By ERIN FUCHS
A Massachusetts woman is suing the state to stop her rapist from seeking visitation with the child conceived when he raped her as a 14-year-old, Courthouse News reports.
Her convicted rapist, Jaime Melendez, expressed no interest in the child until a judge ordered him to pay $110 a week in support, her complaint says. Melendez then filed a petition with a family court saying he should get visitation rights if he has to pay child support, ABC News previously reported.
The rape victim, identified as H.T. by Courthouse News, asked a judge to force Melendez to pay criminal restitution instead of child support — that way he wouldn’t be able to seek visitation. But a judge rejected her request, meaning she’ll have to fight Melendez’s request for visitation in family court.
Unless the state steps in, H.T. “will be forced by the state to spend substantial time and resources in unwanted litigation with the man who raped her,” her complaint says.
Melendez, now 25, pleaded guilty to rape in 2011 and got 16 years probation. Melendez allegedly went to H.T.’s house when he knew her mother wasn’t there and pressured her to have sex, ABC reported. H.T. says she felt threatened by him. Later on, she was terrified that the child she conceived that night would get to visit with her rapist.
“My client is very worried she’ll have to send her daughter off to this man she doesn’t know, and tell her she’ll be going off on visits with the man who raped her mother and created her. We’re fiercely fighting against concept of even being in Family Court,” her lawyer Wendy Murphy told ABC.
As strange as it sounds, it’s currently legal in Massachusetts for men to seek custody of the children they father during rapes. The Melendez case, however, has spurred state lawmakers to introduce bills that would make it illegal for them to do so, the Patriot-Ledger reported.