Incest Victim Shouldn't Have to Share Custody With Father of Her Child

pregnant woman in shadowNo parent looks forward to a custody battle in court, but a Delaware mother is facing a fight that is even more troubling than most. The mom is an incest victim who gave birth to a child after months of alleged sexual abuse. The father? Her own uncle, who has convinced a court that he deserves custodial and parental rights.

If ever there were a case for severing ties between a parent and child, this would be it, don't you think?

The case has made national news because of the difficult conversations it creates, among them whether an alleged rapist should be allowed contact with a child born of rape and what measures should be put in place to protect the child both physically and emotionally. It also opens up the debate over what should happen to the children of incest victims.

The uncle has acknowledged having sex with his niece. But he claims that the sex was consensual -- despite the relationship between him and his niece and despite the fact that she alleged the assaults began when she was 14 and was just 17 when she became pregnant. At the time, the mother, who is now 28, kept the identity of her child's father and the alleged molestation a secret. It was only in 2012 that she opened up to police, stating she'd been too scared as a teenager to come forward (and wouldn't you be?).

The uncle pleaded guilty to an incest charge, but a rape charge was dropped by prosecutors. And the courts have granted him "substantial" custodial and parental rights of the child, who is now 10.

Without a rape conviction, it's certainly harder on the courts to declare the father unfit. But surely even without it, a family court judge can try to put together the jigsaw puzzle and see that things just don't fit.

The mom, who is now 28, got pregnant at 17. Her uncle is the father. And he is now 38.

Folks, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck, right? Well this walks like an inappropriate sexual relationship with an older relative and quacks like one too.

And now we've got a kid in the mix! And the child's best interests need to be examined. 

Let's put aside all the allegations from this woman and her fears that her child might also be molested if the father gets to spend time with her alone (which sound pretty valid but of course are harder to prove without that rape charge).

Does putting an adult male, who was having sex with his teenage niece, who committed incest, in charge of this child's well-being really make sense? The man actually admitted in court that he makes extraordinarily bad choices ... and now we want him to be able to make choices about what happens to a child?

Even without a rape charge, incest is an offense so serious that it should render the perpetrator unfit to parent and thus unable to snag custodial rights. I only hope this poor mom can win her case.

What do you think should happen here? Should "dad" have parental rights?

 

Image via zeeweez/Flickr

child abuse, crime

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the4m... the4mutts

That's terrible! Of course not! What kind of sick fuck would have the balls to ask for visitation after he slept with his own niece? Even if she begged for it, he was the adult, and should have gotten her help. I seriously doubt that she did though. He took advantage of a teenage relative, and should never have contact with that child.

Carme... Carmen8706

I can't believe that anyone would consider a man who raped his niece would NOT be considered a danger to anyone with whom he associates (especially a helpless child)! How much more evidence would someone even need to determine that this man is NOT a fit parent!? He's just going to rape the child!

adamat34 adamat34

There is more to this story that this writer didn't include I'd be willing to bet. These cases are thoroughly investigated including witnesses and statements from family members including the victim I'm not saying this is normal behavior it was abuse on his part, also statutory rape. There is still something not being said.

nonmember avatar Lynnsey

In case you were unaware, there are 31 states where your rapist can sue for various levels of custodial rights.

Jespren Jespren

family law doesn't look at what one parent does to another parent, even a parent convicted of killing the other parent can still get custody, but at a very limited slice of 'what is in the child's best interest'. Since his previous convict, from a legal sense, is post-pubescent incest with a 'willing' partner there probably isn't much a court could legally hold over him to say having a relationship with him isn't in the 'child's best interest'. after all from a legal perspective the mother was also a 'willing' partner in incest. I think we focus on the wrong problem if we focus on family case law here. The real problems are: 1) why is there a statue of limitations on rape and 2) why are prosecutors so reluctant to prosecute statutory rape? After all, if we can say 'it walks like a duck it quacks like a duck' in relation to why he shouldn't get custody, why in the world wouldn't a prosecutor be willing to let 12 people acknowledge it's a duck?? The family law issues here are symptoms of the problem, treating them won't make the actual problems go away. (and, yes, it's utterly obsurd that anyone would let this guy get near a kid!)

shutu... shuturpiehole

Stories like this just make incest and rape victims more likely to have abortions for fear that the rapist will be able to get custody. It also makes the women who choose to continue the pregnancy more likely to flee and hide with her child and to refuse to report the rape or incest for fear the rapist will get access to the child.


 


Our court system continuously FAILS women and children. What a shame.

nonmember avatar Blush

Did you read the article? She went to live with him after she claims the abuse started (he denies it started at the age she says), she allowed him to have visitation with the child, and when she was under investigation from CPS gave him custody for 3 years. She only tried to pursue criminal charges after she decided she wanted her daughter back and he and his wife didn't want to give her up.

nonmember avatar disciple15

I read these articles as a matter of curiousity. It would be unwise to draw any informed conclusion without hearing the other side of the story. There is usually an important piece of the puzzle missing, when both sides are not heard.

nonmember avatar lunamom2

This really bothers me. It hits home with me because I have also had do deal with the repercussions of sexual abuse by an uncle. I have my beautiful daughter because of it, but I also have a very supportive husband. He swooped in and we're planning on having a third child soon. I went to the police last year and nothing was done. But just knowing that there is even the slightest bit of potential for that man to take custody of MY child makes me sick. I got really lucky, I had someone to lean on. But he's still out there living normal life, and he changed mine forever.

Margaret Napolitano

and everyone wonders why women want to keep the right to have an abortion for incest and rape victims. its bad enough she was raped and molested and her mother covered it up. she was brave enough to bring the baby into the world and now she has to fight with the scum bag uncle. there needs to be law for this. i believe i would probably jump off a bridge. there should be no question here his rights should automatically be severed especially if he is a relative of the babies mother  (incest) and if proven rape, then too no rights. these women chose not to have the abortion they are going thru enough trauma to have to go thru that on top of it is down right disgusting. why arent the lawmakers on top of this? this is a big subject esp about getting an abortion. most women would want to get an abortion knowing they would have to look and put up with these men the rest of their lives and possibly have their own child in danger of being molested or raped. pedophiles cant be cured.

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