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David Daleiden outside Superior Court in San Francisco, California, Feb. 11, 2019. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews.com
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Jury rules against Daleiden, pro-lifers who exposed Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby body parts

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

SAN FRANCISCO, California, November 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress undercover investigators have been found guilty of multiple crimes and must pay millions in damages to Planned Parenthood for the work they did in exposing organ harvesting on aborted babies.

The jury of nine men and one woman released its verdict Friday afternoon after deliberating less than two days, even though the landmark civil trial took six weeks.

The total amount awarded to Planned Parenthood is over $2 million, according to the Thomas More Society, which includes punitive and compensatory damages as well as attorneys' fees. Local San Francisco reporter Helen Chistophi tweeted from the courthouse that the punitive damages totaled $870,000.

Pro-life defense lawyers have already stated they will appeal, telling reporters outside the courtroom the "process was unfair."

“This lawsuit is payback for David Daleiden exposing Planned Parenthood’s dirty business of buying and selling fetal parts and organs,” declared lead Thomas More Society defense attorney Peter Breen. “We intend to seek vindication for David on appeal. His investigation into criminal activity by America’s largest abortion provider utilized standard investigative journalism techniques, those applied regularly by news outlets across the country.”

“David’s findings revealed practices so abhorrent that the United States Congress issued criminal referrals for Planned Parenthood, and numerous states and elected officials have moved to strip it of funding,” continued Breen. “Rather than face up to its heinous doings, Planned Parenthood chose to persecute the person who exposed it. I am fully confident that when this case has run its course, justice will prevail, and David will be vindicated.”

Daleiden called the verdict a "dangerous attack" on first amendment rights. 

"Justice was not done today in San Francisco," stated the Center for Medical Progress in a press release. 

"While top Planned Parenthood witnesses spent six weeks testifying under oath that the undercover videos are true and Planned Parenthood sold fetal organs on a quid pro quo basis, a biased judge with close Planned Parenthood ties spent six weeks influencing the jury with pre-determined rulings and by suppressing video evidence, all in order to rubber-stamp Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit attack on the First Amendment. This is a dangerous precedent for citizen journalism and First Amendment civil rights across the country, sending a message that speaking truth and facts criticizing the powerful is no longer protected by our institutions," the group added. 

The case was heard by San Francisco’s U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick III, who has ties to Planned Parenthood, but refused to disqualify himself when defense requested him to do so.

CMP released videos in 2015 exposing Planned Parenthood’s apparently illegal trade in aborted baby body parts after a 30-month undercover operation.

The groundbreaking videos showed top-level Planned Parenthood executives haggling over prices of aborted baby body parts, and discussing how to change abortion procedures to obtain more intact organs, and sparked public outrage, congressional and senate hearings, and an ongoing Department of Justice criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood.

In the retaliatory lawsuit, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and 10 affiliates accused CMP project lead Daleiden, investigators Sandra Merritt and Adrian Lopez, and founding board members Albin Rhomberg and Troy Newman of Operation Rescue of multiple crimes, including illegal taping, fraud, and violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute in connection with CMP journalists going undercover at Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation conferences in 2014 and 2015.

They were seeking $630,000 in base damages and millions of dollars in punitive damages.

Lawyers for the CMP citizen journalists say they were hampered by Orrick ruling out a First Amendment defense.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get Judge Orrick to back off from his insistence that the jury be instructed that the First Amendment … does not state any kind of defense to the charges in this case,” said Thomas Brejcha, founder of the Thomas More Society, in an update on the case last week.

“Which, frankly, we think is a terrible misreading of our fundamental constitutional laws about free speech,” he added.

Orrick instructed the jury Tuesday on points of law to consider when reaching their verdict. 

The judge “had already found that the defendants trespassed when they attended, undercover, Planned Parenthood conferences in Miami and Orlando and met with Planned Parenthood executives at Planned Parenthood facilities in Colorado and Texas,” according to an Archdiocese of San Francisco report.

Orrick “instructed the jury to only concern themselves with the damages that the defendants are liable for that trespass, both punitive and actual,” it stated.

He also told the jury that the “defendants breached contracts with Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation and the jury should award damages because of those breaches,” the archdiocesan report stated.

In closing arguments by Planned Parenthood’s lawyers “pretty much called David and the other investigators every name in the book,” but principally “liars,” said defense lawyer Peter Breen, senior counsel for the Thomas More Society, who referred to the case as “the blockbuster trial of the century.”

In four days on the witness stand, Daleiden testified he undertook the 30-month sting operation after reading testimony of the 2000 congressional hearings into illegal aborted baby body parts harvesting and seeing a 2000 ABC 20/20 exposé of a Planned Parenthood Kansas abortionist selling fetal organs for profit.

He also testified that he found a 2012 Circulation article citing StemExpress supplying human fetal hearts to Stanford for a study that, he was told, required the hearts be harvested from live babies.

Planned Parenthood’s lead counsel Rhonda Trotter “lied to the jury” in closing arguments by claiming Daleiden did not report Plaintiffs Planned Parenthood Orange & San Bernardino Counties or Planned Parenthood Mar Monte to law enforcement agencies, CMP reported.  

“In fact, CMP had produced the reports to law enforcement in discovery in the case and Planned Parenthood has been aware of them for over a year,” CMP stated.

Daleiden and Merritt are also facing 14 felony counts of illegal taping under California’s anti-eavesdropping law. Judge Christopher Hite of the San Francisco Superior Court is expected to rule soon if there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

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