Planned Parenthood and its California affiliates filed suit today for damages — including treble damages under civil racketeering laws — against organizations and individuals they contend launched an antiabortion smear campaign with edited videos and false accusations about fetal tissue donation practices.
The 65-page complaint, filed in federal court in San Francisco, opens with this:
This complaint details a complex criminal enterprise conceived and executed by anti-abortion extremists. The express aim of the enterprise — which stretched over years and involved fake companies, fake identifications, and large-scale illegal taping — was to demonize Planned Parenthood, harass and intimidate its dedicated staff, and interrupt its operations, all with the ultimate goal of interfering with w omen’s access to legal abortion.
Named as defendants are the Center for Medical Progress, Biomax Procurement Services LLC, David Daleiden (aka Robert Sarkis), Troy Newman, Albin Rhomberg, Phillip S. Cronin, Sandra Susan Merritt (aka Susan Tennebaum) and Gerardo Adrian Lopez.
The organization alleges that the named individuals created a fake company, Biomax, which held itself out as a legitimate fetal tissue procurement company, created fake identifications and stole one woman’s identity to gain access into Planned Parenthood conferences and facilities and then used hidden cameras to tape hundreds of hours of conversations with staff.
They then created YouTube videos purporting to show organization officials violating federal law relating to tissue donation. Forensic analysis confirms that “the videos were heavily manipulated, with critical content deliberately deleted and disconnected portions sewn together to create a misleading impression,” the group alleges in the complaint.
The videos had the intended effect, the group continues — leading millions of people to believe that Planned Parenthood had engaged in in illegal behavior, subjecting staff to harassment and attacks, and spurring state and federal investigations.
Read the complaint here.