Legal Battles

Misdemeanor Charge Dropped Against Baby Parts Video Maker Daleiden

One of the minor charges against David Daleiden, the self-proclaimed investigative journalist who secretly filmed Planned Parenthood clinics and officials across the country, has been dropped. Late Monday, Harris County Judge Diane Bull ruled that the indictment against Daleiden for attempting to buy or sell fetal tissue, a misdemeanor, should be thrown out.

Last summer, Daleiden and his partner with the Center for Medical Progress, Sandra Merritt, used fake identification and a phony corporation to gain access to a Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast facility. Once there, they consulted with staff at the clinic about potential fetal tissue donation and recorded the discussion on a hidden camera. Eventually, the videos were "substantially manipulated" according to forensic video experts, and posted online as evidence that Planned Parenthood was profiting from the sale of parts of aborted fetuses. 

The videos prompted swift reactions from opportunistic pro-life politicians across the United States. In Texas, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick prodded the Harris County District Attorney to investigate the video filmed in Houston. Patrick's gambit backfired spectacularly when a grand jury indicted Daleiden and Merritt.

The duo were both charged with tampering with a government record, a felony, and Daleiden was separately rung up on the fetal tissue charged.

Tuesday, he claimed that Bull's ruling was a vindication of his claims that the Harris County District Attorney's office improperly colluded with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

"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," Daleiden said in a self-referential statement.
 Devon Anderson, the Harris County District Attorney, said Tuesday that her office will not fight the dismissal of the misdemeanor charge and will focus instead on prosecuting Daleiden in the felony case.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young