Rape and Child Custody

As the Hollywood sex abuse scandal widens, another issue comes to mind: can someone convicted of criminal sexual misconduct get child custody of the offspring he fathers? It may seem like an unbelievable question, but a Michigan mother just found out it is very real.

In Sandusky, Michigan, a district court judge just stayed his order which granted an alleged rapist joint custody and parenting time as father of an 8-year-old boy after the judge learned details of the case.

According to USA Today, a standardized form was used in the original case the lawyer for the boy’s mother said. The boy’s mother had requested welfare benefits. To qualify for payments, she had to file a paternity complaint.

This young woman … completed and signed a paternity questionnaire in which she disclosed the alleged father’s name and address. She further signed an agreement to cooperate with pursuing paternity and signed a statement authorizing the disclosure of her address.

Federal law requires state departments of health and human services to establish paternity and pursue a child-support order from a court, Bob Wheaton, the Michigan department’s spokesman, wrote in email.

The department would need to be notified by the custodial parent of any reason to determine good cause not to pursue a child support order.

Rape Survivor Child Custody Act

This is actually a national problem.

Each year, there are approximately 32,000 pregnancies resulting from rape, according to a 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

This used to happen so much, I’ve actually written about this nationwide phenomenon of a rapist getting custody before.

Originally, in Pennsylvania, State Senator Randy Vulakovich and Representative Joe Hackett introduced the Rape Survivor Child Custody and Support Act in the Senate and House, respectively.

Congress also got involved. President Obama signed the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act into law as part of the bipartisan Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.

The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act boosts funding for states that allow women to petition for the termination of parental rights based on clear and convincing evidence that a child was conceived through rape.

Back in Michigan

The standard form that the boy’s mother was asked to fill out doesn’t have anywhere to state her concerns. The county is now reviewing its handling of paternity complaints.

The judge, Gregory Ross, scheduled a hearing after halting his September order. That order also had required the father to pay $346 a month in child support and maintain health-care coverage.

Christopher Mirasolo, now 27, of Brown City, Mich., pleaded guilty to attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct in the Sept. 6, 2008, assault of the woman, who was 12 years old when he was 19.

Sanilac County released the alleged rapist after 6½ months in jail. He also later pleaded no contest to third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in a March 29, 2010, incident involving a 15-year-old girl, serving four years in state prison for that crime, and is a registered sex offender.

The USA Today article is here.