HOUSTON, May 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – In explosive new court filings the attorney for Planned Parenthood admits that he secretly received a videotape from the Houston prosecutor's office, and says the grand jury never even voted on whether to indict Planned Parenthood for selling aborted human beings' body parts. Furthermore, the district attorney admits her office violated the law in its handling of the indictment of pro-life investigator David Daleiden – but dismisses the infraction as “minor and harmless.”
Last July, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), founded by Daleiden, released its 30-month-long undercover investigation into Planned Parenthood's practice of selling the body parts of aborted babies. The series of undercover videos exposed highly questionable practices at Planned Parenthood affiliates, among them the Houston-based Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC).
After the release of the videos, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, was impaneled to decide whether it should press charges.
From the beginning CMP's defenders questioned whether Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson presented the full evidence to the grand jury, a charge that dogged her handling of the case of abortionist Douglas Karpen in 2013. Karpen was not indicted despite the testimony of three eyewitnesses who said he killed living newborns with his bare hands.
In the current case, not only was Planned Parenthood not indicted, but on January 25, the grand jury instead indicted Daleiden and co-investigator Sandra Merritt, for using false identification – a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison – as well as a misdemeanor charge of attempting to purchase human organs.
In April, Daleiden's attorneys responded by filing motions to dismiss the charges against CMP, presenting evidence that the DA's office had illegally colluded with Planned Parenthood.
Now, in responses to those motions to dismiss, District Attorney Devon Anderson and Planned Parenthood attorney Josh Schaeffer essentially admit they worked in unison on charging CMP investigators and violated another aspect of state law, but say the indictments should stand.
Additionally Schaeffer reveals that the prosecutor's office indicated to him that “the grand jury had not even voted on whether to indict PPGC or any of its employees.” He also admits that as soon as the investigation came to his attention, he pushed to have the pro-life investigators indicted instead – a request that did not fall on deaf ears.
Harris County DA handed Planned Parenthood subpoenaed video
Schaeffer says in a sworn affidavit that he had tried to obtain CMP's unedited video footage – footage that was a potential PR nightmare for his employer. In the process he “suggested” to prosecutor Sunni Mitchell that she “request the unedited video footage from the [Texas] Attorney General's Office.”
However, while the Texas attorney general's office agreed share the footage with Harris County prosecutors, it made the offer only on the condition that local prosecutors were strictly forbidden from sharing the videos with Planned Parenthood.
Not to be deterred, Mitchell then told Schaeffer she would obtain the video “through other means,” according to the Planned Parenthood attorney.
She was good to her word. Schaeffer says that last December 18 the Harris County DA's office “produced to me what it asserted was the unedited video footage.” The DA's office had obtained the footage from Daleiden's lawyers by means of a grand jury subpoena.
But Schaeffer says he “did not know and did not ask how” the office obtained it. Mithcell “did not tell me, nor did I consider, that [Daleiden's attorney] would produce it pursuant to a grand jury subpoena.”
Daleiden's attorneys describe the maneuver as “an end-run” around the state Attorney General's office.
In Anderson's own response to the motion to quash, she says Daleiden's attorneys are “incorrect” that the DA's office broke the law by secretly giving evidence to only one side of a legal contest.
She argues that grand jury secrecy laws do not “prohibit disclosure of videos or other evidence that the [s]tate obtains via a grand jury subpoena.” Instead, she argues, the secrecy laws only apply to “the internal operations, discussions, and deliberations that the grand jurors undertake.”
But Daleiden's attorney, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, says the new filings “confirm that the DA shared confidential documents and information with abortion provider Planned Parenthood, colluding with it in the prosecution of David Daleiden.”
“These filings also include evidence that appears to show that the DA’s office worked with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to undermine the Texas Attorney General’s independent investigation of that abortion provider,” he said.
But the DA brushes aside such concerns saying any legal “oversight” was “inconsequential.”
Breaking the law was “minor and harmless”
Daleiden's attorneys also say the charges should be dismissed, because the Harris County DA's office violated a Texas law saying that indictments shall not be made public “if the defendant is not in custody.” Yet the office issued a press release to announce Daleiden and Merritt's indictment, while the two were free in another state.
Devon Anderson admits that her office publicly revealed the indictments before the two were in custody.
But, she says, “that oversight was a mere technical, inconsequential violation of” the law. Elsewhere, Anderson calls it a “procedural irregularity” that “was minor and harmless.”
But Breen does not hold Anderson's behavior so harmless.
“The conduct of Harris County prosecutors in this case is outrageous and illegal,” Breen said. “We look forward to pressing our motion to quash this indictment in court.”
More than 129,000 people have signed LifeSiteNews' petition, asking Anderson to drop all charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt.
At a press conference in February, co-sponsored by LifeSiteNews, Rev. Patrick Mahoney warned Anderson he would press state authorities to investigate “ethics violations” she had committed while in office.