California prosecutors charged the filmmakers behind undercover videos of Planned Parenthood executives with 15 felonies Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.
The state charged David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt for their roles in the release of a series of undercover videos that showed Planned Parenthood employees appearing to negotiate the price of aborted fetal body parts. Profiting from the sale of human body parts — including those of the unborn — is illegal in the United States. Planned Parenthood has denied illegal conduct.
Daleiden and Merritt also faced similar charges in Texas, but the state dropped them last July.
According to the AP, prosecutors said Daleiden and Merritt “filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties.” The state filed one felony count for each person filmed and a 15th charge for “criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.”
In a statement, California 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.
“We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations,” Becerra said.
Daleiden said in a statement that “the bogus charges from Planned Parenthood’s political cronies are fake news.”
"They tried the same collusion with corrupt officials in Houston, Texas, and failed: Both the charges and the DA were thrown out," he said. "The public knows the real criminals are Planned Parenthood and their business partners like StemExpress and DV Biologics — currently being prosecuted in California — who have harvested and sold aborted baby body parts for profit for years in direct violation of state and federal law.
"We look forward to showing the entire world what is on our yet-unreleased video tapes of Planned Parenthood’s criminal baby body parts enterprise, in vindication of the First Amendment rights of all," he said.
In a statement, Mary Alice Carter, Planned Parenthood's interim vice president of communications, said, "As we have said from the beginning, and as more than a dozen different state investigations have made clear: Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong, and the only people who broke the law are those behind the fraudulent tapes.
"The California attorney general filing criminal charges sends a clear message that you cannot target women and you cannot target health care providers without consequences. We look forward to justice being served," Carter said.
Shortly after the charges were announced, the Center for Medical Progress released a new undercover video.