Planned Parenthood looked the other way, Mason rape victim says

It was one of the worst cases of child abuse Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel has ever seen – and she has seen a few.

“I thought I would get held in contempt of court because I argued it so vigorously in court,” she said, still outraged by the case eight months later. “The father was basically treating his daughter like she was his wife.”

John Blanks Jr. of Mason was sentenced to five years – one year in prison for every year he molested his daughter, beginning when she was 13. “She had to get up out of his bed in the morning and go to school, if you can imagine what that was like,” Hutzel said.

In May 2006, the girl told a Mason High School official what was going on. “She finally decided she wasn’t going to take it anymore and she didn’t want her sibling to become a victim,” Hutzel said.Now the girl says in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that the abuse could have been stopped earlier. In November 2004, when she was 16, the girl was forced by her father to have an abortion. She reported the abuse at the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Cincinnati, her lawyer says.

“She tried to put an end to this abuse,” said Brian Hurley, “by informing a Planned Parenthood employee that she has been forced to have sex and to do things she did not want to do. Tragically for her, Planned Parenthood‘s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy was in full force.”

State law requires teachers, clinic workers and others to report suspected abuse to police. But Planned Parenthood “completely ignored her cry for help,” Hurley said, and his client was “raped on many occasions over the next one and one-half years.”

Becki Brenner, president of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, said: “I won’t speak on individual patients, but I am very eager to see the facts of this case come out for public review. I can’t tell you the facts because of the legal issues, but I think people may be surprised.”

She also said, “We do not have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.”

Hurley also represents “Jane Roe,” a victim of sexual abuse by her soccer coach at age 14. She was taken by the abuser to Planned Parenthood in the fall of 2004 for an abortion. Although she used a junior-high school I.D. and the coach, 21, paid with a credit card and driver’s license, Planned Parenthood failed to report the abuse.

Planned Parenthood officials said they were misled and did not know the man who gave permission and paid for the abortion was the abuser.

That case is still in court. An appeals court hearing is expected Tuesday on Judge Patrick Dinkelacker’s order for Planned Parenthood to turn over records of underage abortions to Hurley. As in similar cases in Indiana and Kansas, Planned Parenthood has invoked patient privacy. Even if names and addresses are deleted, Planned Parenthood attorney Daniel Buckley argued there are “profound and significant privacy issues.”

But based on records obtained so far, Hurley said, “My guess is that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and that is why Planned Parenthood will do anything to prevent us from seeing its records.”

In the Roe case, a Planned Parenthood “Documentation Form for Suspected Sexual or Child Abuse Report” says:

“Patient reports pregnancy is a result of sexual assault by a stranger.”

“After consultation with (Planned Parenthood) attorney, report of a crime to the police was not made; due to physician-patient privilege, we are prohibited from reporting as no severe bodily injury was reported.”

Hurley said prosecutors in four local counties know of no such exception to reporting requirements. Hutzel agreed. If evidence of severe injury were required, “there would be no reports in the vast majority of situations,” Hurley said.

Hutzel said she is “keeping the door open” for possible criminal prosecution depending on what is revealed in the civil case.

“By failing to report it and giving her an abortion and birth-control pills, they sent her home with him and he abused her for another year and a half,” she said. “That had to have been one of the darkest days of her life. She has just had an abortion, now she has to get back in the car and go home with him.”

Hurley also found a note in Planned Parenthood files about sexual abuse that mentions “don’t ask, don’t tell.”