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October 23, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

One of the larger whoop-di-doos of the past couple of weeks is a case in Michigan. A judge granted parental rights to a man named Christopher Mirasolo who’d fathered a child who is now eight years old. What’s the problem with that? Well, the child’s mother was just 12 years old when the child was conceived. In short, Mirasolo is a statutory rapist, a fact unknown to the Sanilac County judge who approved his request for parental rights. Taking notice of the above-mentioned whoop-di-doo, the judge changed his mind and rescinded the order.

Many people are pleased with that outcome, but, as is so often the case, there are plenty of issues so far left unresolved. And it doesn’t look like the bill filed by State Representative Pam Faris will do a lot to resolve them (Detroit Free Press, 10/21/17).

Most obviously, her bill, had it been law at the time the judge made his original decision, wouldn’t have changed it in the least. That’s because the bill would deny to anyone convicted of rape or sexual assault that produces a child parental rights to that child. The problem being that Mirasolo was never convicted of any of the crimes to which Faris’s bill would apply. In fact, he wasn’t convicted of anything. He pled guilty to a third-degree offense that’s nowhere included in HB 5132.

More importantly, the bill clearly includes statutory rape by a woman of a boy. That of course is something none of the articles written on the Mirasolo matter thought to mention. While everyone is outraged that Mirasolo had sex with a girl of 12, the same happens with boys of that age and few people bat an eye. And sometimes those offending teachers, babysitters, etc. become pregnant by their underage paramours. Should mothers lose their parental rights in those cases? Faris’s bill says they would.

Plus, it says that the obligation to pay child support would continue. Are we sure we want to decouple the obligation to pay support from the right to be a parent? Obviously, that’s a slippery slope down which many questionable issues, not contemplated but still real, could crop up. Should stepparents be required to pay child support for children they haven’t adopted? Why not anyone who’s taken any sort of care of a child for however short a period of time? Why not a biological parent who’s had his/her parental rights terminated?

Then there’s the problem of what constitutes a sexual offense. For a long time now, we’ve watched feminist organizations doing all they can to expand the definition of rape and sexual assault. They haven’t been terribly successful so far except on college campuses, but few believe they’ll stop trying. And at the same time they’re fighting on that front, they’re trying to convince legislatures to make it easier to convict men of those crimes. The invariable point is to diminish the due process of law accorded the accused. Most recently in Canada, feminists are trying to limit the admissibility of exculpatory evidence available to an accused man.

So those efforts by feminists, together with bills like Faris’s must be viewed as not only what they are, but also efforts to further reduce men’s parental rights. The cry that no rapist should have parental rights has appeal as long as we think of people like Mirasolo having sex with a child or a stranger with a knife forcing himself on a woman. But we can’t forget that the definitions of rape and sexual assault extend far more broadly than that, and that far more than simply punishing abusers is at stake in a debate that the press has so far chosen to present in its most simplistic light.

 

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National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

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#sexualassault, #rape, #parentalrights, #childsupport

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