How local journalists proved a 10-year-old’s abortion wasn’t a hoax


It felt like half the country doubted the case existed. The Indianapolis Star had published a story July 1 about a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio who was forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion because of new restrictions in her home state. An indignant President Biden cited the story a week later as an example of extreme abortion laws, and his political opponents pounced. They suggested it was a lie or a hoax. A national newspaper’s editorial board concluded it was “too good to confirm.” Even Ohio’s attorney general called it a “fabrication.”

Bethany Bruner paid that all little mind. Instead, she went looking.

The Columbus Dispatch public safety reporter and her colleagues spent days studying public records and calling sources, painstakingly narrowing their search for the girl’s attacker to central Ohio. Then Bruner spotted an entry on the July 13 local court docket and learned a man would be arraigned that morning for the rape of a 10-year-old. She quickly hoofed the half-mile from her office to the courthouse.

Inside the courtroom, Bruner kept glancing at the door, expecting to see another reporter enter. None did as the judge called up the

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