Indiana doctor who provided abortion services to 10-year-old rape victim reported procedure to health department, documents show
Indiana’s Republican attorney general said Thursday that authorities in his state are investigating — for potential failure to report the procedure and child abuse — a doctor who said she recently helped a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio obtain an abortion in Indiana, even as the attack already had been reported by the girl’s mother and Ohio police were investigating.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis-based Ob-Gyn, reported the abortion procedure to the Indiana Department of Health on July 2, three days after the abortion was performed, as required by the department, according to documents obtained from the agency by CNN.
Bernard told CNN earlier this month that she helped the girl after Ohio banned abortion as early as six weeks of gestation following the US Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. The young girl was raped in early May and police in Columbus were first alerted of her pregnancy on June 22, according to police documents and court testimony. A little more than a week later, the girl underwent an abortion in Indiana.
According to Indiana law, an abortion procedure performed on a person younger than 16 years of age must be reported to the state’s department of health and also to the department of child services within three days after the abortion is performed.
In a statement Thursday, Attorney General Todd Rokita said he is investigating whether Bernard reported the abortion and abuse, as is required under Indiana law. Rokita first made the announcement Wednesday on Fox News.
“The failure to do so constitutes a crime in Indiana, and her behavior could also affect her licensure. Additionally, if a HIPAA violation did occur, that may affect next steps as well. I will not relent in the pursuit of the truth,” Rokita said in the statement.
HIPAA — or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — sets privacy standards for protecting patients’ personal medical information.
Since obtaining the documents filed by Bernard with the health department, CNN followed up with Rokita’s office and they issued an additional statement: “As we stated, we are gathering evidence from multiple sources and agencies related to these allegations. Our legal review of it remains open.”
CNN has reached out to the Indiana State Department of Child Services to inquire if Bernard also filed the report with their office.
In a statement, Bernard’s attorney said her client “took every appropriate and proper action in accordance with the law and both her medical and ethical training as a physician.”
“She followed all relevant policies, procedures, and regulations in this case, just as she does every day to provide the best possible care for her patients,” attorney Kathleen DeLaney said. “She has not violated any law, including patient privacy laws, and she has not been disciplined by her employer.”
CNN has reached out to the attorney general of Ohio for comment.
A Columbus, Ohio, man was charged this week with raping the girl, according to court proceedings CNN obtained through affiliate WBNS.
Gerson Fuentes, 27, was arrested Tuesday, according to Columbus police and court documents. He has been charged with felony rape of a minor under age 13, according to the Franklin County Municipal Court. Fuentes is being held on $2 million bond following his first court appearance Wednesday, according to the court. CNN has reached out to his attorney for comment.
The case has attracted international attention. Bernard told CNN in early July she helped the Ohio girl obtain an abortion in Indiana after she was contacted by a child abuse doctor in neighboring Ohio. The girl was six weeks and three days into the pregnancy, the doctor said July 4.
US political officials since then have referenced those details, with some Democrats pointing to it as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, while some Republicans expressed doubt about the case or whether the girl even existed.
Fuentes confessed to police Tuesday he raped the young girl at least twice, Det. Jeffrey Huhn testified Wednesday at Fuentes’ arraignment. He “spoke with us and admitted to having vaginal intercourse with the victim on no less than two occasions” and then was arrested, he said.
Police first were alerted to the child’s pregnancy in late June through a referral by a local children’s services department that was made by the 10-year-old’s mother, Huhn testified. The incident reported to police happened May 12, according to a police affidavit. Columbus police were notified of it June 22 and began their investigation that day.
The girl underwent a medical abortion in Indianapolis on June 30, Huhn testified.
The girl on July 6 identified Fuentes as her assailant, and police on Tuesday with a search warrant obtained a swab of Fuentes’ saliva DNA, the affidavit states. Fuentes that day went to police headquarters for questioning where he confessed to raping the minor, it says.
DNA from the Indianapolis clinic was being tested against samples from Fuentes and the child’s siblings, the detective said.
Fuentes’ next court appearance is July 22, court documents show. He is an undocumented immigrant, a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson confirmed to CNN.
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