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Man charged with rape of girl, 10, who traveled for abortion

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Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost speaks in Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 20, 2020.

Julie Carr Smyth | AP

A person was arraigned Wednesday in Ohio on charges of raping a 10-year-old girl whose case drew national attention following a health care provider’s comments that the kid needed to travel to Indiana for an abortion because of recent restrictions in her home state after the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling.

The suspect’s arraignment got here days after some conservatives, including Ohio’s Republican governor and attorney general, had raised questions on whether the case was real. Democratic President Joe Biden had highlighted the case last week on the signing of an executive order geared toward protecting access to abortion.

A detective testified Wednesday that Columbus police learned in regards to the girl’s pregnancy through a referral by Franklin County Children Services that was made by her mother on June 22, and that she had an abortion in Indianapolis on June 30, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

An Indianapolis physician who provides abortion services, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, had told The Indianapolis Star that an abortion had been provided for such a baby since the girl couldn’t get the abortion in Ohio under a newly imposed state ban on abortions at the primary detectable “fetal heartbeat.” A judge lifted a stay on the ban after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

Appearing Monday on Fox News, Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost had said he hadn’t heard “a whisper” from law enforcement in Ohio about any reports or arrests made in reference to such a case. Yost suggested later within the interview that the young rape victim would have met the Ohio “heartbeat” abortion ban’s exception for medical emergencies.

“This young girl, if she exists and if this horrible thing happened to her — it breaks my heart to give it some thought — she didn’t have to go away Ohio to seek out treatment,” he said.

It’s unclear, nonetheless, that the girl’s condition met the law’s definition of an emergency, which have to be life-threatening or involve a “serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a serious bodily function.”

In a press release Wednesday, Yost said the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation stands able to help prosecute the case. He didn’t address his previous suggestions that the case was fabricated.

Gov. Mike DeWine, who like Yost faced criticism for questioning the case’s veracity, had no latest comments to supply Wednesday, spokesperson Dan Tierney said in an email.

“As we previously stated, Governor DeWine views this crime as a horrific tragedy, and he has said that if the evidence supports, the rapist should spend the remainder of his life in prison,” he said.

Police say the 27-year-old suspect confessed to raping the girl. He was arrested Tuesday and has not entered a plea.

A message looking for comment was left for the general public defender who represented him Wednesday.

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