Attorney General Rokita reprimanded for comments about Dr. Bernard

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The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded Attorney General Todd Rokita for comments he made about Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the OB-GYN at the center of a controversy over abortion in Indiana.

The Supreme Court handed down its order Thursday and approved a conditional agreement between Rokita and the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, which filed its complaint Sept. 18.

Justices Mark Massa, Geoffrey Slaughter and Derek Molter concurred in the ruling.

Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justice Christopher Goff dissented, saying they would reject the conditional agreement, believing the discipline to be “too lenient based on the Respondent’s position as Attorney General and the scope and breadth of the admitted misconduct.”

The conditional agreement is not publicly accessible, a Supreme Court spokesperson said, citing Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 23(22)(a)(5).

The six-page order in In the Matter of Theodore E. Rokita, 23S-DI-258, says Rokita’s comments about his investigation into Bernard—who talked to The Indianapolis Star about an abortion she performed on a 10-year-old rape victim—had a “substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding” and didn’t fall within any of Professional Conduct Rule 3.6’s “safe harbors.”

Dr. Caitlin Bernard

Specifically at issue was Rokita’s statement on the Fox News program Jesse Watters Primetime that Bernard is an “abortion activist acting as a doctor—with a history of failing to report.”

Rokita was also found to have violated Professional Conduct Rule 4.4(a) “because the statement had no substantial purpose, in connection with Respondent’s legal representation of the State, other than to embarrass or burden the physician.”

The disciplinary commission had also alleged Rokita violated Rule 8.4(d) by making his comments before an administrative action was filed against Bernard.

Rokita admitted to the two rule violations and acknowledged he couldn’t successfully defend himself on the charges if the matter were tried, according to the order.

“Respondent’s acceptance of responsibility is a mitigating factor, as are his cooperation with the disciplinary process and his lack of prior discipline over a lengthy career,” the order says. “But that same length of experience also ‘counsels that he should have known better’ than to conduct himself in the manner he did,” the order says, citing Matter of Hill, 144 N.E.3d 184, 196 (Ind. 2020).

Rokita sought dismissal of the complaint shortly after it was filed, arguing the action violated separation of powers and free speech rights.

Rokita issued a lengthy written statement Thursday that said he chose not to continue the fight over the validity of his statement about Bernard so he could “save a lot of taxpayer money and distraction.”

“”First things first: I deny and was not found to have violated anyone’s confidentiality or any laws,” he said. “I was not fined. And I will continue as Indiana’s duly-elected attorney general.”

Rokita once again said he was correct when he called Bernard an abortion activist.

“As I said at the time, my words are factual,” he wrote. “The IU Health physician who caused the international media spectacle at the expense of her patient’s privacy is by her own actions an outspoken abortion activist.”

Rokita criticized “liberal activists” and “the cancel culture establishment” in his statement.

“These liberal activists would like to cancel your vote because they hate the fact I stand up for liberty,” he said.

“Now, I will focus even more resources on successfully defending Indiana’s laws, including our pro-life laws, and fighting the mob that silences parents, employees, conservative students, law enforcement, Believers of all faiths, American patriots and free enterprise itself.”

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18 thoughts on “Attorney General Rokita reprimanded for comments about Dr. Bernard

  1. Every single Republican justice thought Rokita was out of line and two were pushing for a more severe punishment.

    Just think, we were perhaps one justice away from Rokita being disbarred …

    1. Rokita is bound to find himself in trouble with the Supreme Court again, in which case punishments will probably escalate.

  2. Ah, Rokita and Bernard…two peas in a pod.

    What Rokita said was indisputably out of step and likely contributed to a prejudicing of adjudicators during a proceeding for Dr. Bernard, for which she ended up receiving a fine an censure. Rokita deserves a reprimand for what he did because it was not appropriate for him to editorialize.

    Albeit inappropriate in the context, what he said was also true. Bernard is an abortion activist, certainly as much as Rokita is an anti-abortion activist.

    After all, Bernard did indeed fail to report in the appropriate matter this one occasion, for which her fine and censure were 100% justified. She should not lose her license. But she absolutely prioritized getting a child an abortion, making a public hubbub about the need to shuttle the child from Ohio to Indiana, editorializing on what she perceived was a graver injustice–not getting the child an abortion–rather than the conditions that caused a 10-year-old to get pregnant in the first place. Instead of reporting the crime that the child was raped by an illegal immigrant man with the cognizance of the child’s own mother, the child returned to the household with the rape-enabler (and possibly the rapist) for at least a time. This was a crime before it was a cause for abortion rights–even if the abortion was 100% justified–but Bernard misplaced her priorities. Just like Rokita.

    It would be better that Indiana could divest itself of both of these people, who clearly allow their personal beliefs to cloud their ethical judgment. Dr. Bernard has since fled to Illinois. Oh well–one out of two ain’t bad.

    1. Shame for Indiana – the shameful state it is – that Dr. Bernard left. So, many think that making abortion illegal is great — so be it. But it will not stop abortion, even if a national ban were implemented. But, many will suffer. Those of affluence will simply abscond to another locale for an abortion and return to Indiana as if it were a place of peaces. And which republicans have had abortions, paid for abortions, assisted in abortions, and lied about any aspect thereof. The shame is undeniable: the hypocrisy palpable. An AG of questionable conduct using state office for self-serving issues and personal vendettas deserved to be booted.

    2. Get the facts right, Lauren. Don’t jerk people around like this is a showing of Beetlejuice.

      “The state Medical Licensing Board voted that Dr. Caitlin Bernard didn’t abide by privacy laws when she told a newspaper reporter about the girl’s treatment in a case that became a flashpoint in the national abortion debate days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.

      The board, however, rejected accusations from Indiana’s Republican attorney general that Bernard violated state law by not reporting the child abuse to Indiana authorities. Board members chose to fine Bernard $3,000 for the violations, turning down a request from the attorney general’s office to suspend Bernard’s license. The board issued no restrictions on her practice of medicine.”

    3. I wish we had more Dr. Caitlin Bernards here in Indiana. Perhaps you should move to Texas or Florida to feel more satisfied and accepted idolizing idiots and bigots.

    4. Joe, sweetheart, you didn’t refute me.

      I know it’s hard when you derive your info from aggressively partisan sources, and you generally agree with them, so you never bother to check yourself from your unblinking view that your party is right and righteous 100% of the time.

      I didn’t say she broke a law. I specifically said “she should not lose her license” (4th para), and the censure/fine was good enough punishment for her misprioritization.

      Todd Rokita’s statement that Dr. Bernard is “an abortion activist” is manifest in her behavior. It wasn’t illegal; it was unethical. just like Rokita’s behavior, as an anti-abortion activist, was also unethical. He clearly has an axe to grind w/ Bernard.

      Dr. Bernard withdrew her civil suit, left her practice in Indiana, and clearly wants to put the whole thing behind her–entirely her right–which Todd Rokita was unwilling to do until he got his own wrist slapped.

      I remain more moderate than you, despite being a right-wing nut job. Funny world we live in, eh.

      In the end, those who think Caitlin Bernard was noble in her behavior are just letting their pro-abortion sentiments cloud their judgment. I remain steadfastly pro-choice and would prefer Indiana to keep abortion legal through the first trimester. But I can separate myself from my own chauvinism enough to see that Caitlin Bernard prioritized abortion over prosecuting the rapist. If a doctor had done that to a child I knew, I’d be almost as outraged at the doctor as the rapist–even though I’d want the child to get an abortion.

      Don’t worry, folks! There are literally hundreds (possibly thousands) of other pro-choice activist-minded doctors remaining in Indiana.

    5. It’s absolutely adorable you think you’re a moderate. Maybe in relation to Bannon or Miller.

      You: ”Bernard did indeed fail to report in the appropriate matter this one occasion”

      The AP: “The board, however, rejected accusations from Indiana’s Republican attorney general that Bernard violated state law by not reporting the child abuse to Indiana authorities. “

      She got popped for the privacy violation, not failure to report. As usual, you’re playing fast and loose with the facts, just like Todd. Maybe the ends justifies the means. You’re the same as the Portland Antifa or Hamas when you adopt their tactics.

      Fact remains that Rokita was one justice away from even more severe punishment. He got lucky, his words to the contrary.

    6. Joe: Since you’re a garden variety ideologue, being called “moderate compared to Bannon” from the likes of you is fine by me. After, Bannon isn’t really right-wing either. Only among the smooth-brained who think populism is far-right because the dying legacy media tells them this–and they can discern when they’re being propagandized. Bannon is a more committed class-based Marxist than anyone in the Dem “Squad”.

      Support your dear, dear party at all costs. I’ve already indicated routinely that Rokita deserved to be reprimanded and that Bernard does not deserve to lose her license. You slavishly defend Bernard at every turn.

      Again, you’re trying to conflate ethical violations with legal ones. Bernard’s reporting out-of-sequence was tantamount to a privacy violation. As soon as she saw that a ten-year-old was pregnant, she should have turned to authorities. There should never have been a time when that little girl was back in the custody of her mom and mom’s rapist boyfriend. But by circumventing this aspect of the reporting, she created a privacy violation (the lower-hanging fruit) because, with the law enforcement involved, it never could have made her pursuit of an abortion for the girl into a cause celebre.

      I do love being compared to Antifa. That is ENTIRELY your tribe Joe. But hey, if you’re a city-dweller, it’s your habitat too getting destroyed by a para-legal radical org that operates under the same tactics as the Klan (which was always at its strongest when under Dems). What we see in West Coast Cities–try THAT in a small town. “By any means necessary” is akin to the judicial activism that presumes Rokita is worse than Bernard, which I guess we were “one justice away” from seeing–IOW, a justice engaged the same lawfare Rokita tried to inflict on Bernard. They all suck.

    7. The Ohio authorities already knew, Lauren.

      Rokita tried to argue that Indiana authorities should have been notified, or that she didn’t notify Indiana in time.

      As usual, he lost. The facts were not on his side, nor yours.

      “You slavishly defend Bernard at every turn.”

      From an abusive government agent who is going after someone because her only crime is making someone look like a moron on TV?

      All day, every day. If Ryan Mears was going after someone for unjust prosecution and creating false crimes and wasting taxpayer money, I’d do the same. What happened to the Lauren raging against the uniparty and government overreach? It’s either bad or it’s not.

      The highest law enforcement agent of the state of Indiana shouldn’t be rolling around in the muck with an abortion doctor. Yet he is, and all he’s doing is making her the sympathetic figure, for an abortion that, let’s face it, everyone outside of Jim Bopp saw as needed.

    8. As always, the facts are on my side as you try desperately to disprove me for a distinction without a difference.

      She failed to report in the correct sequence, to the correct party (law enforcement), and violated a child’s privacy as a result. Since this was a criminal issue before it was an abortion-rights issue, the only people answering questions to the press should have been law enforcement…not an activist doctor.

      You can say that Rokita “shouldn’t be rolling around in the muck with an abortion doctor”, to which I agree. But Dr. Bernard and her activist chums in Ohio created the muck that she then self-righteously stood in.

      In your eyes, she was ALWAYS a sympathetic figure. It’s obvious you see that unethical doctor as a sort of hero because you like the cause she stands for–which of course, is a perfect example of “the ends justifying the means”. You were sympathetic to her a priori. And you despise Rokita. On the latter I largely agree. If I was sympathetic to Rokita I wouldn’t have said he fully deserved the charges against him, and that he needs to drop the axe he clearly has to grind.

      You’ll always be hyper-partisan Joe, which is why I take your allegations with a grain of salt. If I’m “far right” given that there are literally millions in Indiana alone who are farther right than me (and would defend Rokita 100%), it must be terrifying for you to live here.

    9. Go ahead and post the proof of that failure to report, Lauren. You know, from your superior sources. One link per post since for all your self-described superior intellect, you still can’t figure out how to post links here.

      “Distinction without a difference”.

      Sure. Just like you claiming you’re middle of the road. Show me that survey that shows 50% of Hoosiers want raped 10 year olds to be forced to give birth.

      Your move is so predictable – create a scenario in which you create a false dichotomy, so woe is me, I have to take the side of big government.

      “I want abortions to be safe legal and rare but the other side wants late term abortions to be OK so I side with the people who want no abortions”.

      Meanwhile the women who need late term abortions because they’re miscarrying (who, reminder, wanted to have kids) can’t get them because doctors can’t worry the health of the patient first, they have to worry about hyper-partisan lawyers like Todd Rokita and Jim Bopp second-guessing them. So they send the women home until they get worse or die. Who couldn’t see that coming, outside of anyone who maybe understood history?

      But hey, we really stuck it to that minuscule number of actual elective late term abortions, didn’t we? Guess all those women who died or ended up unable to have kids at all are just collateral damage.

      Just lean into the love of Christian Nationalist fascism and the warm hug it gives you. Enjoy watching government punch down on others, just don’t be surprised when they decide to punch down on you. You do realize you’re a second class citizen in the MAGA movement, right?

  3. Rokita’s “lengthy written statement” responding to the Court’s reprimand of his conduct is tantamount to a “flipping of the bird” at the Court. His rebuttal has a decidedly arrogant and angry tone, replete with political rhetoric that is inappropriate for his position in state government. He has no shame, or remorse.

    1. The three justices who settled for the reprimand had to know Rokita would react this way.

      Should have been disbarred. That’s two Attorney General’s in a row who’ve done little but waste taxpayer money and embarrass the residents with their behavior. Lionel Hutz would be an upgrade.

  4. Lauren,

    Dr. Bernard, presumably, does not have the expertise to address our society’s inability to prevent such victimization in the first place. Her focus on the provision of the abortion was, I believe, appropriate. Given the situation, a pregnant 10-year-old, I don’t believe her priorities were misplaced. Dr. Bernard advocates for making sure that future 10-year-olds will be protected in the same way.

    Factual Correction:
    In late May 2023, the Indiana Medical Licensing Board voted to reprimand Bernard on the charge of violating patient privacy by discussing the case, fining her US $3,000.[12][13] The board voted to clear Bernard of two other charges, finding that she “did not improperly report child abuse and that she is fit to practice medicine”.[12]

    [12] Bellware, Kim; Rosenzweig-Ziff, Dan (May 26, 2023). “Indiana board fines doctor for discussing rape victim’s abortion”. The Washington Post.

    [13] McCammon, Sarah (May 26, 2023). “Indiana reprimands doctor who spoke publicly about providing 10-year-old’s abortion”. NPR.

    1. Andrew–

      Wouldn’t a priority for protecting 10-year-olds be to get them away from the monsters who are raping them, first and foremost?

  5. Lauren,

    Protecting the child should be the priority of the entire community. I’m sure Dr. Barnard would be very happy never to see another 10-year-old rape victim again in her life. And I’m sure she has treated more than her fair share of victims of all sorts of abuse, including children.

    Dr. Barnard’s priority in this case was the immediate care of the patient, just as I would expect her priority would be treating the gunshot wound of a robbery victim and not discussing gun crime reduction. Particularly if a state banned treatment of the gunshot wound.

    Losing the providers of abortion medical care will not stop child abuse any more than stopping gunshot treatment would stop gun violence.

    1. Ah yes, the old “it takes a village” horse poo. You’re deflecting. Haven’t you ever heard of “diffusion of responsibility”? How well are the most communal-minded American cities doing at looking after their opioid addicts? How are they doing at curbing shoplifting? You need punishments for bad behavior, and an agreement for those standards for what is “bad”. If we’re fuzzy on rape, and theft, and criminal use of illegal substances, well…you get exactly what we’re seeing in American cities.

      Dr. Bernard’s priority was misplaced. This is without dispute. An ethical organization punished her and she withdrew her defamation lawsuit. At this point, she seems to be (quite wisely) counting her losses and moving on, as she should. She made a mistake. Not necessarily a bad person, but she did let her activism cloud her judgment. Rokita is doing the same thing in continuing to go after her.

      If she was genuinely concerned about “immediate care of the patient” she would get that little girl the hell away from her guardians. Based on how she handled the situation, the girl could have been raped again repeatedly, even after Bernard was aware that she was pregnant and was making arrangements to cross her into Indiana to get the abortion.

      No reasonable person would claim that making abortion illegal will stop abortions. That’s as ludicrous as thinking banning weapons will stop people from using them to hurt others. Or the fact that murder is illegal will prevent murder. But if “bad” is only “sometimes bad” you get where we are today. Degradation of standards for everyone, because the bad will only drag the good down, using the gray area of “sometimes”.

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