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If A Rapist Can Claim Paternity Rights, Our Justice System Has Completely Failed

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justice system brokenThis scenario is almost impossible to believe. Honestly, this news item makes me want to do more than bang my own skull into oblivion, it sends me into a downright violent rage. In Boston, Massachusetts, a teenage girl will have to fight her rapist in family court to make sure that he isn’t awarded visitation with his biological child. I can not believe that the justice system would fail a rape victim and her child so completely.

When this young woman was 14 years old, she was raped by a friend’s older sister’s 20-year-old boyfriend. The man threatened and terrified his young victim, but she finally told her mother what had happened. Together, they went down to the police station and pressed charges. Given that the young girl was pregnant and not at the legal age of consent, it was one of the few rape cases that should be easy to prosecute.

The Judge deciding this case could have given the man three to five years in prison, as the county prosecutor requested. Instead,  Judge Thomas McGuire decided that he was going to “help out” the young mother. In a decision that should have the man removed from the bench, he chose to give the rapist 16 years of probation, on the condition that the man declare his paternity of the child and pay child support.

Let’s be very clear here, this second set of DNA is not a father. He should not have “declared paternity.” He threatened and coerced a young girl into having sex with him, which resulted in a pregnancy. This man is a predator, not a parent. And as the young woman’s lawyer justly points out, any money awarded to the mother to help care for the child shouldn’t be considered “support.” Attorney Wendy Murphy explains,

“The consequences of sentencing this man to probation for 16 years, which is really until the child becomes an adult, and making him declare paternity and pay child support, includes that this guy gets a legal father-child relationship out of the deal.

All this family wants is to cut the cord. Get the rapist out of their lives. And if the judge wants to help them financially that’s great. But let’s call it restitution, not child support.”

With child support comes the opportunity to have a relationship with your child. It allows the rapist to push for visitation, although that would be a separate decision that the Judge would have to make. But why would you even open up the opportunity, and force this young woman to face her rapist in family court, pay her own money for a lawyer, just to protect her child from her attacker?

This entire case is beyond understanding. I cannot put into words how disturbing it is to think of telling this young girl that she has to stay in contact with her rapist for the rest of their child’s life.

If you take sex by force, or you sleep with someone who is unable to give consent, you should lose all parental rights to any child that might be born of your crime. When you choose such a despicable act, your biological tie to a child ceases to matter. The fact that any woman would have to deal with this situation in a court of law is a complete failure of the justice system. There is no other way to describe it.

We send thoughts and prayers to that brave teen and her family through this difficult and trying time.

(Photo: y3s0rn0/Shutterstock)