A 27-year-old man has been charged in the sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl who reportedly traveled from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion in a case that drew international attention — and scrutiny — in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Gerson Fuentes, who was arrested Tuesday, confessed to raping the child, according to documents filed in Franklin County, Ohio, Municipal Court.
He was charged with the rape of a minor and faces a life sentence and deportation, the documents state. Bond was set at $2 million, and an initial hearing is scheduled for next week.
An attorney who represented Fuentes at Wednesday’s hearing did not immediately reply to a request for comment Wednesday evening.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that the charge is connected to the case highlighted by President Joe Biden and held up as an example by abortion rights advocates of the dangers of the end of a constitutional right to abortion.
“She was forced to have to travel out of the state to Indiana to seek to terminate the pregnancy and maybe save her life,” Biden said last week. “Ten years old — 10 years old — raped, six weeks pregnant, already traumatized, was forced to travel to another state.”
The girl's situation began drawing attention after The Indianapolis Star reported that an Indianapolis physician who provides abortion services, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, said she had treated a 10-year-old rape victim. She said the girl had to travel from Ohio to Indiana after Ohio's "fetal heartbeat" law was enacted hours after the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe last month.
In Ohio, abortions are now outlawed at around six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest.
A number of media outlets and personalities have cast doubt on the reported details of the girl’s case.
Snopes.com said it was unable to get corroborating information about the story.
“After the story went viral, various media personalities and social media commenters questioned whether the story was real,” Snopes.com noted on its website. It later updated its page to include details about Fuentes’ arrest.
Indiana legislators are preparing for a special session about an abortion ban this month.
“It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks we will have no ability to provide that care,” Bernard, the doctor, told The Star this month.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said that his heart aches for the girl and that “justice must be served.”
"I am grateful for the diligent work of the Columbus Police Department in securing a confession and getting a rapist off the street," Yost said.
He had previously been among those casting doubt on the girl's story, telling the USA Today Network Ohio bureau Tuesday that the more time passed with no confirmation of the story, the more likely "that this is a fabrication."
“I know the cops and prosecutors in this state,” Yost had said. “There’s not one of them that wouldn’t be turning over every rock, looking for this guy, and they would have charged him. They wouldn’t leave him loose on the streets. ... I’m not saying it could not have happened. What I’m saying to you is there is not a damn scintilla of evidence.”
CORRECTION (July 22, 2022, 8:40 a.m. ET) : A previous version of this article misspelled the first name of the accused. He is Gerson Fuentes, not Gershon Fuentes.