HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston attorney is the first and only person in Harris County to face a charge of forcing induction to have an abortion.
Mason Herring is the founder and managing partner of the Herring Law Firm, which focuses on energy and natural resources.
Prosecutors allege he put an abortion-inducing drug in the water he gave his wife on more than one occasion.
Anthony Osso, the assistant district attorney in the domestic violence division assigned to this case, said the couple separated earlier in 2022 but were working on their marriage. In February, Herring learned his wife was pregnant with their baby.
"My understanding is that it wasn't well-received by (Herring)," Osso said. "That came out through marriage counseling, as well as through text messages later on."
Following the news, the woman said Herring lectured her on staying hydrated while pregnant.
"On the morning of March 17, the defendant, Mr. Herring, goes by the house to bring breakfast and asks if he can bring her water in bed," Osso said. "Again, (he) is talking to her about needing to stay hydrated. He says, 'If you don't do so, I'm not leaving.' She thought it was odd. She thought the water was cloudy. She questioned him a little bit, but, nonetheless, did drink the water, and then he leaves and takes that cup."
The woman became violently ill shortly after and ended up in the hospital. Doctors could not pinpoint what was wrong, according to Osso.
From then on, the woman was suspicious based on Herring's reaction to the news of her pregnancy. She did not drink the water Herring was giving her, but kept it as evidence.
She set up cameras at their home, where he was no longer living.
"(On April 24), she checks the garbage cans and finds in the garbage can a pharmaceutical called Cyrux, which contains Misoprostol, which is a drug used to induce abortions," Osso said.
Two days later, cameras inside their kitchen caught Herring putting a powdered substance into a glass and making a drink, according to Osso. The woman said her husband brought her the drink after.
The pregnant woman contacted the police after that, and shortly after, Herring was charged with assaulting a pregnant person and assault-force induction to have an abortion.
He was arrested on a warrant at the airport after returning from Las Vegas.
Herring is the first and only person in Harris County to be charged with assault-force induction to have an abortion. The statute came into play after abortions were outlawed in the state of Texas. It carries a sentence of two to 10 years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine.
Six of the water samples the woman saved were tested in a lab in Oklahoma, and Osso said at least two were shown to have a presence of Misoprostol.
It's unclear how Herring got the prescription drug.
"It's manipulative," Osso said. "It's pre-meditated. What we are alleging Mr. Herring did, which we believe the evidence supports, is a pretty heinous act. To do that to someone who trusts you, it's taking advantage of that trust. "
Osso said the woman ended up having the baby slightly prematurely, but the baby is now healthy and doing well.
Herring is out on a $30,000 bond. His attorney, Dan Cogdell, issued the following statement:
"We are aware that the Grand Jury has returned these charges. That said, we very much look forward to our day in court and are thoroughly convinced that we will prevail in a Court of law when our time comes to defend these allegations. Until that day comes, I don't intend to comment any publicly any further."
Herring is due back in court on Dec. 2.