California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood with 15 felonies, saying they invaded the privacy of medical providers by filming without consent.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the charges against David Daleiden of Davis, Calif., and Sandra Merritt of San Jose. The two operate the Irvine-based Center for Medical Progress.
The allegations say the pair filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. One felony count was filed for each person. The 15th was for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.
Becerra says they used a fictitious bioresearch company to meet with women’s health care providers and covertly record them.
‘Bogus’ charges politically motivated: accused
Daleiden, in an email to The Associated Press, said the “bogus” charges are coming from “Planned Parenthood’s political cronies.”
“The public knows the real criminals are Planned Parenthood and their business partners,” Daleiden said.
In April of last year, Daleiden said in a Facebook post that California Department of Justice agents raided his home, seizing all of his video footage along with personal information.
Since then, the case had gone largely quiet, with virtually no revelations about the investigation and no indication that the charges were coming before they were filed Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court.
The prosecution got a new leader this year in Becerra, a longtime Congressional Democrat, who took over for Kamala Harris when she became a U.S. Senator.
Daleiden and Merritt had previously been indicted in Texas on similar charges in January of 2016, but all of the charges were eventually dropped by July as prosecutors said a grand jury had overstepped its authority. The grand jury had originally been convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, but after finding no wrongdoing turned around and indicted Daleiden and Merritt instead.
Messages left seeking comment from Planned Parenthood representatives late Tuesday were not immediately returned.