A Columbus man has been accused of impregnating a 10-year-old Ohio girl whose trip to Indiana to request an abortion drew international attention
27-year-old Gerson Fuentes was arrested Tuesday, July 12, after he confessed to raping the 10-year-old victim, who police say had to travel from Ohio to Indiana on at least two occasions to seek an abortion. His last known address was an apartment on the northwest side of Columbus. He has since been charged with rape, a first-degree felony in Ohio. The unidentified child made national headlines when she traveled from Ohio to Indiana to obtain an abortion after the state banned the procedure after six weeks — just hours after the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision.
Fuentes was indicted on Wednesday, July 13, just days after some conservatives, including the Republican governor and Ohio Attorney General, questioned the veracity of the case. The arrest came just a day after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said his office had heard no “whispers” about the 10-year-old girl who was allegedly forced to flee the state to get an abortion and that it “No biological evidence” was given in the case because a rape sentence was not carried out. But Det. Jeffrey Huhn testified Wednesday, July 13, while indicting Fuentes that Columbus police were alerted to the girl’s pregnancy through a June 22 referral from Franklin County Children Services by her mother. Huhn indicated that the girl had a medical abortion on June 30 in Indianapolis, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Huhn also testified that DNA from the Indianapolis clinic is being compared to samples from Fuentes and the child’s siblings to confirm contribution to the aborted fetus. Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Cynthia Ebner ruled that Fuentes, who is believed to be undocumented, should not be held without bail. Ebner explained that because of Fuentes’ potential risk of absconding and for the safety of the child, a strong bond was needed. According to a probable cause statement, Huhn and Det. David Phillips took a saliva sample from Fuentes before arresting him. Fuentes is being held in the Franklin County jail after Ebner posted $2 million bail.
The case was first reported by The Indianapolis Star earlier this month, according to which a 10-year-old rape victim traveled from Ohio to Indiana to perform abortions three days after it became illegal in her home state. On Monday, June 27, three days after the Supreme Court made its landmark decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist who provides abortion services, received a call from a colleague, a child abuse doctor in Ohio. The child was then six weeks and three days pregnant.
The case quickly went viral and became a top talking point for abortion rights advocates, including President Joe Biden. “Imagine if you were that little girl,” Biden said Friday in condemning the High Court’s decision. “I’m serious. Just imagine being that little girl. This is not an imagined horror,” Biden said. “It’s already happening. Just last week it was reported that a 10-year-old girl was a rape victim — 10 years old — and she was forced to travel out of state to Indiana to terminate the pregnancy and try to possibly save her life.”
Biden slammed the Supreme Court for his decision. He described the judiciary as “out of control” and colluded with “extremist elements in the Republican Party.” While some anti-abortion activists and Republicans had dismissed the case, calling it unproven, Yost, a Republican, told Fox News anchor Jesse Watters Monday, July 11, that his office had heard “not a whisper” of a report that filed for the 10-year-old victim.
“We’re in regular contact with prosecutors, local police and sheriffs — not a whisper anywhere,” Yost said on the show. “More revealingly, Jesse, my office runs the state crime lab. In any case like this, you will have a rape kit, you will have biological evidence and you would look for DNA analysis,” he said. “There is no request for analysis of a case that looks like this,” he added.
While Yost issued a one-sentence statement on Wednesday following news of the arrest of the accused Columbus man: “We’re delighted every time a child rapist is taken off the street.” He later added that he was “absolutely delighted is that this monster was taken off the streets. If he is convicted, he should spend the rest of his life in prison.” “My heart aches for the pain this little child has endured. I am grateful for the diligent work of the Columbus Police Department in obtaining a confession and taking a rapist off the street,” the statement added. “Justice must be served and BCI stands ready to support law enforcement agencies across Ohio who are putting these criminals behind bars.”
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At the hearing on Wednesday July 13, the 10-year-old also told police that Fuentes was the father of the pregnancy, Huhn testified. Meyer said the girl recently turned 10, meaning she was likely impregnated at age 9. According to Clark Torbett, an attorney with the Office of the Franklin County Public Defender, holding Fuentes without bail is unconstitutional, especially since the father of the pregnancy is pending DNA confirmation of the pregnancy.