Arrest in rape of an Ohio girl that led to an abortion in Indiana that drew international attention

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TO UPDATEA man whose arrest further confirmed the existence of a 10-year-old Columbus girl who traveled across state lines seeking an abortion has now been charged with allegedly raping and impregnating her.

Original story below:

A Columbus man has been charged with getting pregnant a 10-year-old Ohio girl whose trip to Indiana to seek an abortion sparked international attention following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade and the abortion law of Ohio.

Gerson Fuentes, 27, whose last known address was an apartment on the northwest side of Columbus, was arrested Tuesday after police confessed to raping the child at least twice. He has since been charged with rape, a first-degree felony in Ohio.

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The Columbus Police Department was notified of the girl’s pregnancy through a Franklin County Children Services referral made June 22 by her mother, Det. Jeffrey Huhn testified Wednesday morning at Fuentes’ arraignment. On June 30, the girl underwent a medical abortion in Indianapolis, Huhn said.

Huhn also testified that TUSEN from the Indianapolis clinic is being tested against samples from Fuentes, as well as the child’s siblings, to confirm contribution to the aborted fetus.

Abortion of a 10-year-old girlIndiana OB-GYN responds on Twitter

Ohio Attorney General: Ohio AG Dave Yost questions 10-year-old rape victim case, now ‘rejoicesu0022 upon arrest’

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Cynthia Ebner said the case does not warrant Fuentes — who is believed to be undocumented — to be held without bail.

However, Ebner said a high bail was necessary because Fuentes poses a potential flight risk and for the safety of the child involved. Before they were arrested, Huhn and Det. David Phillips collected a saliva sample from Fuentes, according to a statement of probable cause.

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Ebner posted $2 million bail for Fuentes, who is being held at the Franklin County Jail.

Indictments further corroborate the narrative that has become the flashpoint of the abortion debate

The Columbus detective’s indictments and testimony confirm the disturbing story that has become a major flashpoint in the national furor over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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The Indianapolis Star, a Gannett sister newspaper of The Dispatch, first reported earlier this month that a 10-year-old rape victim traveled from Ohio to Indiana for abortion services after most abortions in her home state became illegal. The report was attributed to Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis physician who provides abortion services.

Opinion: Shameful Dave Yost jumped in the mud to question case of 10-year-old who got abortion

The story quickly went viral, appearing in outlets around the world and becoming a major talking point for abortion rights supporters, including President Joe Biden.

“Imagine being that little girl,” Biden said Friday as he decried the Supreme Court’s decision. ‘I mean it. Imagine being that little girl.’

But in recent days, some abortion opponents, Republican politicians and news outlets have criticized the story as unproven.

The story was questioned by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on TUSEN News

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost questioned the account’s validity during an appearance on TUSEN News this week.

Yost, a Republican, told TUSEN News host Jesse Watters his office had heard “not a whisper” of a report filed for the 10-year-old victim.

“We are in regular contact with prosecutors and local police and sheriffs — not a whisper anywhere,” Yost said on the show.

Yost reiterated that in an interview with the USA TODAY Network Ohio bureau on Tuesday, saying that the more time passed before confirmation made it “more likely that this is a fabrication.”

“I know the police and prosecutors in this state,” Yost said. “There isn’t one of them who wouldn’t turn every stone, looking for this man and they would have attacked him. They wouldn’t let him roam the streets… I’m not saying it couldn’t have happened What I want you saying is that there isn’t a shred of evidence.’

On Wednesday, as news broke of the arraignment of the Columbus man charged with raping the child, Yost issued a single sentence statement:

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“We rejoice every time a child molester is taken off the streets.”

He later added that he is “absolutely thrilled that this monster has been taken off the streets. If convicted, he will have to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Hear details of investigation, concerns about suspect

At Wednesday’s hearing, Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Dan Meyer requested that Fuentes be held without bail. He said Fuentes is reportedly not legally in the country and there are questions about his identity.

Huhn testified that detectives spoke to Fuentes, through an interpreter, and Fuentes admitted to having had sexual contact with the girl. An interpreter was also used during Wednesday’s hearing.

The 10-year-old also told police Fuentes was the father of the pregnancy, Huhn testified. Meyer said the girl had recently turned 10, meaning she was likely impregnated at age 9.

Clark Torbett, an attorney with the Franklin County Public Defender’s office, said it was unconstitutional to hold Fuentes without bond, especially since TUSEN confirmation of the father’s pregnancy is still pending.

He said Fuentes had lived in Columbus for the past seven years and had a steady job at a cafe. He also had an address where he could live that was not in the same location as the 10-year-old.

If convicted, Fuentes faces a life sentence.

Data shows the frequency of reports of child sexual abuse

An analysis of Columbus police reports filed since May 9 found 50 reports of rape or sexual abuse involving girls 15 or younger. That number of reports may also be underreported due to restrictions on public records regarding reports initiated by mandated reporters. The declaration of the 10-year-old girl falls into that category.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, there were 52 abortions in children age 15 or younger in Ohio in 2020, accounting for 0.3% of the 20,605 abortions performed that year. Health Department records show there were 63 such procedures in 2019, 54 in 2018, 61 in 2017 and 76 in 2016.

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Data from 2021 is not yet available.

Indiana lawmakers expected to enact an abortion ban

The ability of Ohio residents to seek abortion services in Indiana could soon be curtailed.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, a Republican, has called a special legislative session scheduled for July 25. Republicans, who hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly, have pledged to introduce new abortion restrictions.

Legislative leaders are tight-lipped about what the legislation will look like. They have not said whether their abortion proposal will allow waivers for rape, incest or the pregnant person’s life, or at what point in a pregnancy they will ban abortion.

Reporters asked Holcomb Tuesday about the case of the 10-year-old rape survivor. He called it a “horrific example” but declined to say if he felt comfortable banning abortions in cases involving young rape victims.

“I reserve comment until we see a bill,” he said.

Will Ohio Republicans Ban Nearly All Abortions? Can someone stop it?

There will likely be a ban on nearly all abortions in Ohio.

The GOP-controlled Ohio General Assembly is expected to ban abortions even earlier than the current six-week ban, with no exception for victims of rape or incest.

Lawmakers are still debating when abortion would be banned, but previous proposals blocked the post-fertilization procedure, which could ban some contraception.

Republicans, who have veto-proof majorities in the Ohio House and Senate, have the votes to pass such a ban without any Democratic support.

Dispatch reporters Laura Bischoff and Eric Lagatta contributed to this story.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly added an “H” to the spelling of the defendant’s first name.

Bethany Bruner handles crime and public safety for the Columbus Dispatch.

[email protected]

@bethany_bruner

Monroe Trombly covers the latest and trending news for The Columbus Dispatch.

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@Monroe Trombly

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus man accused of raping 10-year-old that led to abortion

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