COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio grand jury on Thursday indicted on two counts of rape the man accused of impregnating a 10-year-old Columbus, Ohio, girl who traveled across state lines to seek an abortion.
The arrest and now the indictment of Gerson Fuentes, 27, further confirmed the existence of the 10-year-old rape victim who was forced to seek an abortion in Indiana and brought international attention to Ohio’s so-called “heartbeat” law.
Fuentes was arrested July 12 after police say he confessed to sexually assaulting the girl on at least two occasions. The girl became pregnant and because of Ohio’s restrictions on abortion — which do not include exceptions for rape or incest — traveled to Indiana to have the pregnancy medically terminated on June 30.
The girl’s case has become a lightning rod for debate surrounding abortion restrictions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court on June 24. Some, including Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, had publicly doubted the girl’s existence and the validity of the case following initial reporting from The Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network. GOP Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan had even gone so far as to call it “another lie” in a tweet that he later deleted after The Dispatch first reported the charges against Fuentes.
Fuentes has been held in the Franklin County jail in lieu of a $2 million bond. Prosecutors had initially sought to have him held without bond, but a Franklin County Municipal Court judge determined that bond should be set at $2 million.
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DNA from a sample obtained by Columbus police from Fuentes, through a search warrant, is being compared to material collected from the Indianapolis clinic where the abortion took place.
According to court records and testimony from Columbus police Det. Jeffrey Huhn, Fuentes allegedly confessed to sexually assaulting the girl on at least two occasions between January and May 12. The two charges of rape in the indictment relate to those two incidents.
Fuentes is believed to have had a relationship with the girl’s family.
Under Ohio law, a conviction for rape of a child under the age of 13 carries a possible maximum sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole for 15 years.
The Franklin County Public Defender’s office, which had represented Fuentes at his initial hearing on July 13, did not have any comment on the indictment. The Franklin County Prosecutor’s office also declined to comment.
Fuentes will next be in court Monday for an arraignment on the indictment, where he is expected to enter a plea of not guilty through his attorney.