COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Columbus man was accused Wednesday of impregnating a 10-year-old girl who then had to leave Ohio for an abortion.
Gerson Fuentes, 27, was arraigned in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, charged with rape of a child under 13. He was ordered held on a $2 million bond.
The victim in the case was identified as a 10-year-old in statements made at the arraignment hearing and in a news release from Attorney General Dave Yost. It was also stated that the victim underwent an abortion procedure in Indianapolis.
According to an affidavit, a DNA swab was taken from Fuentes by Columbus police. In an interview with police, Fuentes allegedly confessed to the crime, the affidavit states. Prosecutors and police said at the hearing that Fuentes has lived in central Ohio for seven years, but he’s not an American citizen and they haven’t been able to conduct a criminal background check as a result.
It also was disclosed how Fuentes knew the victim, but the case has become a flashpoint in the abortion debate in the weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing Ohio to reenact a law prohibiting abortion after about six weeks’ gestation.
The Indianapolis Star reported this month a doctor there had been contacted by an Ohio doctor for help getting an abortion for the 10-year-old. It led to abortion advocates criticizing the Ohio law and others asking whether the story was even true.
“There is no case request for analysis that looks anything like this,” Yost said in a Fox News appearance this week.
But after the arraignment, he applauded Columbus police for arresting Fuentes.
“My heart aches for the pain suffered by this young child,” Yost said in a statement. “I am grateful for the diligent work of the Columbus Police Department in securing a confession and getting a rapist off the street.”
Watch: Arraignment of Gerson Fuentes
The anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life also cast doubt on the initial report, saying, “We really need to question the source of this.” In response to the charges, the group offered prayers to the victim but called the abortion a “band-aid solution” that “only added to the pain and violence perpetrated against her.”
On the other side, a state legislator and even President Joe Biden were horrified that the girl had to leave the state for her abortion. Ohio law does permit abortion if the mother’s life is in danger, but it’s unknown how that might have applied in this case.
“Ten years old; raped; six weeks pregnant; already traumatized,” Biden said last week. “[She] was forced to travel to another state. Imagine being that little girl.
“Does anyone believe that it’s the highest majority view that that should not be able to be dealt with, or in any other state in the nation? A 10-year-old girl should be forced to give birth to a rapist’s child? I can tell you what, I don’t. I can’t think of anything as much more extreme.”
State Sen. Tina Maharath (D-Columbus), who has sponsored legislation allowing Ohioans to sue over an unintended pregnancy, said current state law is devastating.
“I am relieved that she had the resources to leave Ohio to have a necessary medical procedure,” Maharath said.
If convicted, Fuentes could spend the rest of his life in prison. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 22.