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Does a Rapist of Parental Rights?

Updated on May 11, 2013

The question is about whether a rapist who fathers a child from his victim has parental rights. While may seem the answer is obvious both legal and ethically and morally, 75% of the states in America have no case law about this issue.

Despite the violence in the crime of rape, the outcome is quite the opposite- an innocent, beautiful, loving baby who knows absolutely nothing except what it will learn from seeing and listening to others. The baby, while not out of love, is loved unless the mother simply cannot handle the situation. The father rapist, if caught, is in jail. Does the mother tell the child who the father is? Should the father have any parental rights to him for supervised visitation? Does the innocent child need to be told? Would it make any difference?

The issue has come up in the Ariel Castro case. He kidnapped three teens, raped one or two, and has a school aged girl from the rape. Ariel, himself, has adult daughter, who up until recently loved her dad but now calls him demonic, sick.

The other issue is kidnapping. The DA in the Castro case has charged with four counts of kidnapping. Three for the teens he did kidnap by force and the fourth for his young daughter resulting from the rape five years ago. How can Ariel be charged with kidnapping her when she was simply born and lived in the house. There was no forceful taking of her as in the other three. The girl lived there and it was the only place she knew as home. Of course, none of them has free will to leave, which is an element of kidnapping, but all elements must be present for kidnapping.

Currently, 31 states allow rapists some parental rights in visitation or custody once released from jail. Some force the rapist to pay child support. Not all women keep the baby but 50% do despite the pain of the event. Rapists can go to court and fight for custody\visitation rights.

One of approximately 32,000 women who become pregnant in the United States as a result of rape each year. Many others terminate the pregnancy. Others place the child up for adoption. In once case, a 14-year-old girl, decided to give up her baby for adoption. She was required by law to give notice of the adoption to the rapist, an adult man. While she was permitted by a court to give up her rights to the child, the rapist retained his and then sought child support payments from her. Parental rights are all tied to the biological connection.

Some courts will deny a rapist to any parental rights initially, but as the years go by and the child becomes older, if the rapist has not had further criminal acts, they tend to allow the father to some visitation or custody, if the older child is fine with it. Because there are so many nuances to each situation, many states are at a loss what to do because the situation evolves over time.

In a sense, it is similar to a woman having artificial insemination with a donor sperm, except, there is no violence. The result is a baby that has genetic links to a man and his side of the family. As the baby becomes older questions arise from them. What if the donor locates the child and seeks visitation and custody? It has happened. Once paternity is established, the donor will get the rights.

It is an unresolved issue.


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      5 years ago from California

      With sperm donors there can be lots of children seeking to know the same dad. The first of the artificial insemination babies are becoming adults. They are not happy that they don't have a father. The court system had never had the best interest of a child in mind.


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