Maker of Undercover Planned Parenthood Videos Indicted

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David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, was indicted Monday by a Texas grand jury in connection with undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees that purportedly show the group's employees offering to sell human body parts. Pictured, a rally in support of Planned Parenthood at Los Angeles City Hall on September 29, 2015. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Updated | Last summer, an anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress began releasing a series of undercover videos filmed at various Planned Parenthood locations that purported to show the organization's executives offering to sell human organs left over from abortions. The videos launched a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood and spawned multiple state-level investigations as well. While the federal investigation is ongoing, all of the state-level probes found no wrongdoing on Planned Parenthood's part.

The same cannot be said for those who made the videos. Late Monday, a Texas grand jury declined to indict Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, deciding instead to indict David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt, who worked with Daleiden to create the undercover videos. Daleiden and Merritt were both formally accused of "tampering with a governmental record," a second-degree felony in Texas.

Daleiden was further charged with violating a Texas statute that states that "a person commits an offense if he or she knowingly or intentionally offers to buy, offers to sell, acquires, receives, sells, or otherwise transfers any human organ for valuable consideration," a Class A misdemeanor.

In Texas, a second-degree felony carries a sentence of two to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000, while a Class A misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. In Harris County, where Daleiden was indicted, the sentences for his felony and his misdemeanor do not stack. He faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars.

"We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast," said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson in a statement. "As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."

Planned Parenthood is suing the Center for Medical Progress, Daleiden and Merritt, among others, for conspiracy and fraud, among other things, in connection with the videos. "These anti-abortion extremists spent three years creating a fake company, creating fake identities, lying, and breaking the law. When they couldn't find any improper or illegal activity, they made it up," said Eric Ferrero, Vice President of Communications for Planned Parenthood in a statement. :As the dust settles and the truth comes out, it's become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we're glad they're being held accountable."

"These people broke the law to spread malicious lies about Planned Parenthood in order to advance their extreme anti-abortion political agenda. As the dust settles and the truth comes out, it's become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we're glad they're being held accountable."

The Center for Medical Progress was widely criticized after the release of the videos for what critics called misleading editing techniques designed to make Planned Parenthood executives look callous with regard to human life.

In Colorado, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, is accused of opening fire on a Planned Parenthood clinic in November. He allegedly yelled, "No more baby parts" as he was being arrested, which many saw as an allusion to Daleiden's videos.

Maker of Undercover Planned Parenthood Videos Indicted | U.S.