A MA man who admitted to raping a 14-year-old now wants the right to be involved with the child born after the crime.
Jamie Melendez filed a petition for visitation rights after the judge hearing his criminal case remanded him to Family Court, which ordered him to pay child support. Melendez claims that would be unjust if he were denied visitation.
The victim’s attorney is now trying to get that judge to reverse this insensitive decision and instead rule that Melendez pay criminal restitution fees to cover child support. She also wants the MA Supreme Court to decide whether a Criminal Court judge can “create a Family Court case out of rape.”
A rape victim should be the only one deciding if or when a rapist has rights to see the child born of that crime. She should never be forced to send her child off with a man who criminally assaulted her, and it’s absurd for any judge to even consider putting her in that position.
Tell Massachusetts: Don't Give Rapists Child Visitation Rights!
We, the undersigned, find the judge’s ruling in this case irresponsible, insensitive and potentially harmful to the victim and her child, and the Supreme Court should put an end to any ruling that further victimizes rape victims.
In this case the victim’s attorney, Wendy Murphy, has voiced her outrage at the criminal court judge’s order to send a rapist to Family Court and pay child support, adding that this action “in a sense decriminalizes the behavior, or frames it other than a serious crime.”
Legal Voice.org has also noted its concern over this issue of giving parental rights to rapists, particularly for women receiving public assistance.
The direction New Mexico is heading, proposing mothers applying for childcare assistance prove they were “forcibly” raped or else leaving them to seek support from their assaulters, appears to be the mindset associated with this MA judge’s ruling.
Legal Voice points out that no reasonable person would ever expect victims of rape who decide to keep the child to have to deal with their assaulter over visitation rights.
And, as Murphy pointed out, the judge could just as easily have ordered Melendez to pay restitution - in case there were concerns about financial burden to the state over child support.
Though still having legal issues, Melendez was young when he committed the rape, and he could possibly be or become a good father and reform his behavior. Nevertheless, his victim is the only one who can decided whether she feels comfortable with her assaulter being involved in their minor child’s life, and she is the only one who should decide to allow or disallow it.
No judge or anyone else has the right to force victims of rape into such stressful and potentially harmful circumstances. It is morally wrong and should be illegal to do so.
We agree with attorney Murphy that the Supreme Court should make a decision on this issue, and we request that it decide in favor of rape victims, not their assaulters.
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