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Could a rapist receive child custody rights?

When a child is born by means of sexual assault, people are forced to re-examine their definition of the terms "mother" and "father." While a rapist may certainly meet the definition of biological father, virtually no one would argue that he shouldn't be allowed to play a role in that child's life. Pennsylvania readers may be shocked to hear that a child custody case in a different state forced a woman to file a paternity matter against the man who raped her when she was only 12 years of age.

The mother, now 21 years old, was not seeking any financial or other support from her child's biological father. She had simply filed for financial assistance through her state Department of Health and Human Services. Part of that process required her to file a paternity and child support action against her child's father.

This led the court to order joint custody and establish the paternity of the father. At the time the ruling was made, the judge in the matter was unaware of the disturbing history between the parties. When he found out, he ended his vacation to return and try to rectify the matter.

The order was suspended, and it is unlikely that this man will ever receive any right to participate in the life of his biological child. However, many people in Pennsylvania and elsewhere believe that this type of case should never be allowed to move forward. Many are asking for a closer look at the policies and procedures that forced this child custody case to move through the system.

Source:, "Judge in child custody case unaware father was rapist", Michael Kransz, Oct. 12, 2017

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