Doctor who provided abortion to 10-year-old girl moves to sue attorney general for defamation
INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) — An attorney representing Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who provided an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim, has filed a tort claim against Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita — the first step in a defamation lawsuit against Rokita.
“Mr. Rokita’s false and misleading statements about alleged misconduct by Dr. Bernard in her profession constitute defamation,” said Attorney Kathleen A. DeLaney, who represents Bernard.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a cease and desist issued by DeLaney, which was itself a response to Rokita’s continued public comments aimed at Bernard. Rokita went on Fox News on July 13, calling Bernard an “abortion activist acting as a doctor” and said she had a “history of failing to report” and even threatened to go after Bernard’s license.
The Fox News caption underneath Rokita proclaimed “Doc Failed to Report Abortion Abuse Victim,” according to the tort claim.
However, Nexstar’s WXIN obtained documents showing that Bernard did file the report, and even filed it within the timeframe required.
DeLaney also said that a “simple check” on a government license website would have confirmed that Dr. Bernard’s license was active with no disciplinary history.
In addition, Indiana University Health issued a statement saying they conducted an investigation into Dr. Bernard and found her in compliance with privacy laws.
But despite Rokita and his office being able to obtain this information, Rokita spoke publically in national and local media, continuing to vow an investigation into her license, and to see if she had filed the report.
“Rokita either knew the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard to the truth or falsity of the statements,” DeLaney said in the tort claim. “Mr. Rokita recklessly and/or negligently failed to ascertain whether the statements about Dr. Bernard’s licensure were true or false before making them.”
DeLaney said Rokita’s statements “exceed the general scope of Mr. Rokita’s authority as Indiana’s Attorney General.”
“Given the current political atmosphere in the United States, Mr. Rokita’s comments were intended to heighten public condemnation of Dr. Bernard, who legally provided legitimate medical care,” the tort claim said.
The filing triggers a 90-day investigative period for the state to settle the claim, after which a lawsuit can be filed.
WXIN has reached out to Rokita’s office for comment.