appeal, until every last one of these specious felony charges are thrown out of court,” Breen said in a statement to The Daily Wire. “Mr. Daleiden followed the same commonly accepted practices, including videotaping in public places, as other undercover journalists.
In 2016, a Harris County, Texas, grand jury indicted Daleiden and Merritt in relation to the undercover videos, but all those charges were eventually dismissed, according to LifeSiteNews.
“David Daleiden is being charged as a criminal for openly delivering information that the public has a right to know, information that the abortion lobby and its financially supported elected officials would rather keep hidden. This prosecution by the State of California is an abuse of the justice system, and we are confident that, in the end, we will totally vindicate David,” the statement said.
Merritt is represented by Liberty Counsel, another non-profit law firm.
“We are glad that this unprecedented political prosecution is being dismissed, piece-by-piece. No journalist has ever been charged for investigative reporting,” Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, according to CBN.
“The attorney general is allowing politics to drive him rather than the rule of law,” Staver said, referring to current California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
“We are confident that Sandra Merritt did nothing wrong and we will continue to fight to exonerate her on all charges.”
The ruling ended the preliminary hearing phase of the trial, which will resume in January.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.