April 13, 2017 Top Story

Court Affirms Parental Rights of Statutory Rapist

Statutory rapist can continue to seek visitation with child

Erin Louise Palmer

A state high court affirmed a judgment of paternity in a statutory rape case, rejecting the mother's argument that the lower court had "no authority" to adjudicate the parental rights of a father whose child was conceived by statutory rape. H.T. v. J.M. According to the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, terminating the father's parental rights "would unfairly disadvantage the child by depriving her of the right to receive financial support from both parents." ABA Section of Litigation leaders believe the decision is contrary to a majority of other state laws or decisions and opens the door to continuous harassment of rape victims by their rapists.

Statutory Rape Victim Seeks to Limit Father's Parental Rights

The mother was 14 years old and the father was 19 years old when they engaged in sexual intercourse resulting in the birth of a child. The father pled guilty to four counts of statutory rape in Superior Court (criminal court). The criminal court sentenced him to 16 years of probation conditioned on his agreement to acknowledge paternity and abide by any orders issued by the Probate and Family Court (family court) regarding child support.

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