Can You Believe It’s Legal for a Rapist to Acquire Child Custody Rights to a Child Conceived During a Rape?

Raping a person is illegal in all 50 states found in the United States of America. One thing, however, that is not illegal in many states is a rapist requesting child visitation rights to a child that was conceived during a rape. This is absurd! It seems that raping an individual would constitute enough grounds for there to be no further contact with the victim for the remaining of her life. On the contrary, though, if a man rapes a woman and she becomes pregnant, 31 states allow for visitation rights to be granted to the man in the event that he asks for partial custody.

Recently, an Ohio Judge was forced with the decision as to whether or not to allow Ariel Castro to visit with his six-year-old daughter who had been conceived during a rape. The state of Ohio itself is a state that has no laws in effect that would prevent Ariel from acquiring visitation rights; however, due to the 937 counts of criminal offenses that he was being charged with, many of them including rape, the judge denied him of any visitation rights.

Shauna Prewitt, a female who was raped during her senior year of college was “astonished” when she found out that the man who raped her was asking for parental rights. She even went so far as to say that she may not have chosen to have her child if she had known visitation rights would possibly be granted. She could not fathom the thought of being connected for 18 years or more to the man who raped her. While her opinion on the matter in regards to whether or not she would have kept the child has been criticized by many, it is understandable that she would not want to have any type of connection to the man who forced her to have sex with him. In fact, for anyone who has been raped, the same applies.

Prewitt has continued in her life to become a custody rights attorney. She spends her time trying to enact federal guidelines and regulations that would make it completely illegal in all states for a rapist to have any custody rights to a child that was conceived during a rape. In July of 2013, she helped legislation to introduce the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, which in and of itself would terminate all parental and visitation rights to a rapist.

As of 2012, the only states that ban rapists from parental and visitation rights are:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

A study conducted in 1996 concluded there are more than 32,000 pregnancies that occur on a yearly basis as a result of a rape. Although two-thirds of these women chose to abort the conceived child, nearly 33 percent of them chose to follow through with the pregnancy. Following this, some of them chose to give the child up for adoption; however, many of them chose to raise the child.

Many women who are raped have no idea that their attackers have parental rights to a child if they choose to go through with the pregnancy. It is completely unfathomable to them, as well as to most Americans, that rapists have any legal rights whatsoever to a child that was conceived during a rape. Rapists having custodial and visitation rights tops the list of things that are legal yet shouldn’t be.


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One thought on “Can You Believe It’s Legal for a Rapist to Acquire Child Custody Rights to a Child Conceived During a Rape?”

  1. Miles Curtis says:

    Why, if living in Alaska, which is often listed as one of the states that ban rapists from custody or visitation, is my daughter in a custody battle with the convicted rapist? To truly be effective, and give the victim and her child control over there lives, the laws, which are often deceptive need to be worded properly. Most states that appear to offer protection to the victim use the word “may” terminate the rapists rights. Replace the word “may” with “MUST” and you spare the victim years in court, years of dealing with her attacker and most importantly, you take away the rapists ability to continue to control his victim. Best interest of the child? Yeap.

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