COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The man accused of impregnating a 10-year-old Ohio girl made his initial plea Monday in court.
Gerson Fuentes, 27, faces two charges of raping a minor under 13 after being indicted by a Franklin County Grand Jury. For the second time he appeared by video call, rather than in-person, for his arraignment in the Court of Common Pleas. His attorney who was there in person, Bryan Bowen, spoke on Fuentes’ behalf to enter pleas of not guilty to both charges.
Bowen previously represented Fuentes alone at his preliminary hearing Friday, where he told NBC4 that his client was afraid.
“I met with him yesterday at the Franklin County Jail down on Jackson Pike,” Bowen said. “He’s obviously scared. He’s obviously concerned. He’s obviously upset about the situation.”
Fuentes’ plea claiming he is not guilty breaks step with investigators’ account of the case. According to an affidavit, Columbus police took a DNA swab from Fuentes. In an interview with police, he allegedly confessed to the crime.
Before concluding the arraignment, the Franklin County judge presiding over the case did not schedule a bond hearing, because a prosecutor in the courtroom said the state planned to file a motion to hold Fuentes without bond.
The indictment brought forward two charges of rape against Fuentes, saying he committed the acts against the girl when she was nine. The first incident happened between Jan. 1 and May 11, and the report said the second happened May 12.
In the weeks after Roe v. Wade had been overturned, Fuentes’ case drew national attention in the debate over abortion rights. Shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the federal rule, Ohio reenacted a law banning abortion after someone was six weeks’ pregnant, commonly known as the heartbeat bill.
Prior to Fuentes’ arrest, a story of a 10-year-old girl traveling from Ohio to Indiana — repeated by even President Joe Biden — was challenged by politicians like Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and groups like Ohio Right to Life. When police confirmed in court that Fuentes’ victim went to Indianapolis for an abortion, and they had the fetus available for DNA testing, the debate changed to whether the 10-year-old could have legally had the procedure in her own state.