A 12-year-old girl became pregnant after she was raped and kidnapped by a 19-year-old man, Christopher Mirasolo, in September 2008.
As previously reported by Dearly, a judge in Sanilac County, Michigan, recently granted Mirasolo, 27, joint legal custody of the 8-year-old boy he fathered with his rape victim.
The boy's mother, a woman named Tiffany, recently shared her story with “CBS This Morning” but asked not to reveal her full name.
According to The Detroit News, the custody hearing was part of a routine process after Tiffany submitted for financial assistance. The county had asked Tiffany about whether she was receiving child support. She was asked to identify her child's father.
Tiffany explained to CBS:
“I was receiving government assistance, and they told me if I did not tell them who the father was of my child, that they would take that away from me.”
After a paternity test proved Mirasolo was the father, he was granted legal custody, asked to pay child support, and given the opportunity to request parental time.
In an email to USA Today, Bob Wheaton, a spokesman for Michigan Health and Human Services, wrote that Tiffany would have needed to provide a valid reason not to pursue child support:
“The department would need to be notified by the custodial parent of any reason to determine good cause not to pursue a child support order.”
However, Tiffany's lawyer, Rebecca Kiessling, argued that the forms Tiffany filed didn't have an allocated space for parents to submit their concerns.
Kiessling told CBS that she's seen many cases like this where sexual assault victims lose financial aid because they don't want to report the father or don't know who the father is:
“There's no policy. I've had rape victims who were cut off from state aid because they couldn't name the rapist because they were abducted by a stranger or because a sex trafficker kidnapped them and raped them.”
Tiffany knew who the father was, but she told CBS that Mirasolo threatened to kill her and her friend when he raped her in an abandoned house. She said she's been taking care of her son alone since she became pregnant:
“I have been taking care of him for eight years. I gave up high school, I gave up prom, I gave up my friends to raise a baby and go to work.”
In 2008, Mirasolo took a plea deal and was convicted of third-degree sexual conduct for his assault against her. He served six-and-a-half months in prison for his crimes.
Then, in 2010, he was convicted of raping another child between the ages of 13 and 15. He served four years for his second sexual assault conviction.
The Detroit News reports that Mirasolo hasn't shown interest in sharing custody of the child. Judge Gregory S. Ross has since issued a hold on his September 22 decision to grant Mirasolo joint legal custody.
A Michigan Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed to The Detroit News that Ross was not aware of the two sexual conduct convictions before he issued his ruling.
Kiessling told CBS that she's been working with Mirasolo's lawyer to come up with a deal. She hopes to settle out of court and continue to fight for rape victims across the country.
Tiffany told CBS that she thought the county's decision was “crazy.” She hopes to share her story to protect other rape survivors from enduring the same process:
“I don't understand why they thought they needed to give him joint legal custody. He was my rapist.”
Watch the full interview, via “CBS This Morning,” below.