We’ve all heard the story in the news out of Michigan. A convicted rapist was awarded joint custody of his child. The problem is that the mother of the child was one of his victims, and that child was a result of rape. So how does something like this even happen?
Christopher Mirasolo reached a plea deal in the case of the sexual assault and kidnapping of a 12 year old victim. She was held in an abandoned home for 2 days, and he continually threatened to kill her. Sadly, Mirasolo wasn’t even charged with sexual assault until a month later, when his victim was pregnant. With the initial charges, he should have been imprisoned for 25 years to life. Because of the plea deal, he ended up serving less than a year on greatly reduced charges.
After serving his time on the reduced charges, Miraloso was again arrested and tried for the sexual assault of a different 13 year old victim. This time he was given 4 years as a sentence. This alone is a disturbing thing. He has now shown that young teenage girls are his preference. He is a child predator. Yet he is given a slap on the wrist the first time, and a ridiculously light sentence for his second offense. Perhaps if the law had erred on the side of either of his victims, this never would have been an issue.
His first victim had her child and had raised him for 8 years. Rape victim mothers have a difficult spot in society. One can only imagine how hard it was for her, 12 years old and pregnant. People that knew about the rape might have been sympathetic to her plight, but you can bet she still got plenty of side-eye. Even now, 8 years later, people do the math and figure out how old she was when she had her son. She is left to either explain a very painful time in her life and justify her decision to have and raise her child, or keep her silence and allow people to draw their own conclusions. Let’s face it, most conclusions would be the negative variety. She’s in a no win situation.
Regardless, she is a rape victim, and should be protected by the law. Unfortunately the laws that failed her once, have failed her yet again. Due to the need for public assistance, she was asked about the father of her child. She was told that if she did not disclose his name she would lose her assistance. To the best of her knowledge that is all she did, disclose his name. There is no place on the form to indicate he was a rapist. Not even a checkbox. In the pursuit of money, the government didn’t worry themselves with pesky little details like that. All they wanted was a way to recoup some of the assistance money.
According to Rebecca Kiessling, the rape victim’s attorney, the assistant prosecutor filed a consent judgment affiliation order with the court. This is basically a form that states all parties are aware and consent to orders for parental rights, child support, visitation, etc. It should be signed by both parents, but according to Ms. Kiessling it wasn’t. She stated that her client never signed it, and wasn’t even aware of it’s existence. She never had the opportunity to explain to the courts why this should not be granted. And granted it was. Her rapist was given her home address and contact information. She was given an order to return to the state of Michigan to allow her rapist access to her child.
Fortunately, with public awareness and outcry, the judge has rescinded that decision. There are now conversations taking place about the laws that allowed this to happen. And it does happen. It’s actually a common filing in many courts where the custodial parent receives public assistance. The failure is that it was rubber stamped as if both parents had consented, when they had not. It is time for our local governments to find ways to vet these types of filings. Something as simple as a checkbox on the application to clarify that the minor child is a product of sexual assault. This could flag the application for special handling.
Until a solution is found, rape victim mothers run this risk when they seek public assistance. Because our government needs to recoup some of the money, the mothers could be victimized twice. Once by their rapist, and once by the courts. You can help by finding out what the laws, rules and guidelines are for your cities and towns, and lobbying for changes where needed to protect these women. Every voice counts. Make yours heard.
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