December 30, 2020

Indiana AG: No Charges Recommended In Fetal Remains Case

In this file photo, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill gives an update on the Ulrich Klopfer investigation at the County-City Building in South Bend on Oct. 3, 2019. - FILE PHOTO:  Jennifer Weingart/WVPE Public Radio

In this file photo, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill gives an update on the Ulrich Klopfer investigation at the County-City Building in South Bend on Oct. 3, 2019.

FILE PHOTO: Jennifer Weingart/WVPE Public Radio
RICK CALLAHAN - Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s attorney general recommended no criminal charges or licensing actions Wednesday after concluding an investigation into more than 2,000 sets of fetal remains found last year at the suburban Chicago garage of a late prolific abortion doctor.

Attorney General Curtis Hill said his office's investigation determined the fetal remains were from abortions Dr. Ulrich Klopfer had performed at his three Indiana clinics between 2000 and 2003 and found that Klopfer failed to arrange for their proper disposition as required by state law. Investigators determined that Klopfer apparently acted alone in his handling of the remains, Hill said.

“No one is believed to have assisted Dr. Klopfer in his actions, and because Dr. Klopfer is dead, he cannot be charged with a crime or with medical misconduct," Hill said in a statement, adding that he “does not recommend any criminal charges or licensing actions in this case."

The investigation also found that Klopfer failed to arrange for the appropriate disposal of tens of thousands of patient health records after his Indiana clinics in Forty Wayne, Gary and South Bend closed in 2014 and 2015. Klopfer's medical license was suspended indefinitely in 2016 by Indiana regulators who cited shoddy record-keeping and substandard patient monitoring.

After Klopfer died in September 2019 at age 79, relatives sorting through his belongings at his home in Will County, Illinois, found 2,246 sets of medically preserved fetal remains in his garage, which was stacked from floor to ceiling with boxes filled with personal items and garbage. Later, 165 more were found in a trunk of a car at a Chicago-area business where Klopfer kept several vehicles.

Those 2,411 fetal remains were buried in February at a South Bend, Indiana, cemetery in a donated plot during a mass burial ceremony where Hill said their discovery was “horrifying to anyone with normal sensibilities.”

“We hope the results of our investigation provide much-needed closure to everyone who has been impacted by this gruesome case," according to Wednesday's statement from Hill, a Republican who leaves office in January.

Klopfer had performed tens of thousands of abortions over 40 years, mainly in Indiana and often as the only abortion doctor serving South Bend, Gary and Fort Wayne. He was a reviled figure among anti-abortion activists, who held weekly demonstrations outside his clinics, sometimes blocking entryways.

Klopfer’s career started unraveling in the 2000s with a flurry of complaints, including that he performed an abortion on a 10-year-old raped by her uncle and did not notify law enforcement.

Wednesday's final report from the attorney general’s office said the agency will retain more than 35,000 patient records found at Klopfer's clinics and other sites until 2024, at which point they will be destroyed. Another 84,000 older patient records that dated from 1977 to 2012 have already been destroyed.

Hill, a conservative Republican who is in the final days as attorney general, has faced allegations that he drunkenly groped a state lawmaker and three other women during a March 2018 party at an Indianapolis bar marking the end of that year’s legislative session.

Hill has denied wrongdoing and an investigation by a special prosecutor ended with a decision not to file criminal charges against him in the groping case.

But in June he completed a 30-day suspension of his law license after the Indiana Supreme Court found “by clear and convincing evidence that (Hill) committed the criminal act of battery” against the women.

Hill's reelection bid failed when he lost the Republican nomination in June to former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, who defeated Democrat Jonathan Weinzapfel, a former Evansville mayor, in the November election.

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