August 11, 2022

Ohio’s attorney general said Monday that his office had heard “not a whisper” about the reported case of a 10-year-old girl who was raped and had to travel out of state to receive an abortion due to Ohio’s so-called “trigger” law — a viral story that was cited by President Biden last week.

“We have a decentralized law enforcement system in Ohio, but we have regular contact with prosecutors and local police and sheriffs,” Dave Yost told Fox News’ “Jesse Watters Primetime.” “Not a whisper anywhere.” 

Yost then noted that his office runs the Buckeye State’s crime lab, and added: “Any case like this, you’re going to have a rape kit, you’re going to have biological evidence, and you would be looking for DNA analysis, which we do most of the DNA analysis in Ohio. There is no case request for analysis that looks anything like this.”

“I know our prosecutors and cops in this state,” Yost went on. “There’s not one of them that wouldn’t be turning over every rock in their jurisdiction if they had the slightest hint that this occurred there.”

Dave Yost claims Ohio law enforcement has no knowledge of a rape case involving a 10-year-old girl.
Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On July 1, the Indianapolis Star reported that a local OB-GYN, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, had been contacted four days earlier by an Ohio “child abuse doctor” who told Bernard that they had just seen a 10-year-old patient who was six weeks and three days pregnant.

According to the story, that meant the girl was three days too late to obtain an abortion under Ohio’s new law, which went into effect following the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

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The Star reported that Bernard took responsibility for the girl’s care, but did not specify whether the child underwent an abortion or any other procedure. The outlet also did not identify the doctor who told Bernard about the case and Bernard appeared to be the only source for the story.

Dave Yost on Fox News.
“Any case like this, you’re going to have a rape kit, you’re going to have biological evidence,” Dave Yost told Fox News.
Fox News

Under Ohio law, physicians are required to report any case of known or suspected child abuse or neglect, including “suffering any physical or mental wound [or] injury.” 

If, as Yost claims, law enforcement has no knowledge of a rape case involving a 10-year-old girl, that suggests that either the Ohio doctor violated state law by not reporting the crime or Bernard fabricated the incident to a credulous reporter.

“We don’t know who the originating doctor in Ohio was, if they even exist,” Yost told Watters on Monday night. “But the bottom line is, it is a crime — if you’re a mandated reporter — to fail to report.”

Abortion-rights activist rally at the Indiana Statehouse.
The report states that the 10-year-old patient was six weeks and three days pregnant, three days too late to obtain an abortion under Ohio’s new law.
AJ Mast/AP
Protesters rally at the Ohio Statehouse.
Ohio’s new law went into effect following the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
Barbara J. Perenic /The Columbus Dispatch via AP

Several news outlets and fact-checking websites, including the Washington Post and Snopes, have been unable to independently verify the Star report. The Post also reached out to Bernard last week, but did not hear back.

As social media users and conservative websites began to raise questions about the story Friday, Biden cited the report in a White House speech in which he raged against trigger laws like Ohio’s.

“Imagine being that little girl,” the president said. “I’m serious, just imagine being that little girl. Ten years old!”

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Joe Biden.
President Biden cited the report about the little girl as he raged against trigger laws.
Yuri Gripas/Pool via CNP/SplashNews.com

When pressed later Friday about whether the White House had verified key details of the case — including the identity of the victim — press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre referred reporters to the Department of Justice.

“I don’t have more to share on the identity of this young woman or the question that you just asked me,” Jean-Pierre said. “The president spoke to that young woman just to show how extreme the decision on — the Dobbs decision was and just how extreme it is now for American public, the — American families when there is no exception at all.”

It’s unclear why the press secretary invoked the Department of Justice, since the rape would be a matter for local law enforcement unless the girl was brought across state lines by her assailant.

On Monday, Yost claimed that the Ohio trigger law had an exception that would have allowed the girl — “if she exists and if this horrible thing actually happened to her” — to obtain an abortion in the state, undercutting the theme of the Star article.