David Daleiden

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David Daleiden
Born (1989-01-01) January 1, 1989 (age 33)
EducationDavis Senior High School
Alma materClaremont McKenna College
OccupationAnti-abortion activist

David Robert Daleiden (born 1989)[1] is an American anti-abortion activist[2] who worked for Live Action before founding the Irvine, California-based Center for Medical Progress in 2013.[3][4]

Early life and family[edit]

Daleiden says he is the "child of a crisis pregnancy" and grew up "culturally Catholic."[5]

Daleiden graduated from Davis High School in 2007 and later from Claremont McKenna College.[6]

Anti-abortion activities[edit]

In 2015, Daleiden released videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing fees for human fetal tissue and organs.[7][8] Daleiden, an associate of Lila Rose, ran a Live Action chapter in 2007 and was the organization's director of research "during the early stages" of the project to make secret recordings of Planned Parenthood clinics.[9][10] He originally registered his Center for Medical Progress [C.M.P.] as a tax-exempt biomedical charity. In furtherance of his plan, he set up a fake biomedical research company called Biomax Procurement Services. Daleiden and his collaborator, Sandra Merritt, posed as employees of Biomax and orchestrated surreptitious recordings of interviews where his associates asked about tissue donation costs, and questioned whether tissue samples could be acquired from African American patients with sickle-cell anemia.[11] After the publication of the videos, Daleiden re-registered his Center for Medical Progress as a journalistic organization.[9][12][13]

Planned Parenthood states that they may donate fetal tissue at the request of a patient, but such tissue is never sold.[11][14] According to Molly Redden of The Guardian, the content of the videos was "broadly considered to be false, the product of aggressive and misleading editing".[15] Fusion GPS, the production company Planned Parenthood hired in the wake of the scandal to debunk the videos, rigorously analyzed them and found what they considered to be "...'substantive omissions' on Daleiden's part. According to the investigation, the reviewers could not determine 'the extent to which C.M.P.'s undisclosed edits and cuts distort the meaning of the encounters the videos purport to document.' But, it said, 'the manipulation of the videos does mean they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries' unless C.M.P. provides investigators with its original material, and that material is independently authenticated as unaltered.",[16]

The videos were shown to Republican Congressmen Trent Franks and Tim Murphy two weeks before being made publicly available, leading commentators to note that the timing of the release appeared to coincide with a bipartisan bill to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.[5][17][18]

On July 31, 2015, the National Abortion Federation sued CMP and Daleiden, alleging that Daleiden's campaign violated its members' privacy and threatened their safety.[19]

On January 22, 2016, Daleiden appeared on C-SPAN for a question-and-answer session that included viewer call-ins. He advocated reverting current laws back to the time when all elective abortions were criminal acts. The segment's opposing view was presented by NARAL Pro-Choice America policy director Donna Crane.[20][21]

Injunction against further publication of videos[edit]

As part of the National Abortion Federation's lawsuit against Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress, Federal Judge William Orrick III and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction in July 2015 forbidding Daleiden and CMP from publishing any more videos they had illegally obtained at private professional meetings.[3] In March 2017 a federal appeals court in March upheld Orrick's ruling, but new videos then appeared on the website of Daleiden's attorneys, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and Brentford J. Ferreira.[22] On July 11, 2017, Orrick found attorneys Cooley and Ferreira in contempt of court, saying, "With respect to the criminal defense counsel, they do not get to decide whether they can violate the preliminary injunction".[23]

On July 17, Orrick found Daleiden, the Center for Medical Progress and their lawyers, Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, in contempt of court.[24] Orrick ordered Daleiden to turn over video footage and other materials related to his 2016 preliminary injunction.[25]

On August 31, Orrick found Daleiden and his attorneys, Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, owed $195,359 compensation to the National Abortion Federation for legal fees and increased security for "expenses incurred as a result of the violation of my Preliminary Injunction Order". Orrick wrote that Daleiden's attorneys, Cooley and Ferreira, were included in the sanctions intended to ensure "current and future compliance" with his order.[26]

In November 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Orrick's 2016 injunction, in a 3-0 ruling.[27]: 1[2]: 1

Dropped criminal charges in Texas[edit]

On January 25, 2016, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas that originally had investigated the Gulf Coast chapter of Planned Parenthood and cleared them of any wrongdoing,[15]: 1 instead indicted Daleiden on a felony count of tampering with governmental records by making and using a fake driver's license,[28] and a misdemeanor charge for emailing an offer to buy fetal tissue for $1,600.[29][30][31]

Daleiden turned himself in on February 4, 2016,[32][33] and appeared in court after posting $3,000 bond.[34] He could have faced a prison sentence of up to 22 years if convicted, according to The Washington Post.[29] He reportedly rejected a plea deal in the case.[35]

The misdemeanor charge of offering to buy fetal tissue was dismissed on June 13, 2016, because of a defect in the indictment.[36] On July 26, 2016, Texas District Judge Brock Thomas dismissed the felony charges by ruling that the grand jury exceeded its authority by indicting Daleiden and Merritt when it was chartered only to investigate Planned Parenthood.[15]: 1[37]

On January 18, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit concluded the videos were authentic, and ruled that the state of Texas could strip Planned Parenthood of its taxpayer subsidy.[38]

Criminal charges in California[edit]

On March 28, 2017, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed 15 felony charges against Daleiden, alleging that he and associate Sandra Susan Merritt conspired to pose as BioMax employees in order to intentionally record confidential communications between themselves and Planned Parenthood employees in Century City (Los Angeles), Pasadena (Los Angeles), El Dorado (El Dorado), and San Francisco.[39][40] On June 21, 2017, Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite dismissed fourteen of the charges, with leave to amend, on the grounds that they were legally insufficient because they did not include details such as the names of the alleged victims and the locations and dates of the videoed events.[41] "Leave to amend" means that the prosecutors were allowed the option to re-file the charges with more details; the prosecutors did so some time during the week of July 3, and all fifteen felony charges against Daleiden and Merritt are active again.[42]

On June 30, 2017, state prosecutors refiled the 14 dismissed charges with numerical identifications for each video.[43][44] On August 24, 2017, the San Francisco Superior Court rejected new defense motions to dismiss the charges and allowed the case to proceed. Daleiden then pleaded not guilty.[44]

In September 2019, a hearing was held in San Francisco to determine whether Daleiden and Sandra Merritt should go to trial for fifteen criminal counts of felony invasion of privacy.[45] In this hearing, Daleiden's attorneys disputed the warrant by which agents with the California Dept of Justice entered Daleiden's home and seized computers, digital storage devices, and phony identification documents, in April 2016. The court, however, denied their claim that Daleiden was protected by California's Shield Law for acting as a citizen journalist, because the Department of Justice had sufficient probable cause of criminal activity to make the seizures.[46]

On December 6, 2019, Judge Christopher Hite ruled that Daleiden and Merritt will stand trial on nine felony counts involving eavesdropping and invasion of privacy.[47] At the February 21, 2020 arraignment, Daleiden and Sandra Merritt pleaded not guilty.[48]

On Daleiden and Merritt's appeal, Judge Suzanne Bolanos decided in July 2020 that prosecutors could try Daleiden on nine counts and Merritt on eight.[49]

Civil jury trial[edit]

Following the September, 2019, criminal hearing, Planned Parenthood and others affected by Daleiden's videos initiated a civil jury trial in federal court against Daleiden and Merritt, and also Center for Medical Progress affiliates Troy Newman, Albin Rhomberg, and Gerardo Adrian Lopez. The defendants were accused of fraud, breach of contract, unlawful recording of conversations, civil conspiracy, and violation of federal anti-racketeering law.[50][51] A verdict awarded the plaintiffs more than $2.2 million on November 16, 2019, and Daleiden was instructed to pay $500,000 in compensatory damages (most of which will be tripled under federal racketeering law), as well as $870,000 in punitive damages to Planned Parenthood.[27][2]: 1[52] The Thomas More Society has appealed the civil judgment on behalf of Daleiden.[53]

Civil rights lawsuit[edit]

In May, 2020, Daleiden filed suit against California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and former Attorney General Kamala Harris, claiming Harris conspired with Planned Parenthood to violate his civil rights by prosecuting him for his undercover investigation.[54]


  1. ^ Ludden, Jennifer (July 22, 2015). "Sting Videos Part Of Longtime Campaign Against Planned Parenthood". NPR. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Dinzeo, Maria (November 15, 2019). "Jury Finds Abortion Foes Harmed Planned Parenthood, Awards Over $2 Million". Retrieved November 16, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Stempel, Jonathan (July 31, 2015). "Anti-abortion group is sued over video releases". Reuters. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  4. ^ Thanawala, Sudhin (July 31, 2015). "Judge blocks release of recordings by anti-abortion group". Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Calmes, Jackie (July 23, 2015). "With Planned Parenthood Videos, Activist Ignites Abortion Issue". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "DHS grad at center of abortion controversy". Davis Enterprise. July 22, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  7. ^ Rhodan, Maya (July 14, 2015). "Republican Presidential Contenders Slam Planned Parenthood Over Video". Time. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  8. ^ Basu, Tanya (July 21, 2015). "Activists Release Second Video Slamming Planned Parenthood Fetal Tissue Donations". Time. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Uffalussy, Jennifer (July 21, 2015). "Who Is the 26-Year-Old Man Behind the Planned Parenthood 'Sting' Videos?". Yahoo Health.
  10. ^ Allen, Samantha (July 15, 2015). "Maker of Planned Parenthood Video Called Abortion 'Genocide'". The Daily Beast.
  11. ^ a b Fram, Alan (July 20, 2015). "Planned Parenthood says video part of decadelong harassment". Archived from the original on February 1, 2018.
  12. ^ "Planned Parenthood: More Sting Videos Are Coming". Huffington Post. The CMP was founded by David Daleiden, an anti-abortion activist who previously worked for the group Live Action, known for its heavily edited undercover videos of Planned Parenthood staffers.
  13. ^ "Group Behind Planned Parenthood Sting Video May Have Tricked IRS, Donors". The Huffington Post. July 17, 2015. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  14. ^ Bassett, Laura (July 20, 2015). "Planned Parenthood: More Sting Videos Are Coming". Huffington Post.
  15. ^ a b c Charges dismissed in indictments over Planned Parenthood sting videos, The Guardian, Molly Redden, July 26, 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  16. ^ Calmes, Jackie (August 27, 2015). "Planned Parenthood Videos Were Altered, Analysis Finds". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  17. ^ "Lawmakers Knew About Planned Parenthood Video Weeks Ago (Video)". Rollcall.com. July 16, 2015.
  18. ^ "Coincidence ... or Is It? Planned Parenthood 'Sting' Video Isn't First to Derail Legislation". Yahoo Health. July 17, 2015.
  19. ^ "State Probes Find Zero Planned Parenthood Violations As Antiabortion Group Is Sued Over Undercover Videos". Yahoo News. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  20. ^ "Washington Journal: David Daleiden on Planned Parenthood". C-SPAN.org. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  21. ^ "Washington Journal: Donna Crane on Supreme Court Abortion Case". C-SPAN.org. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  22. ^ "Judge to consider contempt against antiabortion group leader after release of Planned Parenthood videos". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. May 25, 2017. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  23. ^ Thanawala, Sudhin (July 11, 2017). "Judge: Anti-abortion leader's attorneys violated court order". Daily Herald. Associated Press. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  24. ^ Egelko, Bob (July 18, 2017). "Antiabortion activist, lawyers held in contempt over secret videos". SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  25. ^ Richardson, Valerie (July 17, 2017). "Pro-life investigator Daleiden held in contempt of court for posting undercover abortion videos". The Washington Times. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  26. ^ Federal Judge Sanctions Two California Lawyers in Abortion Videos Case, The National Law Journal, Cheryl Miller, September 1, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  27. ^ a b Egelko, Bob (November 16, 2019). "Planned Parenthood wins $2.2 million verdict against anti-abortion activists". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 17, 2019. After a monthlong trial, the jurors found that David Daleiden, his employee Sandra Merritt and their collaborators had violated state and federal laws against trespassing, fraud, clandestine recording and racketeering, as well as the nondisclosure agreements the two signed before entering the meetings. Jurors awarded Planned Parenthood more than $500,000 as compensation for the intrusions and $870,000 in punitive damages. Under federal racketeering law, most of the compensation will be tripled.
  28. ^ The Harris County, Texas grand jury charged Daleiden with making, presenting and using a California driver's license "with the intent to defraud and harm another [ . . . ]". The photocopy attached to the indictment appears to show a California driver's license in the name of "Robert David Sarkis." Indictment, Jan. 25, 2016, The State of Texas v. David Robert Daleiden, case no. 1496318, 338th District Court, Harris County, Texas.
  29. ^ a b Danielle Paquette (January 26, 2016). "The charges against anti-Planned Parenthood filmmaker, explained". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  30. ^ "Grand Jury Won't Take Action Against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast". Channel 13 Eyewitness News. Channel 13 News Houston. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  31. ^ Fernandez, Manny (January 25, 2016). "2 Abortion Foes Behind Planned Parenthood Videos Are Indicted". The New York Times.
  32. ^ Sandhya Somashekhar (February 4, 2016). "Activist behind anti-Planned Parenthood videos turns himself in". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  33. ^ Ruthy Munoz (February 4, 2016). "Indicted anti-abortion activist behind videos appears in Texas court". Reuters. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  34. ^ "The Latest: Anti-abortion activist surrenders in Texas". Associated Press. February 4, 2016. Retrieved February 4, 2016 – via Miami Herald.
  35. ^ "2 behind Planned Parenthood videos rejecting plea deals". Associated Press. April 29, 2016.
  36. ^ Bradford Richardson, "Misdemeanor charge dropped against David Daleiden in undercover Planned Parenthood sting," June 14, 2016, The Washington Times, at [1].
  37. ^ Last charge dropped against anti-abortion duo behind Planned Parenthood videos," July 26, 2016; Fox News, at [2]
  38. ^ madelineorr (January 18, 2019). "Court Rules Undercover Videos Of Planned Parenthood Selling Baby Body Parts As Authentic". The Federalist. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  39. ^ Hamilton, Matt. "Two antiabortion activists behind undercover Planned Parenthood videos charged with 15 felonies". Latimes.com. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  40. ^ "See the 15 felony charges California filed against antiabortion activist David Daleiden". Sacramento Bee. March 29, 2017.
  41. ^ Egelko, Bob (June 21, 2017). "SF judge deals setback to prosecutors in abortion sting videos". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  42. ^ Egelko, Bob (July 7, 2017). "California files more charges against antiabortion activists". SFGate. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  43. ^ Egelko, Bob (July 7, 2017). "California files more charges against antiabortion activists". SfGate. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  44. ^ a b "SF court ruling allows felony charges to proceed against anti-abortion activists". Daily Herald. August 24, 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  45. ^ Dinzeo, Maria (September 3, 2019). "Criminal Hearing Begins Over Undercover Video by Abortion Foes". courthousenews.com. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  46. ^ Dinzeo, Maria (September 16, 2019). "Abortion Foe Defends Secret Taping as Investigative Work". courthousenews.com. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  47. ^ Dinzeo, Maria (December 6, 2019). "Abortion Foes Will Face Criminal Charges in Undercover Video Case". Courthouse News. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  48. ^ Dinzeo, Maria (February 21, 2020). "Anti-Abortion Activists Arraigned in Criminal Invasion of Privacy Case". Courthouse News. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  49. ^ Egelko, Bob (July 29, 2020). "Case to go forward against two antiabortion activists who recorded conversations". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  50. ^ Iovino, Nicholas (October 31, 2019). "Anti-Abortion Foe Grilled on Motives for Secretly Videotaping Doctors". courthousenews.com. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  51. ^ Atkins, Dorothy (November 12, 2019). "Activists Schemed To 'Destroy' Planned Parenthood, Jury Told". Law360.com. Retrieved November 13, 2019. The case is Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. et al. v. Center for Medical Progress et al., case number 3:16-cv-00236, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
  52. ^ Evans, Zachary (November 15, 2019). "Pro-Life Investigators Found Guilty in Lawsuit After Filming Planned Parenthood Execs Discussing Sale of Fetal Body Parts". news.yahoo.com. National Review.
  53. ^ "Legal Battles Continue to Escalate Five Years After Undercover Journalist's Abortion Exposé". Thomas More Society. July 13, 2020. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  54. ^ Dorman, Sam (May 13, 2020). "Undercover journalist suing Kamala Harris for conspiring to violate his civil rights through prosecution". Fox News. Archived from the original on May 14, 2020. Retrieved September 22, 2020.

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