A man accused of raping and impregnating a 10-year-old Ohio girl was ordered Thursday to be held without bond by a judge who cited the horrendous violence of the crime and the fact that he had been living in the same home with the girl and her mother.
Fuentes, 27, is charged with two felony counts of rape of the child who traveled to Indiana for an abortion that became a flashpoint in the national debate over access to the procedure. He has pleaded not guilty.
Franklin County Judge Julie Lynch ruled on Thursday that Fuentes will be held without bond. He showed no emotion as he was led by deputies from the Columbus courtroom back to his jail cell.
‘To allow him to return to that home, the traumatic and psychological impact would be undeserving to an alleged victim,’ Lynch said. She also cited the ‘physical, and mental and emotional trauma’ the girl suffered from enduring the rapes and the abortion, and finding her case at the center of the country’s abortion debate.
Fuentes, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, was arraigned earlier this month and his bail was initially set at $2 million. He remains in the Franklin County Jail.
The case drew national attention when Dr. Caitlin Bernard said the child had to go to Indiana because Ohio banned abortions at the first detectable ‘fetal heartbeat’ after the United States Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in June.
Gerson Fuentes, 27, is charged with two felony counts of rape of a 10-year-old girl who traveled to Indiana for an abortion. A judge ruled on Thursday that he will be held without bond
Gerson Fuentes, center, appears between his lawyer Bryan Bowen, left, and his interpreter in Franklin County court for his bond hearing in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday
If convicted, Fuentes, who is from Guatemala, faces the possibility of life in prison with no chance of parole. That penalty and ‘not having any ties to this community that can be proved legally makes it a substantial flight risk,’ Lynch said after a 35-minute hearing.
The girl confirmed that Fuentes attacked her, Fuentes confessed to Columbus police detectives, and DNA testing of the aborted fetus confirmed Fuentes was the father, Franklin County Prosecutor Dan Meyer and Detective Jeffrey Huhn said in court Thursday.
Huhn said he was unable, when searching multiple databases, to find any evidence that Fuentes was in the country legally.
In denying bond, Lynch cited that evidence, the violence of the crime and the fact that Fuentes had been living in the same home with the girl and her mother.
Franklin County common pleas judge Julie Lynch speaks during a bond hearing for Gerson Fuentes, the man accused of raping a 10-year-old girl who then traveled to Indiana to have an abortion. She ordered Fuentes to be held without bond
Columbus, Ohio, police detective Jeffery Huhn testifies during a bond hearing for Gerson Fuentes, stating that DNA testing of the aborted fetus confirmed Fuentes was the father
Fuentes’ attorney, Bryan Bowen, argued against a no-bond hearing and unsuccessfully asked Lynch to set a reasonable bond. He said there was no evidence of physical abuse outside of the rapes or that the girl had been put under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
He also said that Fuentes had family ties in Columbus, that he had a job, and that there was no evidence of a criminal history. Fuentes has lived in the area about seven years.
‘We’ve heard evidence about the nature of the offense, but we have not heard any evidence presented about any danger that Mr. Fuentes would pose to any particular person or to the community,’ he said. He declined to comment after Lynch’s ruling.
Columbus police learned about the girl´s pregnancy after her mother alerted Franklin County Children Services on June 22. Huhn said Fuentes confessed to raping the girl, who turned 10 on May 28, on two separate occasions.
Ohio’s ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban includes an exception only for an emergency that is life-threatening or involving a ‘serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.’
Indiana´s Republican Senate leaders proposed a bill this month that would prohibit abortions from the time an egg is implanted in a uterus, with exceptions in cases of rape and incest and to protect the life of the mother. The proposal followed the controversy over the Ohio girl’s abortion in Indiana.
Bryan Bowen, left, the attorney for Gerson Fuentes, cross examines Columbus, Ohio, police detective Jeffery Huhn in court Thursday, arguing that there was no evidence of physical abuse outside of the rapes or that the girl had been put under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Judge Julie Lynch denied bond for Gerson Fuentes, left, the man accused of raping a 10-year-old girl who then traveled to Indiana to have an abortion
The girl underwent a medical abortion in Indianapolis on June 30.
Columbus police Detective Jeffrey Huhn, who testified at Fuentes’ arraignment last week, claims the girl named the Guatemalan resident as her attacker and the father of her child.
He also testified that DNA evidence collected from the clinic in Indianapolis will be tested against samples taken from Fuentes, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Officials are also testing DNA collected from the child’s siblings in an attempt to confirm who fathered the fetus.
The case has been under scrutiny by Ohio officials, specifically Attorney General Dave Yost, since it first made national headlines earlier this month.
The Indianapolis Star, an Indiana-based publication, reported on July 1 that a little girl had to cross state lines to receive an abortion because she was denied one in Ohio.
Ohio is one of the many states set to impose laws, which would cap abortions at six weeks. Also in the state of Ohio, doctors are mandated to report abuse of minors
Yost, during a Fox News interview Monday, claimed there’s no ‘biological evidence’ to the story and he hasn’t heard a ‘whisper anywhere’ about the little girl.
Additionally, an Indiana Department of Health filing obtained by Fox on Thursday, revealed that Indianapolis physician Dr. Caitlin Bernard reported the girl’s alleged rapist was approximately 17 years old.
The child was six weeks and three days pregnant when she sought an abortion in Indiana, Bernard had told The Indianapolis Star.
She claimed the girl was ineligible by just three days to receive an abortion in her home state because of a newly imposed state ban on abortions at the first detectable ‘fetal heartbeat.’
Ohio AG Dave Yost Yost had claimed in an interview Monday there’s no ‘biological evidence’ to the story, and that he hasn’t heard a ‘whisper anywhere’ about the little girl
The ban was enacted shortly after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which had guaranteed abortion rights in America. The Ohio heartbeat bill has no exceptions for rape or incest.
According to court records, a report was generated on June 22 with the Columbus Division of Police for the girl’s rape. Roe was overturned two days later on June 24.
On July 6, the victim identified Fuentes to authorities as the person who raped her.
A week later, Fuentes was served a search warrant for a saliva sample and was taken into custody where he confessed to raping the victim multiple times.
Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Cynthia Ebner said the case didn’t warrant Fuentes – who is believed to be undocumented – to be held without bond, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
But Ebner said a higher bond was necessary due to Fuentes being a possible flight risk and for the safety of children involved.
Yost, skeptical of the case, told Fox last week: ‘My office runs the state crime lab. Any case like this, you’re going to have a rape kit, you’re going to have biological evidence, and you’d be looking for DNA analysis.
‘There is no case request for analysis that looks anything like this,’ he added.
The AG also noted that ‘Ohio’s heartbeat law has a medical exception, which is broader than just the life of the mother.’
‘This young girl, if she exists and if this horrible thing actually happened to her – it breaks my heart to think about it – she did not have to leave Ohio to find treatment,’ he explained.
Following the news of Fuentes’ arrest, the AG’s office released a statement, reading in part: ‘My heart aches for the pain suffered by this young child.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (left) says an investigation has been launched into Dr. Caitlin Bernard (right). She performed an abortion on the unidentified 10-year-old rape victim whose story made headlines when she was forced to travel from her home state to Indiana
‘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.’
Meanwhile, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has vowed to probe Dr. Bernard over the abortion, claiming he questioned whether she had complied the Hoosier State’s law requiring that all abortions be reported to authorities.
Dr. Bernard has not yet responded to the AG’s remarks, but tweeted:
‘My heart breaks for all survivors of sexual assault and abuse. I am so sad that our country is failing them when they need us most. Doctors must be able to give people the medical care they need, when and where they need it.’
She said these weeks have not been easy, but thanked the media for reporting the case.