Repeat rapist given joint custody of victim’s son
SANDUSKY, Michigan, October 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A county judge granted joint legal custody and parenting time to a rapist who impregnated a child’s mother.
Circuit Court Judge Gregory S. Ross gave Christopher Mirasolo joint legal custody over the child he conceived by raping Tiffany (last name withheld). Ross also informed the rapist of his victim’s home address. Her lawyer says she has even been commanded not to move more than 100 miles without prior consent of the court.
“Parenting time shall be as the parties agree,” Ross’ order decreed. “If they are unable to agree, either party may file a motion.”
The judge’s orders went into effect without Tiffany’s consent, according to her attorney, Rebecca Kiessling. She says Tiffany wasn’t even allowed an opportunity to be heard.
“This is outrageous and unacceptable,” Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley posted on Facebook. “I will begin work immediately on remedies.”
In 2008, then-19-year-old Mirasolo forcibly raped and then threatened to kill 12-year-old Tiffany, who subsequently gave birth to a son. The boy is now eight.
“I have been taking care of him for eight years,” Tiffany said. “I gave up high school, I gave up prom, I gave up my friends to raise a baby and go to work.”
State law gives a mandatory sentence to men over 17 who rape children under 13 of at least 25 years to life in prison, but Sanilac County Prosecutor James V. Young reduced the charge against Mirasolo in a plea bargain to one year in jail. He only served 6 1/2 months.
Once free, Mirasolo sexually assaulted another girl who was 15. “He should have been in prison when (this second woman) was raped,” Kiessling charged. “It is the prosecutor’s fault that she was raped.” Mirasolo was convicted and served four years in prison for the second rape.
In July, Tiffany reapplied for state assistance, but to do so the state required her to prove paternity and seek child support.
She named her rapist, and the twice-convicted sex offender agreed to a DNA test to prove he was the father. He is.
The purpose of the DNA test was to force Mirasolo to pay child support, and he was ordered to pay $346 a month plus health insurance. But Judge Ross then took the inexplicable step of giving the rapist parental rights.
Young defended his office, saying physical custody was always with Tiffany but visitation rights were negotiable. Young said Tiffany freely filled out the paternity papers that included her address.
But Tiffany has a different story. “I was receiving government assistance and they told me if I did not tell them who the father was that they would take that away from me,” she said.
Tiffany originally wanted state aid, not child support. The state required her to apply for child support as a condition of getting financial help. But a state-published guide for such cases specifically states, “You are eligible to claim good cause for not cooperating to get child support when there is danger of physical or emotional harm to you or your child.”
“They never explained anything to me, Tiffany told WPXI News. “I was receiving about $260 a month in food stamps for me and my son, and health insurance for him. I guess they were trying to see how to get some of the money back.” Kiessling confirmed that her client had nowhere on the paternity forms or the state assistance forms to put down her concerns.
“I don’t understand why they thought they needed to give him joint legal custody,” Tiffany cried. “He was my rapist!”
Reeling from the judge’s ruling, Tiffany sought out Right to Life of Michigan because they support victims of rape. The pro-life organization is paying Tiffany’s court costs.
Kiessling, who is representing Tiffany pro bono, filed a motion to amend Judge Ross’ September order. The pro-life champion, who herself was conceived in rape, is co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception and president of Save the 1.
After international public outcry, on Tuesday morning Judge Ross stayed his own order and set a hearing for October 17, ordering all parties to appear in court.
Mirasolo’s attorney, Barbara Yockey, at first said she didn’t know if her client wanted a relationship with his son. Kiessling said that when the order was first issued, Yockey had Mirasolo’s cousin contact Tiffany to set up a visit. After the outcry, however, Yockey assured the public that her client did not ask for and is not seeking visitation rights. “He’s not going to attempt to see the child, no,” she said.
But Kiessling said the idea of visitation rights for a rapist should never be considered. She said Tiffany’s plight is why parental rights for rapists should be terminated.
“A rape victim should not have to be tethered to her rapist for 18 years,” the pro-life attorney said. “She and the child deserve to be fully protected from her rapist.”
Finally, on Wednesday, Child Protective Services filed a petition to terminate Mirasolo’s parental rights. They also got an ex parte order denying visititation.
Kiessling said many rapists use visitation rights to re-victimize. “We’ve had several women in our organization conceived in rape, and their biological rapist fathers used visits to molest them,” she testified.
On Thursday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette took the rare step of filing an emergency motion to intervene in the case. “That’s an extraordinary step,” Kiessling commented, “but this case is so egregious that they felt they had to intervene.”
Kiessling called this the first time Michigan’s Rape Survivor Child Custody Act is invoked.
The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act was initiated in the U.S. Congress to incentivise states to pass laws requiring only the “clear and convincing evidence standard” and not requiring a criminal rape conviction to determine child custody. Michigan passed the law and Gov. Rick Snyder signed it in 2016.
The current situation for aid to mothers who were raped is untenable. “There’s no policy,” Kiessling protested. “I’ve had rape victims who were cut off from state aid because they couldn’t name their rapist because they were abducted by a stranger, or because a sex trafficker kidnapped them and raped them.”
When Tiffany was 12, she and her 13-year-old sister snuck out of the house barefooted to meet a girlfriend. Mirasolo, 19 at the time, drove by and recognized one of them as a past acquaintance.
Mirasolo asked the girls if they wanted to go for a ride, and they said yes, assuming they were going to a nearby fast food drive-thru. “Instead, he tossed their cellphones away, drove to Detroit, where he stole gas from a station, and then drove back to Sanilac County, where he kept them captive for two days in a vacant house,” Kiessling explained.
After he got out of jail for raping Tiffany, Mirasolo took his other known victim, a 15-year-old girl, to the same vacant house, which is a vacation home adjacent to Mirasolo’s father’s property. It is unknown if or how many other times Mirasolo used the vacant house.
“I was kidnapped for two days,” Tiffany shared. “I didn’t know if I was ever going to go home. He threatened to kill me and my best friend if we told anyone.” She said she has “flashbacks” about “horrible things” from the rape.
Young’s office said it would conduct an internal review to determine any needed changes in the way they handle such cases.
“This case is the first of its kind in Michigan and perhaps in the nation,” Calley posted. “We need to make sure that it is also the last of its kind — and that the decision is overturned.”
A victims’ rights rally is planned outside the Sanilac County Courthouse, 60 Sanilac Road, in Sandusky at noon October 17. Save the 1 and Sanilac County Right to Life are co-sponsoring the rally, along with other victims’ rights organizations.