INDIANAPOLIS —Indiana's attorney general has initiated an investigation into the Indianapolis doctor who allegedly performed an abortion for a young rape victim from Ohio.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard's story has garnered national attention since the Indianapolis Star first connected her to the 10-year-old victim.
Attorney General Todd Rokita issued a statement on Thursday afternoon vowing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the abortion and whether or not the proper reports were filed.
“Aside from the horror caused here by illegal immigration, we are investigating this situation and are waiting for the relevant documents to prove if the abortion and/or the abuse were reported, as Dr. Caitlin Bernard had requirements to do both under Indiana law. 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 also included a copy of the "request for information" letter that his office sent to Gov. Holcomb's office.
"A physician presented with a pregnant pre-teen — a victim of sexual assault — must report the assault to law enforcement immediately. One who aborts the pregnancy of such a rape victim must within three days file a report of the abortion with both the Indiana Department of Health and the Indiana Department of Child Services," the request states.
"If Dr. Bernard has failed to file the required reports on time, she has committed an offense, the consequences of which could include criminal prosecution and licensing repercussions."
You can read Rokita's full letter of request to the governor's office HERE.
Bernard, an Indianapolis-based obstetrician-gynecologist, tweeted a statement of support for victims on Wednesday — the same day it was first reported a man had been charged with the child's rape.
"My heart breaks for all survivors of sexual assault and abuse. I am so sad that our country is failing them when they need us most. Doctors must be able to give people the medical care they need, when and where they need it," Bernard wrote.
On Thursday, Kathleen DeLaney of DeLaney & DeLaney LLC released the following statement:
"My client, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, 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. She has not violated any law, including patient privacy laws, and she has not been disciplined by her employer. We are considering legal action against those who have smeared my client, including Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, and know that the facts will all come out in due time.”
WRTV has not independently verified that the Bernard is the same doctor who performed the 10-year-old's abortion.
WRTV filed a public records request on Thursday with the Indiana State Department of Health for information about the alleged abortion. IDOH provided the following response.
Indiana Code § 16-34 contains Indiana’s abortion laws. Specifically, Indiana Code § 16-34-2-5 outlines the requirement that all terminated pregnancies in Indiana be reported to the Indiana Department of Health’s Division of Vital Records.
The Indiana Department of Health has regulatory authority over facilities we license, not individual practitioners. If we receive a complaint against a facility, we conduct a survey to determine whether the complaint is substantiated. Complaints about an individual practitioner would be handled by the Professional Licensing Agency or Medical Licensing Board.
Reporting of suspected child abuse falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Child Services, so please contact that agency with questions on this topic.
WRTV has also filed requests for information with the Department of Child Services, the Medical Licensing Board, IU Health, the Professional Licensing Agency, Indiana Medical Association and Bernard's office.
A police detectivetestified in court on Wednesday that the child had to travel to Indiana between June 29 and July 2 for the procedure.
When Roe v. Wade was overturned, the state of Ohio implemented the "Heartbeat Bill," which does not allow abortions in the state after six weeks. Ten-year-olds who become pregnant are, by definition, rape victims, but Ohio’s abortion law does not make exceptions for rape.
President Joe Biden addressed the case during a speech Friday, during which he signed an executive order on abortion access.
"Imagine being that little girl," Biden said as he criticized the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the decades-long precedent established by Roe v. Wade. "I’m serious. Just imagine being that little girl. Ten years old!"
Authorities say 27-year-old Gerson Fuente, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of the rape of a minor. According to investigators, Fuente confessed to Columbus police that he raped the girl after they obtained a DNA sample from him.
READ | 10-year-old Ohio girl traveled to Indiana for abortion after rape, investigators say
Franklin County Municipal Court records confirm the age of the victim and say that Fuentes confessed to Columbus Police that he raped the girl. The confession came after they obtained a DNA sample from him, authorities said.
Bernard's Tweet came after Rokita appeared on Fox News saying he plans to investigate whether she failed to report the girl's rape to authorities.
Rokita told Fox News Wednesday he was considering seeking a suspension of her medical license.
"... We're gathering the information, we're gathering the evidence as we speak, and we're going to fight this to the end — including looking at her licensure ..." Rokita said.
"This is a child," Rokita continued. "There's a strong public interest in understanding if someone under the age of 16 or under the age of 18 — or really any woman is having an abortion in our state. And then, if a child is being sexually abused, of course, parents need to know, authorities need to know, public policy experts need to know. We all need to know as citizens of a free republic so we can stop this."
WRTV has also reached out to Rokita's office and Bernard for comment and are waiting to hear back.
This story was originally published by WRTV in Indianapolis, Indiana.