Gerson Fuentes, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of rape of a child under 10 and one count of rape in Franklin County court Wednesday afternoon, a year after the girl’s out-of-state abortion made national headlines. Fuentes originally pleaded not guilty after being arrested last July.
The prosecution and defense recommended a combined sentence of life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 25 years, Franklin County Prosecutor Dan Meyer said at the hearing. Fuentes will be a lifetime registered sex offender upon release.
Despite her inclinations, Judge Julie Lynch sentenced Fuentes to the recommended sentence “without comment,” per the child’s family’s wishes.
“Anyone who’s been in this court room for the last 20 years knows how this court feels about babies, young people, being violated,” Lynch said.
The story gained national attention when, in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning national protection of abortion rights, the victim was taken across state lines because of questions about whether she could legally obtain an abortion in Ohio.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost — who initially questioned early reporting on the 10-year-old’s out-of-state travels during an appearance on FOX News — joined anti-abortion groups in arguing that the 10-year-old would have been eligible for an abortion in Ohio because of the “substantial harm” exception in the state’s six-week abortion ban.
Medical records indicated that the child underwent an abortion in Indiana on June 30, 2022. By July 2, Columbus police were at the Indianapolis hospital to investigate the girl’s pregnancy, prosecutor Daniel Lenert said at the hearing.
By late July, police suspected Fuentes of the rape. Police claimed he confessed to raping the girl twice when she was 9 years old. DNA evidence confirmed that Fuentes was responsible, Meyer said.
Meyer said that he consulted with the victim’s mother before finalizing the plea agreement, adding that she “is not objecting” to the plea or sentence.
Fuentes is not a U.S. citizen and may be subject to deportation.