COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – As a 10-year-old rape victim and her family deal with the trauma of rape, they must also deal with the political firestorm swirling around her case.
This is especially after Ohio Attorney General David Yost appeared on national television to cast doubt on the veracity of a doctor’s account of an Ohio child crossing state lines for an abortion.
Yost’s opponent in November, Jeffrey Crossman, is weighing in.
“All he had to do was make some phone calls and get the information and he could have realized that this was the truth,” Crossman said. “That this was a true story, that this person had been victimized, and instead, he got on national TV and further victimized a 10-year-old by calling her a liar.”
On Tuesday, Yost appeared on Fox News, saying there isn’t a scintilla of evidence that the victim was raped or forced to go to Indiana for an abortion. On Wednesday, an arrest in the case was made.
Crossman said he is angry that Yost also claimed the girl could get an abortion in Ohio.
During his Fox News appearance, Yost said if the girl exists, it breaks his heart, but she did not have to leave Ohio for medical treatment.
“This young girl, if she exists and if this horrible thing happened to her, it breaks my heart to think about it,” he said. “She did not have to leave Ohio to find treatment.”
In a statement issued by Yost Wednesday, the attorney general offered condolences to the child and her family, but did not mention abortion.
“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.
Justice must be served and BCI stands ready to support law enforcement across Ohio putting these criminals behind bars.”Full statement from Ohio Attorney General David Yost
“He clearly didn’t even understand the law because he was claiming on Fox News that 10-year-old victims of rape had the right to seek an abortion, which is absolutely not true,” Crossman said. “There’s no exceptions in Ohio law, which is why I opposed the bill in 2019.”
NBC4 asked Yost’s office what section of the Heartbeat Law he referred to when claiming there was an exception for the 10-year-old. They pointed to a section that refers to the possible death of the mother or serious irreversible harm.
There is nothing to indicate that exception would apply in this case, and there was no way for Yost to know her medical condition since, at the time of his statement, he expressed doubt about whether she even existed.
Other Republicans, including Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, also publicly called the story a lie in a tweet he has since deleted, but his political opponent is getting political mileage by re-tweeting it.
When asked for comment, Jordan’s office pointed to a new tweet posted after Wednesday’s arraignment of the suspect, Gershon Fuentes, saying Fuentes should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law when tweeting a National Review article.
Both parties are expected to campaign for or against private reproductive rights, but Crossman insists most Ohioans are in agreement that, at the very least, there should be exceptions for the life of the mother, incest, and rape.
“It’s completely out of step,” Crossman said. “Our legislature is out of step, our governor is out of step with where Ohio is. This is not what Ohioans want. Ohioans know this is wrong for Ohio and it’s going to lead Ohio down a really bad path.”
Crossman said he believes the only way abortion rights can be protected in Ohio is to put a constitutional amendment for privacy and reproduction freedom on the ballot.
NBC4 invited Yost to talk to us and answer questions about the case, but his office declined.