Newspaper article International New York Times

Abortion Fighters Indicted over Sting ; Planned Parenthood Is Cleared of Wrongdoing by Texas Grand Jury

Newspaper article International New York Times

Abortion Fighters Indicted over Sting ; Planned Parenthood Is Cleared of Wrongdoing by Texas Grand Jury

Article excerpt

A grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of allegations of misconduct, instead indicting its opponents on charges including tampering with a governmental record.

A grand jury here that was investigating accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood has instead indicted two abortion opponents who made undercover videos of the organization.

Prosecutors in Harris County said one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress -- an anti-abortion group that made secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue - - had been indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.

That leader, David R. Daleiden, 27, the director of the center, had posed as a biotechnology representative to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and surreptitiously record his efforts to procure tissue for research. Another center employee, Sandra S. Merritt, 62, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record. The record-tampering charges appeared to involve their use of fake identification.

Abortion opponents claimed that the videos, which were released starting in July, revealed that Planned Parenthood was engaged in the illegal sale of body parts -- a charge that the organization has denied and that has not been supported in numerous congressional and state investigations triggered by the release of the videos.

On Monday, the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, said in a statement that grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. She declined to provide details about the case against Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt, including any documents or evidence presented to the grand jury, citing state law on the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.

"As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us," Ms. Anderson said. "All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."

In a statement on Monday night, Mr. …

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