Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) may be facing a defamation lawsuit after he attacked an Indiana doctor on live television, making since-debunked allegations related to an abortion she performed on a 10-year-old rape victim.
The child rape victim had to travel to Indiana from Ohio for the procedure due to Ohio’s abortion ban.
The doctor, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, filed a tort claim notice against Rokita on Tuesday, which is the first step toward filing a defamation suit as required by Indiana law. The notice gives the attorney general 90 days to respond before Bernard can file the suit.
Bernard’s attorney, Kathleen A. DeLaney, informed Rokita in the notice that her client “intends to seek damages for security costs, legal fees, reputational harm, and emotional distress” caused by the attorney general’s smear campaign against the doctor.
Delaney explained how the attorney general allegedly smeared her client, which began when he appeared on Fox News on Wednesday and accused Bernard of being an “abortion activist acting as a doctor.”
Rokita then announced during that same interview that he was opening an investigation into Bernard, alleging without evidence that Bernard had illegally covered up the abortion and claiming the doctor had a “history of failing to report.”
Delaney pointed out in the tort claim notice that a “simple check” via a license verification search online would have confirmed that Bernard’s record doesn’t show any of that “history” Rokita was talking about.
“Mr. Rokita either knew the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the statements,” Delaney wrote, adding that “given the current political atmosphere in the United States, Mr. Rokita’s comments were intended to heighten public condemnation of Dr. Bernard, who legally provided legitimate medical care.”
Delaney also pointed out that Rokita’s accusation that Bernard didn’t report the abortion collapsed in the face of a simple public records search that confirmed Bernard had filed a report to Department of Child Services and the Indiana Department of Health, as required.
Delaney’s notice did not specify what exactly Bernard is seeking in damages because “[t]he dollar amount of the loss is not ascertainable at this time, as the harm is ongoing.”
Rokita has not retracted his accusations against Bernard despite the fact that his allegations have been debunked.
His office did not respond to TPM’s request for comment at the time of publication.
Read the notice below: