I’ve learned in this line of work that true life is stranger than fiction and that the law is stranger than just about everything.
A teenage mother from Massachusetts is in a legal fight with the man who confessed to raping her over visitation rights of the child that was conceived during the horrible crime. The mother in question was raped at the age of 14 by a 20-year-old man she knew from her church.
When the mother of the victim found out, she informed the authorities. The girl, who was barely a teenager at the time, decided to keep the baby. She told FOX Boston:
“He threatened me. He told me that he could make my life upside down, and I wouldn’t have anybody and he would pin it all on me. So I was scared. Being Christian, the way I looked at it, the way I thought of it, this is a baby, an innocent person that didn’t do anything wrong. Like, why should I take away that life?”
The man in question (names of either are not provided out of respect to the victim) was charged with 4 counts of statutory rape in 2009 and plead guilty last year to all. So how in hell does this person have any right to continue to haunt this family and this young mother by having the gall to request visitation!?! It turns out that it’s all about loop-holes in the law.
The prosecutor had asked for a 3-5 year prison sentence but the judge sentenced him to 16 years of probation as long as he acknowledged he’s the father of the baby and abided by the rules of the court. The probate court in question ordered him to pay child support. It was this requirement that opened the door legally for this man to request visitation rights.
The victim’s family believe this request is only happening because it’s now time for this man to pay up:
“He hasn’t cared up until now. Why should he now? She’s three. She doesn’t know who he is.”
The rapist’s attorney wouldn’t comment about the request for visitation but did state that the relationship was consensual while admitting it was inappropriate given that the girl was only 14 (no crap Mr. lawyer). The attorney representing the victim’s family, Wendy Murphy, is looking to have the sentencing changed.
“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.”
In addition to changing the sentencing Murphy is also requesting that the criminal be ordered to stay away from the child and mother.
“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.”
It turns out that this legal issue has been addressed in other states with 9 allowing or requiring the termination of parental rights and 7 allowing or requiring the stripping of custody or visitation rights.
Murphy summed up her (and my) feelings about the situation at hand this way:
“This was a young girl. Way, way beneath the age of consent. If the judge thinks this isn’t as serious as a stranger rape, and if this is a judge saying to himself, ‘I wouldn’t have done this if it had been a stranger in a dark alley,’ then that’s a judge that maybe shouldn’t be sitting on criminal cases because we got over that distinction I think 30 years ago. What kind of legal system commands a toddler into a relationship with the man who raped her mother?”
Not looking at it through the insane goggles of justice, could you imagine if this man is granted visitation? If I were the parents of this young girl who was violated, yet brave enough to stand by her conviction to have her baby, I believe I’d have to break the law that had so egregiously failed my family to protect her and my grandchild.
The District Attorney is on board for a change in the law in the state to protect women who choose to have a baby conceived during the act of rape. This is a precedent setting case and the state needs to get this right. And what’s “right” for this case from my vantage? This little 3-year-old girl should never, ever have to see the face of the criminal that violated her mother.