Anti-Abortion Activist And Lawyers May See Jail Time For Leaked Videos

The man behind the Planned Parenthood "Baby Parts" video faces six months in jail, while his lawyers could be disbarred.  

By Benjamin H. Smith

The anti-abortion activist who gained notoriety after distributing videos alleging the sale of “baby parts” by Planned Parenthood is facing possible jail time for contempt of court, according to a new report in Buzzfeed.  Despite a court-ordered injunction, David Daleiden posted more sensationalistic videos of alleged abortion doctors discussing medical procedures, and also identified 14 of the anonymous participants in the criminal complaint against him and his recording partner Sandra Merritt. The actions could also result in fines and jail time for his criminal lawyers, as well as their disbarment. 

Daleiden is the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group who set up a fake biomedical research company to meet with Planned Parenthood employees to discuss the harvesting and possible sale of human fetal tissue. The meetings were secretly recorded and then edited to create the impression that Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit reproductive health care provider, was selling off aborted fetuses to make a profit. Planned Parenthood have denied the allegations and filed suit against the CMP, as did the National Abortion Federation, which resulted in a court injunction against Daleiden and the CMP releasing any new videos until the case is resolved.

In March, California prosecutors brought felony charges against Daleiden and Merritt for unlawfully filming 14 people without their consent in Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Franciso and El Dorado. In a statement quoted in the Los Angeles Times, State Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society.” Daleiden shot back, issuing a statement on the CMP website, saying, “The bogus charges from Planned Parenthood’s political cronies are fake news.” Due to past threats against abortion providers, the names of those named in the complaints were placed under a confidential court seal.

In late May, attorneys Brentford Ferreira and his partner Steve Cooley, who are representing Daleiden in his criminal case, posted the list of victims in California’s criminal complaint. They also posted an edit of his past hidden camera footage as well as links to 17 new videos, secretly recorded at the annual meetings of the National Abortion Federation, which featured medical professionals discussing graphic details of abortion procedures. Almost immediately, District Judge William H. Orrick of San Francisco directed Daleiden and his attorneys to take down at least 11 of the names as well as all the videos. Daleiden complied. However, Orrick also set a hearing to determine whether to hold Daleiden in contempt for what appeared to be an “intentional violation” of the injunction, according to The Washington Post.

A contempt of court hearing last week was postponed after Daleiden’s legal team requested Orrick be removed from the case for being biased in favor of Planned Parenthood, citing past charitable works and his wife’s Facebook posts. Meanwhile, the NAF has asked that Daleiden and his criminal lawyers be referred to the US Attorney’s Office for “investigation and potential prosecution for criminal contempt of court,” according to Buzzfeed. The California Attorney General’s office has also requested a disbarment investigation into attorney’s Ferreira and Cooley. They also requested all three be held contempt of state court for violating the seal on the names of complainants, which carries a $1,000 fine and a maximum sentence of six months in jail.


[Photo: David Daleiden/Twitter]

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