Tort claim filed against Rokita

By: - July 19, 2022 2:56 pm

INDIANAPOLIS – An attorney representing the doctor who oversaw the abortion procedure of a 10-year-old rape victim filed a tort claim notice Tuesday against Attorney General Todd Rokita — the first step in the process of filing a defamation lawsuit.

“Mr. Rokita’s false and misleading statements about alleged misconduct by Dr. (Caitlin) Bernard in her profession constitute defamation,” the claim states. “The statements have been and continue to be published by or on behalf of Mr. Rokita and the Office of the Attorney General.”

According to the terminated pregnancy report, Bernard oversaw a medication abortion of a 10-year-old on June 30. The child came to Indiana from Ohio because her pregnancy was just beyond Ohio’s six-week abortion ban. Bernard also filed a secondary document indicating the reason for the abortion was abuse.

“Attorney General Rokita and the Office of Attorney General are leaders in the pro-life movement. His historic work has further distinguished Indiana as a protector of unborn life and women,” said Kelly Stevenson, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office.

“This is part of a divisive narrative and an attempt to distract from the important work of the office, including the duty to determine whether practitioners have violated the standards of practice in his or her profession, as well as federal and state laws. We will defend against baseless claims.”

On July 13, Rokita appeared on Fox News and announced he would be investigating Bernard for a failure to report the abortion of a minor. State documents showed that was false the next day.

“We have this abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report. So we’re gathering information,” Rokita told host Jesse Watters. “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.”

Caitlin Bernard (From IU Health)

On Friday, attorney Kathleen DeLaney, representing Bernard, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Rokita, advising him to stop making false and misleading statements about the doctor. 

The tort claim omits Bernard’s address, saying the doctor had received threats to herself and her family. 

“The dollar amount of the loss is not ascertainable at this time, as the harm is ongoing,” the claim states. “(Bernard) intends to seek damages for security costs, legal fees, reputational harm and emotional distress.”

Indiana Right to Life in 2018 accused eight abortion doctors of not filing the appropriate documents for girls receiving abortions – including Bernard. But no disciplinary complaint was ever filed against Bernard. Her license is in good standing.

Filing the tort claim triggers a 90-day investigative period for the state to settle the claim, after which a defamation lawsuit can be filed. 

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Whitney Downard
Whitney Downard

A native of upstate New York, Whitney previously covered statehouse politics for CNHI’s nine Indiana papers, focusing on long-term healthcare facilities and local government. Prior to her foray into Indiana politics, she worked as a general assignment reporter for The Meridian Star in Meridian, Mississippi. Whitney is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University (#GoBonnies!), a community theater enthusiast and cat mom.