David Daleiden pleaded not guilty Friday in San Francisco Superior Court to charges stemming from his undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood and its handling of aborted baby body parts.
He and fellow investigator Sandra Merritt face nine felony charges for allegedly eavesdropping, falsifying documents and recording people without their consent. Prosecuting them is California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a pro-abortion Democrat with close ties to Planned Parenthood.
The Federalist reports both Daleiden and Merritt pleaded not guilty Friday, and their lawyers slammed the charges as politically motivated.
“[Daleiden] is being charged as a criminal for using the same investigative reporting techniques regularly exercised by other journalists,” said Thomas More Society vice president Peter Breen, who represents Daleiden. “These industry practices are often lauded and rewarded, but here in California, Mr. Daleiden is being charged as a criminal and threatened with years in prison for shining his investigative light on the dark secrets of the abortion industry.”
Daleiden and Merritt could face jail time if convicted. According to Courthouse News, the California Penal Code allows fines of up to $2,500 and a year in prison for a single count of eavesdropping or recording without consent.
Last year, a judge dismissed several of the charges against Daleiden and Merritt, and their lawyers hope the rest eventually will be dismissed, too.
Merritt’s lawyer Horatio Mihet told Courthouse News that one charge involving the creation of fake driver’s licenses may be dismissed because the attorney general’s office filed it too late.
“If there is a trial, I expect it will be late in the year at the earliest,” he said. “We will tirelessly pursue every avenue to obtain a dismissal.”
In a statement after the arraignment hearing Friday, Daleiden expressed confidence that the “bogus” charges eventually will be thrown out.
“The record continues to show that every recording was made in situations where third parties could overhear, and made for the purpose of gathering evidence of criminality,” he said. “The Attorney General’s belated attempt to add charges clearly barred by the statute of limitations is just one more example of the political motives behind this unjust prosecution.”
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Lawyers with Liberty Council, a pro-life legal firm representing Merritt, said, to date, no other citizen journalist or journalism group has ever been charged with a crime for undercover recordings made in the public interest.
According to The Federalist, “In the same year Daleiden released his alarming videos speaking to employees of Planned Parenthood and tissue procurement company StemExpress, animal rights activists in California used similar tactics of undercover recording on farms and in slaughterhouses to expose the mistreatment of chickens, yet they faced no legal consequences from the state.”
Right after Bererra filed the charges, even the liberal Los Angeles Times editorial board slammed the attorney general for prosecuting journalists.
“It’s disturbingly aggressive for Becerra to apply this criminal statute to people who were trying to influence a contested issue of public policy, regardless of how sound or popular that policy may be,” the editors wrote. “… The state doesn’t need to threaten the pair with prison time.”
In November, Daleiden, Merritt and the Center for Medical Progress lost a civil case to the Planned Parenthood abortion chain. Their lawyers plan to appeal. In that case, Planned Parenthood accused them of more than a dozen crimes, including trespassing, breach of confidentiality, wiretapping and conspiracy.
Their undercover videos did a lot of damage to Planned Parenthood when they revealed the abortion giant’s baby body parts operation. 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 Merritt believe their prosecution is politically motivated by politicians like Becerra and his predecessor, Kamala Harris, both of whom received huge campaign donations from the abortion industry.
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.
The committees concluded by recommending that the Department of Justice investigate Planned Parenthood. Both said they found strong evidence that the abortion chain broke the law. The Department of Justice is investigating.
Planned Parenthood repeatedly has denied all allegations of wrong-doing, and many news outlets now parrot its talking points that the undercover videos were deceptively edited or debunked, even though that is not true. An independent forensics investigation verified that the videos were authentic.
Some undercover videos show how Planned Parenthood employees callously and flippantly negotiated the price of tiny baby hearts, lungs, livers and brains. Other evidence indicates the abortion giant may have broken HIPAA patient privacy laws.
The expose videos catching Planned Parenthood officials selling the body parts of aborted babies have shocked the nation. Here is a list of all 14:
- In the first video: Dr. Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood commented on baby-crushing: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
- In the second video: Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Mary Gatter joked, “I want a Lamborghini” as she negotiated the best price for baby parts.
- In the third video: Holly O’Donnell, a former Stem Express employee who worked inside a Planned Parenthood clinic, detailed first-hand the unspeakable atrocities and how she fainted in horror over handling baby legs.
- In the fourth video: Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Savita Ginde stated, “We don’t want to do just a flat-fee (per baby) of like, $200. A per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it.” She also laughed while looking at a plate of fetal kidneys that were “good to go.”
- In the fifth video: Melissa Farrell of Planned Parenthood-Gulf Coast in Houston boasted of Planned Parenthood’s skill in obtaining “intact fetal cadavers” and how her “research” department “contributes so much to the bottom line of our organization here, you know we’re one of the largest affiliates, our Research Department is the largest in the United States.”
- In the sixth video: Holly O’Donnell described technicians taking fetal parts without patient consent: “There were times when they would just take what they wanted. And these mothers don’t know. And there’s no way they would know.”
- In the seventh and perhaps most disturbing video: Holly O’Donnell described the harvesting, or “procurement,” of organs from a nearly intact late-term fetus aborted at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda clinic in San Jose, CA. “‘You want to see something kind of cool,’” O’Donnell says her supervisor asked her. “And she just taps the heart, and it starts beating. And I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.”
- In the eighth video: StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer admits Planned Parenthood sells “a lot of” fully intact aborted babies.
- The ninth video: catches a Planned Parenthood medical director discussing how the abortion company sells fully intact aborted babies — including one who “just fell out” of the womb.
- The 10th video: catches the nation’s biggest abortion business selling specific body parts — including the heart, eyes and “gonads” of unborn babies. The video also shows the shocking ways in which Planned Parenthood officials admit that they are breaking federal law by selling aborted baby body parts for profit.
- Unreleased Videos: Unreleased videos from CMP show Deb Vanderhei of Planned Parenthood caught on tape talking about how Planned Parenthood abortion business affiliates may “want to increase revenue [from selling baby parts] but we can’t stop them…” Another video has a woman talking about the “financial incentives” of selling aborted baby body parts.
- The 11th video: catches a Texas Planned Parenthood abortionist planning to sell the intact heads of aborted babies for research. Amna Dermish is caught on tape describing an illegal partial-birth abortion procedure to terminate living, late-term unborn babies which she hopes will yield intact fetal heads for brain harvesting.
- The 12th video in the series shows new footage of Jennefer Russo, medical director at Planned Parenthood in Orange County, California, describing to undercover investigators how her abortion business tries to harvest intact aborted babies’ bodies for a local for-profit biotech company and changes the abortion procedure to do so.
- The 13th video: exposes a Planned Parenthood medical director admitting that babies born alive after abortion are sometimes killed.
- The 14th video: catches Planned Parenthood executives discussing gruesome abortion procedures and the sale of body parts from aborted babies for profit.