UPDATE: The Franklin County Grand Jury returned an indictment on July 21 charging Fuentes with two counts of rape.
COLUMBUS, Ohio —A Columbus man has been charged with raping and impregnating a 10-year-old girl whose travel to Indiana to seek an abortion attracted worldwide media attention following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Gerson Fuentes, 27, was arrested on Tuesday after police said he confessed to raping the 10-year-old girl on at least two occasions. Fuentes, whose last known address was an apartment in Columbus, has been charged with rape, a first degree felony in Ohio.
Fuentes is being held on a $2 million bond.
A Columbus detective testified that the 10-year-old told police that Fuentes was responsible for her pregnancy. Fuentes complied with a search warrant for his DNA and admitted to having sexual intercourse with the victim on no less than two occasions. According to Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Dan Meyer, the girl had only recently turned 10 and was likely impregnated at 9 years old.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that police were first made aware of the girl’s pregnancy by the Franklin County Children Services on June 22. On June 30, the 10-year-old underwent a medical abortion in Indianapolis, according to the court hearing.
The detective also testified that a DNA test from the Indianapolis clinic is being tested against samples from Fuentes.
The Indianapolis Star previously reported on the girl traveling to Indiana to seek an abortion. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, several states, including Ohio, passed bans on abortions. Ohio’s law banned abortions after six weeks.
National Attention and Skepticism
The story of the 10-year-old rape victim becoming pregnant and having to travel out of state for an abortion due to Ohio’s abortion ban became a worldwide story that drew a lot of national outcry in reaction to the decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The story was even referenced by President Joe Biden when he decried the Supreme Court’s decision.
Recently, some abortion opponents and news outlets criticized the story and even declared it to be untrue.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost went on Fox News and questioned the validity of the story earlier this week. Yost, a Republican, told Fox News that his office hadn’t heard “a whisper” of a report being filed.
Yost then interviewed with USA Today where he doubled down on his questioning of the story and said, “more likely that this is a fabrication.”
“I know the cops and prosecutors in this state,” Yost said. “There’s not one of them that wouldn’t be turning over every rock, looking for this guy and they would have charged him. They wouldn’t leave him loose on the streets … I’m not saying it could not have happened. What I’m saying to you is there is not a damn scintilla of evidence.”
On Wednesday, after the news broke of Fuentes’s arrest for the crime, Yost issued a brief statement stating, “My heart aches for the pain suffered by this young child. I am grateful for the diligent work of the Columbus Police Department in securing a confession and getting a rapist off the street.”
Yost’s statement did not include any references to his recent doubts and questioning of the story’s validity.
While the 10-year-old girl had been granted an abortion in Indiana after becoming a victim of rape, the Hoosier state’s future on abortion is in doubt. A legislative special session scheduled for July 25 will address abortion laws in Indiana in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Governor Eric Holcomb has previously stated he had “no red lines” when it comes to limits on abortion in Indiana.
When Holcomb was asked on Tuesday about the 10-year-old Ohio girl, he called the situation a “horrifying example” but didn’t elaborate further on if the case would affect future Indiana abortion legislation.