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USA Today Goes for Shameless Self-Congratulations on Reporting of 10-Year-Old Rape Victim

AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File

On Wednesday, news came out that 27-year-old Gerson Fuentes, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, was arrested and had confessed to raping a 10-year-old Ohio girl who traveled to Indiana to get an abortion. The story has been bizarre from the start, with red flags galore. Questions remain even with the arrest, perhaps the biggest being as to why the victim's mother appears to be protecting Fuentes. What's not questionable is how the media and pro-abortion Democrats have been shameless as they call out Republicans expressing doubt about certain details of the story and mislead about the Ohio law at the center of this.

News that the 10-year-old had become pregnant through rape, which may have occurred hen she was nine, first came from The Indianapolis Star, and then spread like wild fire. There was a brief mention of Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an abortionist in Indiana, about "Patients head to Indiana for abortion services as other states restrict care." Bernard nor the outlet were not very transparent about providing further details, to put it mildly. Not even the Ohio Attorney General had heard about it initially. 

Reporting from July 1 at the Indianapolis Star claimed that "the Buckeye state had outlawed any abortion after six weeks," which is factually incorrect. The state has banned most abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which is at about six weeks. There are exceptions for health of the mother or "a medical emergency or medical necessity," which Yost said applies to the 10-year-old girl. 

The Columbus Dispatch, which had that story above published as "As Ohio restricts abortions, 10-year-old girl travels to Indiana for procedure," broke the news of Fuentes' arrest. Both are sister sites under the USA Today Network. 

The outlet sought further validation in throwing Ohio Attorney General David Yost under the bus, as he had expressed doubt at the story before the arrest was made. 

That wasn't enough, though. On Friday, the USA Today Twitter account posted an incredibly self-congratulatory Twitter thread:

It wasn't just the tweet though. There's a whole piece from USA Today editor-in-chief and President of Gannett News Division Nicole Carroll, "Police accounts kept changing on Uvalde. A girl's rape story was called a lie. We reported truth."

Early on she wrote:

The truth is hard to absorb: A 10-year-old girl is pregnant after being raped. Because she lives in Ohio, where abortions are heavily restricted, she travels to an Indiana doctor to have an abortion.

Our job is to report the truth.

Three of our local newsrooms, all part of the USA TODAY Network, took on the hard truth this week.

While Carroll's piece is a bit more truthful than initial reporting, she does fail to mention that Yost said the 10-year-old could have sought and received treatment in Ohio:

On July 1, the Indianapolis Star reported that Dr. Caitlin Bernard said she cared for a 10-year-old girl seeking an abortion, sent to her from another doctor in Ohio. The girl was six weeks and three days pregnant, according to Bernard.

Ohio law outlaws abortion after “cardiac activity” is detected, usually around six weeks. There are exceptions if the mother's life is at risk. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. You could reasonably argue pregnancy is a health risk to a 10-year-old; nevertheless, she was sent across state lines to Indiana.

Bizarrely, Carroll wrote that "[c]hildren can start menstruation as young as 8," leaving out a key, biological fact that only girls can menstruate. 

Not only is the outlet issuing a statement and publishing an opinion piece to pat themselves on the back for coverage that raised more questions than provided answers, they misrepresent what it was their detractors took issue with. 

When it comes to the lack of complete answers as well as falsehoods and misstated facts, Democrats and other pro-abortion advocates have thus gone with a narrative that the 10-year-old was forced to leave Ohio and seek treatment elsewhere because of her state's abortion ban.

During Thursday's pro-abortion hearing in the House Judiciary Committee--just one of many--Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said in his line of questioning that the young girl was "forced" to leave. A Democratic witness he questioned, Sarah Warbelow of Human Rights Council, under oath, misstated the Ohio abortion ban, ironically after being asked by Swalwell to clear up "disinformation."

Warbelow stated "beyond that, I think it's also important to note that there is no exception for the life or the health of the mother in the Ohio law, that's what that 10-year-old had to cross state lines in order to receive an abortion."

There's also more to Dr. Bernard than what the news company is telling their readers, though. 

As Matt covered on Friday, Dr. Bernard misreported Fuentes as being 17-years-old in her official filing to the Indiana Department of Health. Fox News Digital got the official filing on Thursday. 

The Indianapolis Star continues to look to protect Dr. Bernard with positive coverage, though, not just with an opinion piece that reads "Dr. Caitlin Bernard right to protect 10-year-old rape victim," but also reporting that she did not violate HIPAA, though other reports indicated she is being disciplined for such a violation. More will hopefully be released through FOIA requests. 

Reporting from The Indianapolis Star did acknowledge, in what is one of the very last paragraphs, that Dr. Bernard misreported the accused rapist's age as 17:

"The form indicates the doctor did not know the age of the "father." In such cases, doctors are required to enter an "approximate age," according to a person familiar with the electronic filing system. Bernard entered "17."

Even if Dr. Bernard truly did not know Fuentes' age, it's curious that she entered an age where he would also be a minor. 

Dr. Bernard's attorney, Kathleen Delaney, is adamant her client followed the law and says the abortionist is considering legal action:

"She followed all relevant policies, procedures, and regulations in this case, just as she does every day to provide the best possible care for her patients," Delaney said. "She has not violated any law, including patient privacy laws, and she has not been disciplined by her employer. We are considering legal action against those who have smeared my client, including Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, and know that the facts will all come out in due time.”

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, as Madeline covered, is seeking to investigate Dr. Bernard to ensure she followed the law in her reporting. Dr. Bernard has been accused of failing to report abortions of minors in the past.

Further, "due time" for the facts to come out ought to have been much earlier. Time will tell if those investigations or lawsuits go anymore. 

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