Rape & insult: Christopher Mirasolo given joint custody

by Amanda Green on October 9, 2017

Christopher Mirasolo (Image: Michigan Department of Corrections)

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?

Rebecca Kiessling (Image: Facebook)

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?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Drew458 October 9, 2017 at 9:50 am

Her lawyer must have known that one of the aspects of a support order would be establishing a vector to the victim, unless the support check got sent to a PO box or the lawyer’s office or something.

What the state did is asinine, I agree. But I don’t think the benefit was worth the risk. And why didn’t her lawyer argue the RSCCA right there in court, even if not by name? “Yer honor, this is a case of a rape victim seeking child support from her assailant who inseminated her, and she has no desire to create a family unit or to seek shared paternal duties with this criminal.” kind of thing. I haven’t read that 2016 law you mentioned, but did the authors of it foolishly grandfather exceptions for older cases into it? How could they be that stupid? That wouldn’t make sense either, but the passing of that law seems to be the only clear reason for this woman to bring this legal action against her attacker now. I also wonder if this is the first test case of that new law?

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Amanda Green October 9, 2017 at 10:26 am

The support was state support — food stamps and insurance for the child — not child support. As for why her attorney didn’t argue the exceptions, that’s simple. The attorney, nor the victim, knew what was going on until after the fact from what I can tell. This was something instituted by the state. With regard for exceptions to the law, I’m not sure. A number of laws do have grandfather clauses in them and this might be one.

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grayswindir October 10, 2017 at 8:24 am

Attorney should have known that the state routinely goes after the father for support when a woman files for assistance.
It’s why many male statutory rape victims end up paying child support. The mother of the child files for state support, to get it she has to name the father, the state than files against the father and garnishes wages etc. to offset what they’re paying in state support (or, if the dad’s well-off enough to make him shoulder the entire cost).

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Nina October 9, 2017 at 11:25 am

The fact that the state used her needing state support (welfare) and ran with it to go find the ‘donor’ even KNOWING he is only the ‘donor’ because he raped that poor girl makes this all the more heinous!

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Amanda Green October 9, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Agreed. I simply can’t imagine the horror she must have felt upon learning this man — and I use that term very lightly — not only suddenly had his name on her son’s birth certificate but also knew where they lived.

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grayswindir October 10, 2017 at 8:25 am

The father is never the ‘donor’ to the state. (Donors only apply to medically supervised artificial inseminations)
He’s a ‘dead-beat’ dad who needs to cough up for the child he fathered.

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Drew458 October 9, 2017 at 6:52 pm

It does sound like something much uglier than just a judiciary process screw-up. It seems purposefully nasty. Punish the victim? In this day and age? I think that judge and all the people involved on his behalf, especially the assistant prosecutor should be examined under the microscope. Heads should roll.

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Amanda Green October 9, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Agreed. The voters should also be looking long and hard at the state legislators who aren’t doing everything possible to protect women like the victim in this case.

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PeteEE October 10, 2017 at 1:57 am

I can’t imagine a judge believing this is a good idea.
I wonder if this is one of those minimum sentence situations. Maybe he is protesting a law by giving an outrageous verdict.

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Vinny October 10, 2017 at 7:36 am

The Natural result of having an overbearing government in your life.

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grayswindir October 10, 2017 at 8:28 am

Here is why this happened:

1. When a woman files for support for a child, she must list the father. If she doesn’t, no state aid.
2. The state wants the fathers name so they can go after him for support. Garnish wages etc.
3. This even happens to male victims of statutory rape. If the woman files for state support, she has to list the father, the state than goes after the father for support to defray/eliminate costs to the state– even if the father was himself a rape victim.

A solution for this woman might be to see if the rapist will give up all paternal rights, not sure how that will affect her getting state assistance though.

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Bill October 10, 2017 at 8:45 am

I’ve known this judge since we were children. I was shocked when I read this story and can only assume he felt he was bound by the law to rule this way. He’s a pretty conservative/level headed fellow normally.

*Minor correction to story – he’s the District/Probate Court Judge in Sanilac County not the Circuit court judge.

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