Indianapolis doctor drops lawsuit against Rokita, citing judge’s ruling that AG broke the law

By: - December 8, 2022 2:47 pm

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who was at the center of controversy last summer over a 10-year rape victim from Ohio. (Photos from Attorney General’s Office and IU Health.)

Lawyers for an Indianapolis doctor on Thursday said they would voluntarily withdraw a lawsuit against Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita because the case has now shifted to an administrative licensing action. 

Marion County Superior Court Judge Heather Welch ruled last week that he caused “irreparable harm” to the OB-GYN’s reputation and professional standing. But ultimately she chose not to block an investigation into Dr. Caitlin Bernard — who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old girl from Ohio in June. The doctor has maintained that she is being targeted by Rokita and his office.

“With today’s voluntary dismissal, we preserve our victory in court proving that the Attorney General violated Indiana law by publicly discussing the details of an investigation into Dr. Bernard which he was statutorily required to keep confidential at that stage,” said Attorney Kathleen Delaney in a statement Thursday. “While the motion for emergency relief was pending, AG Rokita dropped his investigation of Dr. Caldwell altogether. We are now shifting all our attention to the complaint Mr. Rokita has filed against Dr. Bernard with the Medical Licensing Board.”

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BERNARD - Notice of Plaintiffs' Voluntary Dismissal of Complaint

Although Welch denied an injunction, she did find that Rokita violated state confidentiality laws multiple times when he publicly discussed his office’s ongoing investigation into Bernard.

DeLaney, one of Bernard’s lawyers, also pointed to jurisdictional issues that would likely keep the case from moving forward. 

That’s because the Republican attorney general sent a complaint against Bernard to the Indiana Medical Licensing Board just days before Welch’s ruling. Rokita said Bernard “failed to immediately report the abuse and rape of a child to Indiana authorities” after performing the abortion on the girl from Ohio.

Welch said in her ruling Friday that because Rokita filed the licensure action with the Medical Licensing Board, the court “no longer has jurisdiction to make any factual findings … even for the purposes of a preliminary order.”

Delaney said “We look forward to defending Dr. Bernard and her medical license against Rokita’s baseless attacks. Rokita’s actions set a dangerous precedent imperiling the provision of lawful patient care and jeopardizing the confidentiality of patient medical records. And Rokita continues to take these actions at taxpayer expense.”

It’s not yet clear when the Indiana Medical Licensing Board will take up the complaint against Bernard. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for late January.

Bernard and her medical partner Dr. Amy Caldwell filed the request for an emergency court order last month in an attempt to block Rokita’s office from accessing patient’s medical records. Lawyers for the doctors said they were also trying to prevent future “unchecked oversteps” by the attorney general.

Their court filing was a follow-up to an earlier complaint filed to initiate a lawsuit against Rokita.


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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.