Child Custody Rights for Rapists?!?!

60 percent of sexual assault cases will never be reported to the police, and only eight out of a hundred people who are reported get prosecuted. About 3 percent of rapists will serve any time in jail. But these are extremely low numbers when about every 2 minutes an American is being sexually assaulted.

Each year there are approximately 32,000 pregnancies resulting from rape. While many of these pregnancies are for the most part terminated, at least one third of the victims do give birth to their children. Reasoning for the victims actions can stem from their religious beliefs, to the comfort they received from their unborn child during a difficult pregnancy. But due to the “legal door that is left wide open” the victims of sexual violence are sometimes still victimized by their rapist. How is this possible you may ask? It may sound unfathomable, but in some states rapists have the ability to assert their parental rights and fight for custody of the child they fathered through sexual violence.

Lets go back to the Ariel Castro Ohio kidnapping trial last year that shook America as a whole. Ariel Castro had held three women hostage for over 8 years and fathered one child from one of his victims. Before he was convicted Castro asked to be granted parental rights of the child that he shared with one of his victims. But due to the severity of his crimes and the double life sentencing the judge denied his request. Although Ariel Castro’s actions sound out there and wild, Ohio and some states alike have no laws on the books preventing convicted or alleged rapists from trying to seize custody of the children they conceived during their acts of violence. According to MotherJones.com at least 24 states now have laws addressing the custody of children conceived through rape. Why does it have to take such a controversial trial for lawmakers to finally decide to protect the parental rights of victims of sexual violence? Maybe because it is not so prevalent to hear of convicted or alleged rapists asking for custody of the children they fathered. But victims of date rape could also fall prey to these potholes.

The startling fact is that 31 states still allow these convicted rapists to sue for child custody and visitation rights. States assume that because the child was conceived through rape the felon would not want anything to do with the child, but that is questionable. Arizona is one of the states that allows these rapist to sue for rights, but is it really a right they should be allotted too? Even a child that is born due to incest, the rapist can still ask for parental rights of these children. But for the most part rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, like an abusive husband or an acquaintance. Regardless of the connection these women should be protected by the law, and it shouldn’t take a controversial case to do it.

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10 Responses to Child Custody Rights for Rapists?!?!

  1. Wunderkynd says:

    I had no idea that rapists could, or would, assert parental rights. It truly sounds unimaginable. Thank you for sharing this topic. It would be interesting to know just how often this happens to rape victims. I actually tried doing a Google search to find stats on how many cases have been brought before a judge, but I couldn’t find anything. I mean, how many judges would actually grant parental rights in this kind of case?? I would hope none, especially considering how woman are usually favored in child custody cases. Regardless, I do think that there should be laws prohibiting even the possibility of a rapist being able to assert parental rights.

  2. nicksalute says:

    Very interesting post, I really enjoyed reading it. I find the legal system fascinating for its ability to address (or not address in this case) every possible issue that one can think of. In the case of parental rights for rapists, it is truly astonishing that an issue such as this one is even present.
    My only theory as to why there aren’t laws prohibiting this in every state is that it is almost too absurd of a situation to even prepare for. I would like to see some statistics that express how many times a situation like this one has occurred; I cant imagine that it would be a high number, but I could be wrong.
    Also, it would be interesting to see if any of these cases were won by the rapist, and custody was granted. If so, we have a serious problem within our legal system.
    When discussing situations such as this one, it would be nice to be able put aside the entire legal process and use our common sense to make a decision; it would definitely save a lot of time and money. But unfortunately, rights are rights and even seemingly ridiculous cases such as this one must be recognized. Gotta love the law.

  3. pjshield says:

    This is an incredible post. I had no idea and never even really thought about the possibility of rapists trying for custody rights from one of their victims. I couldn’t imagine a scenario where the rapist would actually win a case but like the other comments here have noted, I could be wrong. In my personal opinion, I think that people who commit egregious acts such as rape have forfeited most of the rights that the American legal system allowed. They should only be entitled still to basic human rights at that point and certainly should not be considered to have custody rights over one of their victims. This is a situation where I hope the law prevails and acts as it is supposed to in protecting the rights of law abiding citizens rather than those who take advantage of the law.

  4. jenny9213 says:

    Wow! In complete honesty, I hadn’t given the rapists much thought in regards to the rights they have as the biological parent. As you mentioned, it hadn’t occurred to me that after these acts are committed that the perpetrator be interested in becoming a parent to the child. I wonder if it’s the same for female rapists. If the female is the perpetrator and wishes to keep the child, is she able to after such acts have been committed? This blog you wrote certainly blew my mind! It is intriguing and repulsive that a perpetrator of such violent acts be allowed to have parental rights. I understand that we all have rights under the law, but it’s as if after these sort of acts the perpetrator has denied any parental rights. I mean the child is the consequence to this sort of heinous acts.

  5. ajgoldsmith says:

    Thank you for your post. I think we tend to look at these issues through the lens of rational people who do not understand irrationality in a form that promulgates acts such as those mentioned above. I believe we need to recognize that these people do not think like us, they are motivated by reasons that we could not understand because of their effects on victims. However, many of these people commit these acts for the reason of exercising power over other individuals. When viewing the terrible acts of rapists through this mode of thought, it makes “sense” for them to continue to try and maintain power of their victims. Though the law is not a tool that can bring about the end to rape, as that is a societal/cultural problem, it certainly can make moves toward addressing the problem. Using the excuse of the law not doing enough ignores the potential good the law can do. We should not cede the short term well being of individuals in society for a greater potential long term prosperity. The two are not zero-sum. Instead, we need to work on as many fronts as possible, whether theoretical or activist, to relieve the suffering of the present and lay the groundwork for a thriving future.

  6. Tracy Encizo says:

    I, too, never entertained the thought that rapists would sue for parental rights of children fathered through sexual violence! Human beings’ capacity for cruelty, irrationality, and sheer narcissism never fails to surprise me. Thank you for making us aware of this as another controversial topic within the legal and social justice spheres. Personally, I agree with the poster who said that rapists should forfeit all rights other than basic rights. And if forfeiture of basic rights isn’t possible, victims should have a mechanism that protects them and their children from the possibility of any kind of contact with the perpetrator.

  7. I am completely speechless as to how many judges has let this case go through. I would love to hear the actual number of judges or cases that has passed this and let a known predator have that right. To think these parents, even though they are parents of course, still have that right after having that charge against them. I think if a adoption was to happen with this person that was charge we would be thinking differently but just because it is their own child they get it? crazy!

  8. ffleming72 says:

    This is a very interesting post that I think informed a lot of us. I never thought that an accused rapist had the power to sue for technically his child’s custody. It really blows my mind that this is even an option. However, I guess it falls mainly on the judge for how that case turns out. I could not really see a judge really allowing this to happen in the court. On the other hand I am sure this has happened a lot because we would not be discussing it if this did not happen. Also I like what Adam said that this is another way for the rapist to have control over their victim after they have been raped. Great blog post!

  9. lgallar1 says:

    I agree with you 100% This is an amazing piece and I am glad you brought this up. Sexual Assault of any type is horrendous and just disgusting. Now if you have a child due to this, it is even extra horrible if you have to see the face of the person fighting the right to see the child. Granted this is horrible, but we need to think of the child as well. Will he/she want to know who this person was and see him possibly? This is a double edge sword. Just a fruit of thought.

  10. Estafany says:

    Wow, great post, very informative. I knew that rapists could sue for parental rights but I did not know it was allowed in a number of states. Also I did not know that 32,000 pregnancies resulted from rape each year, that number is extremely high! I agree completely that it shouldn’t take a controversial case to stop this from happening. I believe that just like parents who are on hard drugs revoke their parental rights these rapists have NO RIGHTS to the child or the person they victimized!

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