Church Worldwide: Grand Jury Indicts Two Behind Planned Parenthood Videos

| |

A Texas grand jury investigating video-recorded allegations that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal organs instead indicted two of the people who made the controversial undercover videos.

The grand jury in Harris County indicted David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record. Daleiden was also indicted on a misdemeanor charge of “prohibition of the purchase and sale of human organs,” Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a statement.
The grand jury declined to indict anyone from Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast—the initial target of the investigation.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” Anderson said 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.”

Daleiden and Merritt created a fake human-tissue company and secretly recorded Planned Parenthood workers discussing the disposal of organs. Planned Parenthood officials, who have sued the two and several others involved in making the videos, say the recordings were deceptively edited and falsely portrayed the highly regulated process by which organs from aborted fetuses can be donated for medical research.

“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,” Eric Ferrero, a spokesman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

Last week, Planned Parenthood filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against Daleiden and Merritt, along with the Center for Medical Progress and BioMax, and several others identified as helping create the videos. The lawsuit filed in San Francisco claims the defendants “engaged in a complex criminal enterprise to defraud Planned Parenthood and prevent the health care organization from providing preventive and reproductive health services to millions of women and men.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott last summer called for the grand jury investigation, calling the allegations contained in the videos “repulsive and unconscionable.” Reacting to Monday’s announcement, Abbott wrote on Twitter: “Despite today’s decision in Harris Co. about Planned Parenthood, Texas will continue to protect life & investigate@PPact practices.”

Planned Parenthood officials and the organization’s defenders say the videos have prompted a dramatic rise in violence against abortion clinics, including a Nov. 27 shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that left three dead. The suspect in that case, Robert Lewis Dear, claimed he was a “warrior for the babies.” He’s currently awaiting a mental-health competency exam.

Eleven states launched similar investigations into Planned Parenthood following the videos’ release; all cleared the organization of wrongdoing.

About the Author

See comments (4)


Wow. Reprinting a USA Today article?  Certainly, the Banner doesn't reprint many (any?)  USA Today articles, so why this one, especially because it is about a grand jury indictment (that is, not even a conviction or acquittal)?

Frankly, I can't figure out a reason, except that the Banner has decided to shill for Planned Parenthood.  Seriously, what other reason might there be?

Hi Doug,

The Banner subscribes to Religion News Service, from which we glean much of our Church Worldwide news, since we do not have staff to report on the wider religious world. We select articles from the news feed that we think our readers would be interested in. Sometimes RNS notes that a byline should read "USA Today" or another news outlet, so we do that to comply with copyright issues. Thanks for asking!


Thanks for the info Gayla.  I still wonder why this article would be chosen for reprinting in the Banner.  Since a grand jury process is secret I'm not sure re-printing an article like this provides anyone with meaningful information about anything, although it smacks (best word I can think of for reasons aforesaid) of being defensive for the sake of PP and being accusatory against those who who did the undercover investigation.  To say in another way, this still seems like the Banner is shilling for Planned Parenthood.

So that Banner readers might get a more complete story about the subject matter covered in this article (more than just "the folks videoing Planned Parenthood were indicated") I provide below a statement released by one of the defendant's attorneys.


HOUSTON, TX -- Today the Liberty Counsel legal team representing Sandra "Susan" Merritt appeared with Sandra in the Houston Criminal Court. The District Attorney told the judge that the DA's office offered pre-trial diversion reducing the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. 

The judge was asked by the legal team to reduce Sandra's bail from $10,000 to $2,000, which he did. Sandra posted bail and was released. 

Liberty Counsel has assembled a highly qualified legal defense team, including Dan Cogdell and Chris Downey, both from Houston. Chris was a former District Attorney. Dan has successfully handled many high-profile criminal cases, including ENRON, a person with the Branch Dravidians, and more. Dan has been repeatedly recognized as one of the nation's leading criminal defense lawyers. 

A crush of media was present today. After the court appearance the legal team addressed the media with Sandra present.

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, and Harry Mihet, Chief Counsel for Liberty Counsel, was with her today. Mat Staver said, "Sandra did nothing wrong. The indictment against her is weak, and the discovery will reveal why she will prevail. Sandra has revealed to the world the brutality that occurs in Planned Parenthood abortion centers. She should be applauded for her courage, not indicted. We shall prevail because Sandra did not break any laws." 

Sandra is scheduled to reappear in court on March 28. In the meantime, our legal team has already filed motions for discovery. 

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. 


An additional news release from Liberty Counsel, containing their concerns about this grand jury process and members, can be found at: