A state representative is trying to change the law to make it so convicted rapists can't get custody of children they fathered through the act.
Rep. Pam Faris, D-Clio, introduced House Bill 5132 Tuesday, the same day a Sanilac County judge rescinded his order to grant custody and parental rights to a Brown City man who conceived his son through the rape of a 12-year-old girl.
The bill would prohibit courts from granting custody or parenting time to a biological parent who is convicted of or pleads guilty to first-, second-, third- or fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, or the attempt of those crimes, which led to the conception of that child.
The bill also states courts should deny custody and parenting time if a fact-finding hearing convinces the court the child was conceived because of a rape.
Judge Gregory Ross signed an order Sept. 22 naming Christopher Mirasolo the father of an 8-year-old boy and granted him custody and parenting time.
Tuesday he rescinded that order, stating prosecutors did not tell him the boy was conceived through rape.
Mirasolo pleaded guilty to attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct in the Sept. 6, 2008, assault of the boy's mother, who was 12 at the time. He pleaded no contest to third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in a March 29, 2010, incident involving a 15-year-old girl.
“I joined the rest of the world in shock, disbelief and anger when I read the story out of Brown City, Michigan, of a young woman who became pregnant as a result of being raped as a 12-year-old, only to find out years later that her rapist may have just been given access to her personal information and custody and parenting time with her child,” Faris said in a statement. “Sadly, this woman’s experiences show exactly what our state needs to change to better serve and protect victims. From making it clear on DHHS applications that concern for safety is an acceptable reason not to provide certain information, to eliminating loopholes in state law, there can be no doubt that our courts shall not grant a rapist custody or parenting time with a child who was conceived as the result of their attack.”
The paternity hearing came after the child's mother requested state aid.
The Michigan Department of Human Health and Human Services requires parents to provide information on a parent who is not contributing financially when requesting assistance. While there is a good cause exception, Faris said it is not clear enough.
"Since this story broke, I have been in contact with DHHS about the ‘good cause’ exemption and the new application they have been working on for some time," she said in the statement. "To their credit, they realized the current problem and agreed to make it clear on the new forms that if sharing information on another parent might endanger the applicant or their child, the exemption applies.”
Contact Liz Shepard at (810) 989-6273 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lvshepard.
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