Where are the lawsuits?

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on February 9, 2011

For the past week Live Action has been releasing video after video showing Planned Parenthood employees in New Jersey, New York and Virginia offering advice to a couple posing as sex traffickers of underage girls on how to keep their business running when their “employees” come down with sexually transmitted diseases or get pregnant.

In response, Planned Parenthood has fired one employee, announced they will retrain their staff, and accused Live Action of doctoring their hidden camera videos.

In the past, Live Action’s Lila Rose has produced undercover video of Planned Parenthood employees coaching young girls on what to say so they don’t have to report their adult boyfriends to the police on charges of statutory rape.

Put this all together and my question is simply this: Why has a lawsuit not been brought against Planned Parenthood under RICO? For those of you who’ve forgotten, Operation Rescue (an organization whose goals I support, but tactics I don’t) was hit with several RICO lawsuits in the 1980s and racked up huge legal bills.

RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, would appear to allow a creative lawyer to go after Planned Parenthood as a corrupt organization.

Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes—27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes—within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of "racketeering activity.

Among the crimes, obstruction of justice—aiding sex slavery and statutory rape by failing to report them to police—would appear to be the easiest to prove.

Such an attempt to use RICO in this fashion wouldn’t be unheard of. Prosecutors in 2002 attempted to bring RICO charges against Catholic bishops in Cleveland during the sex abuse scandal, but the grand jury rejected those charges.

So, any lawyers want to help me out here? Have RICO suits fallen into disfavor? Is such a lawsuit too much of a stretch? I’ll concede that chances for success are relatively slim, but it seems that if some lawyer wanted to bleed Planned Parenthood this could be useful.

7 comments on “Where are the lawsuits?”

    1. The government. RICO has provisions for private party lawsuits in addition to state or federal officials. The case with the Cleveland archdiocese was state prosecutors.

  1. (Not a lawyer but...)

    If I recall correctly from the ACORN video situation, the issue is that the Live Action people aren't actually running a sex slavery ring, and therefore there's no crime to report.

    So while they may not technically be committing a crime, these films will hopefully serve as impetus to have Planned Parenthood starved of funding.

    1. I'm not a lawyer either, but Planned Parenthood didn't know that the Live Action people weren't actually running a sex slavery ring. The crime is in the failure to report. The law doesn't expect them to investigate to determine if the pimp and prostitute were telling the truth. The law expects them to report to authorities if they have reason to believe a minor is being used as a sex slave, or, in the earlier sting videos, if statutory rape is taking place.

  2. As a lawyer, although admittedly not having dealt with RICO, not sure how this would work. Are you suggesting the Federal government would sue for damages as a private party plaintiff in a civil lawsuit to recover funds Congress gave to Planned Parenthood? Or do you mean bringing criminal charges against Planned Parenthood?

  3. Not sure if this is relevant to the Live Action issue but this is the source of my earlier post.

    From the CA. AG report on ACORN-

    "In order to be liable as an aider and abettor, the perpetrators (in this case, O’Keefe and Giles) must have actually committed the planned or underlying crime. (See CALCRIM No. 401; People v. Perez (2005) 35

    Cal.4th 1219, 1225.) Similarly, conspiracy culpability would require a finding that not only the ACORN employee, but also O’Keefe and Giles (the coconspirators), intended to enter into an agreement and intended to commit the target crime of that agreement. (CALCRIM No. 415;

    People v. Vargas (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 506, 551.)"


  4. Regarding the ACORN bit- it does NOT apply at Planned Parenthood. In previous years, I worked in a County primary care clinic. During that time, this same exact issue (failure to report statutory rape) was investigated and reported by a group called Life Dynamics http://www.lifedynamics.com At that time, I called up to the Attorney General's office and had them fax me the law as it pertained to this issue. I was "just" a lowly clerical worker- but I saw that we had the same potential liability as did Planned Parenthood (as we had an county run once a week "drop in" STD treatment and prevention clinic). I knew that when I signed all my obligatory papers at the time I started employment that I had to read and sign that I WAS a mandated child and elder abuse reporter by virtue of working for the county. Yet, we had never ever addressed this issue. Based on the information and law as it was explained- all medical and childcare providers are REQUIRED TO REPORT SUSPECTED EVIDENCE of abuse. NOT PROOF. We are not required to KNOW if a crime has happened, only what we reasonably is abuse, including statutory rape. While there are variances in the states, all 50 states are consistent in those basic facts (and as a common standard in all 50 states a girl aged 13, with a man aged 21 or older is always stat. rape- some have laws where a girl may be under 16 or 18 and some do not included men under 21 or there must be a certain age disparity between the two parties... but 13 and 21 is ALWAYS illegal).

    All that is required for any abortion clinic and/or Planned Parenthood to be held liable is for A) an state's attorney general to take action or B) a local DA to get involved. Oh but politics.....that's why very little action has been taken. A few states have persued this issue. California has not done ANY.THING.


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