A Texas man has been charged with assault of a pregnant person and “assault – forced induced to have an abortion,” a new crime created under the Texas Heartbeat law, after his estranged wife accused him of slipping abortion-inducing drugs into various beverages that he then served to her.
Mason Herring, the 38-year-old founding attorney of the Herring Law Firm in Houston, has been accused of slipping abortion drugs into beverages on at least seven occasions this year and then attempting to force his wife to consume those beverages.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed on May 25, Mason Herring and his wife, Catherine Herring, had decided to separate after 11 years of marriage some time in late February after Mason admitted that he had continued a romantic relationship with a female co-worker. Mason then moved out of the family home.
However, a few weeks later, Catherine informed her husband that she was pregnant with their third child. Catherine alleged that Mason “had a negative reaction” to the news and expressed fears that a new baby would “ruin his plans and make him look like a jerk,” according to the affidavit.
Over the next several weeks, Mason allegedly began emphasizing to Catherine the importance of hydration and repeatedly attempted to compel her to drink various beverages.
On March 17, after the family had returned from a vacation together, Mason allegedly stopped by the house to give Catherine breakfast and a full glass of water. Catherine took a few sips, but then stopped because she thought the water appeared cloudy. Mason blamed the cloudiness on a dirty glass or dirty pipes, took the glass, and left the residence.
Within a half-hour, Catherine claimed she became violently ill with diarrhea and that she eventually began to bleed heavily, “much like having her period,” the affidavit stated. She went to the hospital, but doctors could not determine the cause of her illness. However, Catherine began to suspect that Mason had slipped her an abortion-inducing drug.
Catherine alleged that then Mason offered her a spiked beverage on at least six other occasions: March 18, March 21, March 22, April 20, April 21, and April 26. She also stated that she invited two witnesses to her residence on April 20, and that both witnesses confirmed that the drink Mason handed her that day “contained an unknown substance floating in it,” the affidavit claimed.
Catherine also noted that on April 24, she discovered in the garbage, which Mason had deposited at the curb of the family residence, “open blister packs” of Cyrux, a Mexican drug containing Misoprostol, an abortion-inducing drug. She had also installed cameras in the family residence and alleged that on April 26, surveillance footage captured on the camera showed Mason dumping contents from a Ziploc bag into a beverage, which he then attempted to serve her in her bedroom.
Catherine claimed that she did not consume any of the proffered beverages after that first glass of cloudy water she drank on March 17. Assistant district attorney Anthony Osso claimed that six of the beverages Mason served Catherine between mid-March and late April were sent to a lab for testing, and at least two of them revealed the presence of Misoprostol.
“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.”
Mason Herring was arrested at the airport after he flew in from Las Vegas, though the exact date of his arrest is unclear. He has since been released on $30,000 bond and is expected to appear in court again on December 2.
Mason’s attorney, Dan Cogdell, issued the following statement following his client’s indictment: “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.”
Mason Herring remains the first and only person in Harris County to be charged with assault-force induction to have an abortion, according to KTRK-TV. That third-degree felony charge came into being with the Texas Heartbeat law, which went into effect on September 1, 2021. The law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, typically around six weeks, and also prohibits assault against “a pregnant individual to force the individual to have an abortion.”