Tort claim filed against Rokita over statements about abortion doctor

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An attorney representing the doctor who oversaw the abortion procedure of a 10-year-old rape victim filed a tort claim notice Tuesday against Indiana 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 show Bernard did appropriately report the abortion to the Indiana Department of Health.

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

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.

Rokita’s actions prompted Lauren Robel, who served as dean of the IU Maurer School of Law from 2003 to 2011, to send a three-page letter Friday to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, seeking a disciplinary investigation.

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13 thoughts on “Tort claim filed against Rokita over statements about abortion doctor

  1. Rokita has no facts on his side, and he will lose this lawsuit. And once again his amateur grandstanding will cost Indiana taxpayers who will pay for his defense against the lawsuit. Hopefully once the court rules on the matter, disciplinary actions will be taken against him. He is not worthy of holding the office.

    1. Brent B.—-Could not have articulated this any better. The man is a grand-standing, ego-driven individual who, sadly, was elected by Republicans who do nothing more than go in and pull a lever. No thought. No awareness….and now we will all pay.

  2. Indiana has an Anti-SLAPP statute that is designed to stop these types of frivolous lawsuits at the motion to dismiss stage. Defamation lawsuits are exactly the kind of frivolous lawsuits that get dismissed on the Anti-SLAPP. I would relish the opportunity to defend this frivolous lawsuit. This is a matter of public interest; after all, the Star printed the article FIRST. And, the child-dismemberer made herself a public figure by repeatedly getting quoted and discussing the matter in public to grandstand in advance of our legislature’s caucus. That means you apply a much higher burden of proof, even if you pass the dismissal stage. She’s not going to get “damages” because of what Rokita said. And, the harm to her is going to come from the people of Indiana speaking through their representatives ending her comfortable way of life gained through slaughtering the innocent. If anyone is grandstanding, it is Delaney. She’s lost before. She’ll lose again. Don’t trust what she says as gospel. Her parents are both politicians. This is not an accident that she’s involved. And, Robel should be ashamed of herself for publishing her request for investigation. The misuse of that confidential process by political activists is appalling.

    1. How many frivolous lawsuits has Rokita pursued to the expense of every Hoosier? I’m sure he revels in the publicity and probably has his ticket punched for another Fox “News” extravaganza.

    2. The misuse of the public trust and his elected office by the chief legal officer of the State of Indiana in an effort to restart his political career is what’s appalling.

      All he’s doing is making an abortion doctor a sympathetic figure. Your anger should be directed at how inept Todd Rokita is.

    3. Rokita went on the news over a week after the documentation around the abortion was filed and claimed no such documentation was filed. Explain to me how the chief legal officer of the state of Indiana didn’t know that before he made that appearance or statement. Because it took the news media around 5 minutes to prove he was wrong.

      Are you saying he’s under no obligation to get his facts right before he speaks on behalf of the state of Indiana? That, because abortion is bad, it justifies shooting from the hip, speaking and making allegations first and investigating later?

      Lionel Hutz might be a better attorney than Todd Rokita.

    4. Are you kidding? How is it NOT defamation for the state’s top law enforcement professional to go on national TV and claim that an Indiana doctor is a habitual violator of the law, when in fact she has not violated any law? Do we really have NO expectation that our elected officials utter truth when they open their mouths on national television, rather than smear the professional reputation of someone who was providing a service that is legal in Indiana, and who dotted all her i’s and crossed her t’s, as required by law? This lawsuit is anything but frivolous. What is REALLY frivolous was Rokita’s intervention in this matter in the first place.

      Rokita was clearly, clearly trying to score political points that have absolutely nothing to do with the job he was elected to do, that our tax dollars are paying him to do. He has no shame, and apparently no regard for the actual law of Indiana, either. He is wholly unfit for his elected job. Now, thanks to the intervention of the former IU law school dean, our state Supreme Court can determine whether he is fit to practice law in Indiana.

  3. An altruistic effort to root out wrongdoing by a sincere and committed servant leader isn’t commenced with a bombastic and ungrounded appearance on Faux “News” primetime. This is campaigning for governor by a dirtbag – almost reminiscent of Michael Avenatti grandstanding back in the day. Asshat General…..