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National News

Man charged in rape of Ohio 10-year-old who police say later traveled across state lines for abortion

todayJuly 14, 2022

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — An Ohio man has been accused of raping and impregnating a 10-year-old girl who police said then sought an out-of-state abortion days after Roe v. Wade was overturned and more restrictive abortion laws went into effect in her home state.

A complaint filed in Franklin County Municipal Court on Tuesday alleges that the victim was raped in mid-May and that she identified her assailant to Columbus police earlier this month.

The suspect, 27-year-old Gerson Fuentes of Columbus, was arrested on Tuesday and allegedly confessed to the rape when detectives brought him to police headquarters for a saliva test, according to the complaint.

Fuentes was arraigned on Wednesday on a felony rape charge and was ordered held on $2 million bond. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.

A public defender representing Fuentes did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Det. Jeffrey Huhn testified during Wednesday’s arraignment that DNA evidence is currently being processed and that the suspect’s confession was made in Spanish through an interpreter.

Huhn said Columbus police became aware of the alleged rape through a referral by the Franklin County Children Services on June 22 after the girl’s mother reported the pregnancy. The 10-year-old victim traveled to Indianapolis in neighboring Indiana to undergo a medical abortion on June 30, he said.

A ban on abortion about six weeks into pregnancy went into effect in Ohio on June 24, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe.

The Ohio law, which was first signed into law in 2019, has no exceptions in the case of rape or incest.

The case, which was first reported by the Columbus Dispatch, bears striking resemblance to a report by the Indianapolis Star earlier this month of a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio who, at over 6 weeks pregnant, traveled to Indianapolis for an abortion after the so-called heartbeat law went into effect.

President Joe Biden referenced the IndyStar report during remarks made while signing an executive order on abortion access on Friday.

“Imagine being that little girl,” he said. “Just imagine being that little girl. Ten years old.”

“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?” he continued. “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.”

ABC News has not been able to confirm if the two incidents are the same.

The Franklin County Prosecutor’s office said it does not comment on pending cases. The Columbus Division of Police also declined comment to ABC Columbus affiliate WSYX.

The Franklin County Children Services told ABC News it is prohibited from sharing information on specific cases.

The White House declined to comment Wednesday following Fuentes’ arrest.

Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost had questioned the veracity of the IndyStar report, telling Fox News on Monday that he hadn’t heard “a whisper anywhere” about such a case.

Following Wednesday’s arraignment, Yost said that the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation “stands ready” to assist law enforcement.

“My heart aches for the pain suffered by this young child,” he 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.”

ABC News’ Ely Brown and Cheryl Gendron contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Written by: ABC News

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