A California judge with ties to Planned Parenthood told a jury this week that David Daleiden is guilty of trespassing.
The statement from Judge William Orrick came at the conclusion of a month-long trial against Daleiden, Sandra Merritt and others with the Center for Medical Progress who helped to release undercover videos of Planned Parenthood allegedly selling aborted baby body parts for profit.
Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit accusing them of more than a dozen crimes, including trespassing, breach of confidentiality, wiretapping and conspiracy. The trial is separate from a criminal case against Daleiden and Merritt launched by former California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
The jury currently is deliberating, but before they began, Orrick gave them instructions about how to make their decision, including his decision that Daleiden is guilty, the Daily Wire reports.
“I have already determined that these defendants trespassed at each of these locations. Because I determined that these defendants trespassed, the law assumes that Planned Parenthood has been harmed and is entitled to an award of nominal damages such as one dollar for each trespass,” he told the jury.
Orrick said the Center for Medical Progress investigators “trespassed at the 2014 Forum in Miami, Florida; at the 2015 MeDC meeting in Orlando, Florida; and the 2015 National Conference in Washington, D.C.” as well as at the Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountain Center in Colorado and a Planned Parenthood Center in Texas.
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Here’s more from the report:
The judge said the jury must accept his rulings and only decide if Planned Parenthood suffered damage from the trespass and what damages they should be awarded.
Planned Parenthood originally sought $20 million in damages for trespassing, fraud, and RICO conspiracy against Daleiden and his colleagues. However, Judge Orrick reduced potential damages to $600,000.
Addressing the jury at the close of the trial, Peter Breen, counsel for Daleiden and his colleagues, said the case is “about the steps it took for private citizen investigators to cut through a curtain of silence and concealment.”
He added that it was not a case of fraud or racketeering but rather one about the freedom of the press.
“This is a case of undercover journalism. And we, the people, need that information. You need that information. You may not like seeing that information. It may be difficult or whatever. But we don’t want to stop the flow of information.”
The investigative team’s lawyers repeatedly have criticized how Orrick handled the case, including refusing to allow key experts to testify and to allow the jury to watch some of the undercover footage obtained by Daleiden and Merritt.
Orrick has close ties to the Planned Parenthood abortion chain, but he refused to recuse himself from the case. Prior to becoming a judge, Orrick served on the board of a San Francisco-area family resource center that shares space and helps run a Planned Parenthood facility that refers for abortions.
The undercover investigation exposed numerous atrocities inside Planned Parenthood abortion facilities across the U.S. Its findings prompted investigations by the U.S. House and Senate, as well as a number of states.
Not only did the Center for Medical Progress investigation raise concerns about potentially illegal sales of human body parts, but it also uncovered evidence of abortionists allegedly putting women’s lives at greater risk by altering abortion procedures to better harvest aborted baby parts. The investigators also found evidence of possible patient privacy violations.
Daleiden and his fellow investigators contend that they did not do anything wrong; they are undercover journalists who worked to expose the unethical and potentially illegal harvesting and sales of aborted baby body parts by Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Peter Breen, Daleiden’s lawyer, said their goal was to inform the public of potential wrong-doing within the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood is a billion-dollar “nonprofit” that does more abortions than any other group in America and has massive political power, dumping tens of millions of dollars into elections each year.
“This case is about the steps it took for private citizen investigators to cut through a curtain of silence and concealment,” Breen said in his closing statement. “They didn’t do it for profit or for personal gain. They did it for the paramount public purpose of letting Americans know and law enforcers investigate whether and to what extent our laws may have been violated.”
Earlier in the trial, Orrick allowed the jury to see an ABC News 20/20 investigation from 2000 that sparked Daleiden’s own investigation. The mainstream news outlet found similar evidence of abortionists selling aborted baby body parts for a profit, in violation of the law.
At another point during the trial, a Planned Parenthood witness admitted that some of the security “threats” that they blame on Daleiden’s exposé were not actual threats. Instead, they were letters from people saying they were praying for abortion clinic staff. Still other security incidents were completely unrelated to the undercover investigation.