No bail for accused rapist of girl who traveled for abortion | Policy

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man accused of raping and impregnating a 9-year-old Ohio girl who traveled to Indiana for an abortion was held without bail Thursday by a judge who cited overwhelming evidence and the fact that he is apparently living illegally in the United States.

Gerson Fuentes, 27, faces two counts of rape over the girl, who turned 10 before having an abortion in a case that has become a flashpoint in the national access debate to the procedure since The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. He has pleaded not guilty.

If convicted, Fuentes, from Guatemala, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. That penalty and “the lack of legally demonstrable ties to that community make him a significant flight risk,” Franklin County Judge Julie 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 that Fuentes was the father, Franklin County District Attorney Dan Meyer and the Detective Jeffrey Huhn in court.

Huhn said he was unable, when searching multiple databases, to find any evidence that Fuentes was in the country legally.

In denying the connection, Lynch cited this evidence, the violence of the crime, and the fact that Fuentes lived in the same house with the girl and her mother.

“To allow him to return to this house, the traumatic and psychological impact would be unbecoming of an alleged victim,” Lynch said. She also cited the “physical, mental and emotional trauma” the girl suffered from enduring rape and abortion, and finding her case at the center of the abortion debate in the country.

The case won national attention according to an Indianapolis doctor, Dr. Caitlin Bernardsaid the child had to travel to Indiana due to Ohio’s abortion ban first detectable “fetal heartbeat” after the United States Supreme Court struck down the landmark Decision Roe v. Wade.

President Joe Biden cited the case when he signed an order on July 8 trying to protect abortion access. Some prominent conservatives and Republicans, including Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, cast doubt on history initially, then condemned the attack after Fuentes was arrested.

Fuentes’ attorney, Bryan Bowen, objected to a no-bond hearing and unsuccessfully asked Lynch to set a reasonable bond. He said there was no evidence that there was any physical abuse apart from the rapes or that the girl was put under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He also said Fuentes had family ties to Columbus, had a job, and there was no evidence of a criminal history. Fuentes lived in the area for about seven years.

“We heard evidence about the nature of the offence, but we heard no 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 decision.

Dan Meyer, an assistant Franklin County attorney, said Thursday that Fuentes was supporting the girl’s family, including her mother.

Columbus police learned of the girl’s pregnancy after her mother alerted Franklin County Children’s Services on June 22. Huhn said Fuentes confessed to raping the girl, who turned 10 on May 28, twice.

The girl saw a Columbus-area doctor in late June with a plan to have a local abortion, but that was not possible due to her gestational age, which was determined to be six weeks and four days, Huhn said. .

Ohio’s “heartbeat” abortion ban includes an exception only for a life-threatening emergency or involving a “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

Indiana Republican Senate leaders proposed a bill this month who would ban abortions from the moment 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 Ohio daughter’s abortion controversy in Indiana.

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