George Tiller complied with the law in reporting underage girls who entered his Wichita clinic for abortions, the Sedgwick County district attorney said Wednesday.
“What our concern was if someone was watching out for the welfare of these children,” said District Attorney Nola Foulston, noting that the law mandates reporting of possible sexual abuse against children.
“And we found that they were,” she said.
But former state Attorney General Phill Kline, who fought a two-year battle to subpoena the records Foulston based her findings on, dismissed her investigation as “superfluous and meaningless.”
Foulston said she did not address Kline’s allegations that Tiller performed illegal late abortions.
Kline had sought misdemeanor charges against Tiller in Sedgwick County late last month, before he left office. Those charges were dismissed when Foulston said Kline had no authority to file them. She said she wanted to review the records and decide on any charges.
Wednesday, Foulston determined that Tiller properly reported the cases of his clinic involving girls under 16 — the age of legal consent in Kansas.
In at least one case, she said, Tiller gave law enforcement forensic evidence that led to the conviction of an adult who raped a 10-year-old girl in another state.
However, Kline questioned the thoroughness of Foulston’s investigation, noting that he presented no evidence that Tiller had failed to report suspected child sex abuse because he didn’t accuse the doctor of it.
Instead, his complaint focused on how Tiller used patients’ mental-health concerns to justify the late abortions, alleging the reasons Tiller gave didn’t meet exceptions to restrictions on such procedures.
“The district attorney’s investigation is like looking at the moon and proclaiming that she doesn’t see any evidence that it is the sun,” Kline said. “Her investigation is nonsensical and serves no law enforcement purpose.”
Foulston said she was simply completing what Kline set out to do. Kline had said he had sought records of two Kansas abortion clinics because he wanted to protect children from sex predators, who he said might be using medical privacy laws to shield their crimes.
Kansans for Life and Operation Rescue, a Wichita anti-abortion group whose members often protest outside Tiller’s clinic, released a statement accusing Foulston of bias toward Tiller.
Most of the statements agreed with those of Don McKinney, a Wichita lawyer and abortion protester named by Kline as a special prosecutor, then fired by new Attorney General Paul Morrison this week.
“The superficial, so-called investigation by Foulston was a publicity stunt to protect Tiller,” McKinney said in a statement. “She did not investigate the charges filed against Tiller, she went off and investigated something else.”
Foulston said during her news conference that Morrison’s office would continue to look into the allegations Kline left on late abortions.
A spokeswoman for Morrison said his office was still trying to gather up the abortion records, which she said apparently had been sent to various parties across the state. Morrison has vowed to review the records and determine whether any laws were broken.
Tiller’s lawyers Dan Monnat and Lee Thompson said Wednesday that Foulston’s investigation helps show what they’ve said all along: The doctor has not broken any laws.
“Ms. Foulston’s thorough investigation,” Monnat said, “has now made it clear that, in fact, child rapists are behind bars because of Dr. Tiller’s strict compliance with the letter of the reporting laws and his cooperation with law enforcement authorities in several states.”
Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributing: Associated Press
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By RON SYLVESTER