By Zachary Stieber
The doctor who recently performed an abortion for a 10-year-old girl alerted Indiana’s attorney general on July 19 that she may sue him for defamation.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard’s attorneys sent a tort claim notice to Attorney General Todd Rokita, telling him that a lawsuit may soon follow.
“Mr. Rokita’s false and misleading statements about alleged misconduct by Dr. Bernard in her profession constitute defamation per se,” the notice states.
A spokesperson for Rokita did not respond to a request for comment.
“No false or misleading statements have been made,” a spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email on Monday.
Before documents confirming Bernard reported performing the abortion were released by a state health agency, Rokita appeared on Fox News and described Bernard as an “abortion activist acting as a doctor, with a history of failing to report.”
Indiana law requires doctors to report performing an abortion for any girls under the age of 16 within three days of the abortion.
The next day, Rokita issued a statement saying Bernard may have failed to report and violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a federal law that bars healthcare professionals from releasing information that can be used to identify patients.
Hours later, the Indiana Department of Health released documents to The Epoch Times and other news outlets showing Bernard reported the abortion on July 2, three days after performing it.
Bernard’s lawyers sent Rokita a cease-and-desist letter, but his office maintains he did not say anything false or misleading.
On Friday, Indiana University, Bernard’s employer, said a probe concluded the doctor did not violate any laws by speaking to the press. Her account was included in a story by a local paper about how the Supreme Court’s ruling was making it more difficult to obtain abortions.
The tort claim notice triggers a 90-day investigative period, according to Bernard’s lawyers. The state can settle the claim during that time. If a settlement is not reached, a lawsuit can be filed.
“This claim is the first step in the process to potentially filing a defamation suit against the AG,” Bernard’s lawyers said in a statement.
The notice notes that Bernard’s license is active and that she has no disciplinary history, despite Rokita’s statement.
“Thus, Mr. Rokita’s statements that Dr. Bernard was an ‘abortion activist acting as a doctor’ with a ‘history of failing to report’ were false. Mr. Rokita either knew the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the statements. Mr. Rokita recklessly and/or negligently failed to ascertain whether the statements about Dr. Bernard’s licensure were true or false before making them,” the notice says.
A pro-life group filed a complaint with Rokita’s predecessor in 2018 against Bernard, but the attorney general’s office has refused to release records on any investigation that was undertaken.
Man Arrested, Charged
While Bernard listed the age of the man who impregnated the young girl as 17, a 27-year-old man was arrested for allegedly raping the girl.
Gerson Fuentes, who local and federal officials say is an illegal immigrant, was charged with rape of a person under 13 years old.
Fuentes confessed to the crime and the girl identified him as the perpetrator, according to court documents.
Fuentes was granted $2 million bail but remains in prison because he has not posted bail, according to jail records.
The public defender’s office in Franklin County, Ohio, which is representing the man, has not returned inquiries.
Fuentes faces life in prison if convicted.