The Indiana doctor who performed an abortion for a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim took the first steps Tuesday toward suing her state’s attorney general, Todd Rokita, for suggesting she may have committed a crime.
Lawyers for ob-gyn Dr. Caitlin Bernard sent a registered tort claim notice to Rokita’s office giving 90 days to “investigate or settle” her claim or to expect a lawsuit for defamation.
In it, Bernard said she would “seek damages for security costs, legal fees, reputational harm and emotional distress” sparked by interviews the AG gave after Bernard first highlighted the 10-year-old girl’s tragic plight.
It quoted Rokita as telling Fox News that Bernard was “this abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report.”
“We’re gathering the evidence as we speak, and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure. If she failed to report it in Indiana, it’s a crime for — to not report, to intentionally not report,” he said, as repeated in the legal document.
Bernard’s lawyers noted dismissively that “a simple check” online would have confirmed that she was still a licensed doctor “with no disciplinary history,” accusing the AG of a “reckless disregard of the truth.”
Further, the lawyers argued, it was easily proven that Bernard had reported the termination under state requirements — even though Rokita was still questioning whether she had done so in a statement on his office website.
The legal document said that “the dollar amount of the loss is not ascertainable at this time, as the harm is ongoing.”
The tort claim was filed four days after Bernard’s legal team sent a cease-and-desist letter to Rokita also threatening a lawsuit.
It accused the AG of “inflammatory accusations” that “have the potential to incite harassment or violence.”
“Rokita is wrongly accusing her of misconduct in her profession, so we want that smear campaign to stop,” Bernard’s attorney, Kathleen DeLaney, told NPR on Tuesday.
“We want him and his office to stop intimidating and harassing health care providers generally who are simply doing the job that they went to medical school to do.”
The shocking case came to light when the girl was taken across state lines to terminate the pregnancy in Indiana on June 30, with President Biden highlighting it as proof of the evils of anti-abortion legislation.
Illegal immigrant Gerson Fuentes, 27, was later busted and confessed to police to having sex at least twice with the girl, who would have been just 9 when she was impregnated.
He is being held on $2 million bond after being charged with felony rape of a minor under 13 years old in the case and is due back in court Friday.