Man Pleads Guilty to Rape of Ohio 10-Year-Old Who Fled to Indiana for Abortion

Gerson Fuentes will serve life in prison with the chance to apply for parole in 25 years, and the child he raped will not be forced to testify.

Man Pleads Guilty to Rape of Ohio 10-Year-Old Who Fled to Indiana for Abortion
Photo:Paul Vernon (AP)

Gerson Fuentes pleaded guilty to two counts connected to the 2022 rape of a 10-year-old girl on Wednesday in an Ohio court, according to local media. Fuentes will reportedly serve life in prison, with the chance to apply for parole in 25 years, and be be added to the sex offender registry.

Fuentes’s horrific crime became national news after Indiana-based Dr. Caitlin Bernard told local media that she had recently treated a 10-year-old from Ohio who had become pregnant from rape. Bernard provided the girl what was likely a life-saving abortion just days after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion last summer.

Bernard’s comments about her patient—which didn’t mention the girl’s name—were immediately met with derision and skepticism from anti-abortion activists and conservatives who were utterly convinced a 10-year-old couldn’t have become pregnant. Ohio’s anti-abortion Attorney General Dave Yost suggested Bernard’s case was “more likely that this is a fabrication.” In another interview, he said there were “some serious red flags about the story” along with “a ton of questions and frankly, a ton of misinformation out there too.”

Some national media outlets cast doubt on the story, too. The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board—a tool for rightwing wackos to air grievances to a massive audience—ran an op-ed declaring the Bernard’s account “An Abortion Story Too Good to Confirm.” Again, we’re talking about the rape of a child and a doctor brave enough to provide abortion in a country where providers are continually targeted and violently harassed.

Of course, the doctor’s story about the child did turn out to be true, and Fuentes was arrested for her rape last July. Police said Fuentes confessed to the assault “on at least two occasions” after being arrested. But the Ohio AG still didn’t apologize for doubting the story—he just released a statement saying, “We rejoice anytime a child rapist is taken off the streets.”

The girl’s experience has since been used to justify further abortion bans. Laura Strietmann, head of Cincinnati Right to Life, testified that even a 10-year-old’s body was “designed” for pregnancy, which is nonsense. “While a pregnancy might have been difficult on a 10-year-old body, a woman’s body is designed to carry life. That is a biological fact,” Strietmann said.

Bernard, the doctor who provided her abortion care, has been viciously targeted since speaking out. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) opened an investigation into her, alleging she didn’t follow proper mandatory reporting guidelines when dealing with child abuse. In May, the state medical board fined the doctor $3,000 and issue a letter of reprimand for her conduct. She narrowly got to keep her medical license.

Fuentes’ guilty plea on Wednesday means the victim—again, a child—will not be forced to testify about an unimaginably horrifying time in her life. That can at least count as a small win.

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