The man charged with raping a 10-year-old girl who traveled to Indiana for an abortion pleaded guilty to rape Wednesday and was immediately sentenced to life in prison.
Gerson Fuentes, 28, was charged with two felony counts of rape in an indictment filed in Franklin County, Ohio, last year in a case that made national headlines after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Fuentes, a Guatemalan national, confessed to raping the child in an interview with police, according to documents filed in Franklin County Municipal Court.
He was charged with the rape of a minor and was supposed to stand trial in January, but the case was delayed.
Fuentes was sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of parole after 25 years and will have to register as a Tier 3 sex offender.
Prosecutors said the victim’s mother did not object to the plea and agreed to the sentencing recommendation.
Franklin County Judge Julie Lynch said that the court considers Fuentes’ crime among the most serious offenses and that it was “hard pill” for the court to agree to the joint sentencing recommendation, apparently referring to the possibility of parole.
“If that family hadn’t begged me to take this joint recommendation, this would never be happening,” Lynch said.
The child tested positive on a pregnancy test and sought out an abortion, prosecutors confirmed in court Wednesday.
Fuentes was the live-in boyfriend of the child’s mother, and the girl was under age 10 at the time of the rape, prosecutors said.
The girl had to travel to a neighboring state to terminate the pregnancy, her physician, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, told The Indianapolis Star last summer. Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” law, which outlaws abortion, was enacted hours after the Supreme Court overturned abortion protections in a 6-3 ruling in June last year.
The Indiana Medical Licensing Board reprimanded and fined Bernard for speaking publicly about the girl’s case in violation of patient privacy laws.
But the board cleared her of more serious allegations she was accused of by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, among them that she failed to report child abuse and that she was unfit to practice medicine. Bernard sent a cease-and-desist letter last year asking Rokita to stop making “false or misleading statements” about her.
Bernard’s attorney, Alice Morical, said in a statement in May that Bernard was grateful to be exonerated of such allegations by the board.
“Dr. Bernard bravely stood up for access to compassionate medical care and she is a consummate professional who deserves to care for her patients without reproach,” Morical said.
Indiana University Health, where Bernard works as an OB-GYN, investigated the issue last year and determined that she had complied with patient privacy laws.
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