Rape & insult: Christopher Mirasolo given joint custody
Rape & insult: Christopher Mirasolo given joint custody
Yesterday saw the internet lighting up with outrage as news of a ruling out of Michigan hit. Gregory Ross, Sanilac County Circuit judge, granted joint legal custody of a nine-year-old boy to Christopher Mirasolo. This happened when a DNA match to Mirasolo was made after the 21-year-old mother filed for support payments for her son.
This, in and of itself, isn’t that unusual. The law recognizes parental rights unless those rights have been terminated. What makes this case unusual is multi-fold. To start, the mother (who has not been identified) is a sexual assault victim. When she was 12, she and her sister slipped out of the house and had the misfortune of encountering Mirasolo. According to the victim, he raped her and she became pregnant. Instead of following her family’s recommendations to either have an abortion or give the child up for adoption, she chose to have the child.
A month after the rape, Mirasolo was arrested. In a plea agreement entered into with the Sanilac County Prosecutor’s Office for attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He served six and a half months for that offense. After being released, he committed another sexual offense. The victim in that crime was also underage. Mirasolo served four years as a result of that crime.
Now, because the original victim asked for state assistance for her son, she is being victimized again. Judge Ross not only ordered Mirasolo listed on the boy’s birth certificate as the father, not only did he grant Mirasolo joint custody of the boy, not only did he require the mother to live no more than 100 miles from the county where the rape occurred, he also revealed the address of the boy and his mother to Mirasolo. Can you imagine what that young woman must be feeling right now?
How is she supposed to explain to her son about the name on his birth certificate? How is she supposed to explain to him that, should Mirasolo decide to take advantage of the court’s ruling, he has to go with him? I don’t know about you, but I’d not only be mad as hell but I’d be scared to death.
Remember, what happened wasn’t an instance where Mirasolo asked for his parental rights to be recognized. According to Mirasolo’s attorney, Barbara Yockey, she doesn’t know what his involvement will be with the boy, or if there will even by any sort of involvement.
“Chris was notified of the paternity matter and an order of filiation was issued last month by the court saying he had joint legal custody and reasonable visitation privileges. He never initiated this. It was something routinely done by the prosecutor’s office when a party makes application for state assistance.”
No matter how you look at it, the mother is being treated worse than Mirasolo is. This 21-year-old woman is being victimized by the state and judiciary.
As for the victim, here’s what she had to say: “I think this is all crazy. They (officials) never explained anything to me. I was receiving about $260 a month in food stamps for me and my son and health insurance for him. I guess they were trying to see how to get some of the money back.”
Is that reason enough to subject this young woman and her son to the torment the court has caused her?
Making matters potentially worse, Assistant Prosecutor Eric Scott claims the victim gave her consent to add Mirasolo’s name to the birth certificate. According to Rebecca Kiessling, the victim’s attorney and herself conceived as the result of a rape, said that isn’t the case. If it is shown Scott lied or in some other way misled the court, this opens a whole new can of worms, not just with regard to this case but with regard to how Scott, and the rest of the prosecutor’s office, handles all such cases. Ms. Kiessling is handling the case pro bono.
Ms. Kiessling also cites the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act as the basis of her argument against the actions taken by the court. My question, and one that will be answered eventually, is whether the judge made his rulings in an attempt to force the victim to file to terminate Mirasolo’s parental rights. As of November 2016, Michigan law allowed “a court to revoke parental rights if there’s clear and convincing evidence that a child was conceived through sexual assault. This law doesn’t apply, however, if the parents lived together and shared custodial duties for the child.” This law puts the burden on the purported victim to prove the assault. In this case, however, that should have been a moot point. Mirasolo pled to a lesser charge. He was also convicted of a subsequent sexual assault.
This may be an attempt by Michigan, either as a state or through the country, to lower instances of welfare fraud. While that is a laudable ambition, you have to apply common sense. If applying for aid means you are consenting to such DNA searches, the ramifications must be explained to the person making application. It may also be a case where the judge is setting up the record to allow the victim to terminate Mirasolo’s rights. It really doesn’t matter. The entire thing was handled in a seriously bad manner. The State bears the burden of not being so inflexible that they lead to situations like this. Here is a man convicted at least twice of sex-related offenses against minors. Now he has the address of one of his victims. I don’t blame her for being worried or scared. The state could go after him for reimbursement of funds without giving him joint custody of the child. Her certainly doesn’t need to know where the mother and child live. He is not the boy’s father. He is, at best, a sperm donor. I’m not even sure he should be named on the birth certificate. Doing so gives an aura of legitimacy to what he did and I, for one, am appalled at the actions the judge took.
In this case, the nanny state went much too far and it needs to make this right without delay. Michigan needs to look at its statutes that allowed this to happen. After decades and more of women being afraid to report rape because they were treated as anything but a victim, this is a huge step backwards. Someone needs to make this right, especially since Mirasolo did not ask for any of the so-called relief granted him by Judge Ross.
Shame on you, Judge. If this had been your daughter and grandson involved, would you have made the same decision?