New details after convicted rapist awarded joint custody of vict - WNEM TV 5

New details after convicted rapist awarded joint custody of victim's son

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Source: (Michigan Department of Corrections) Source: (Michigan Department of Corrections)
SANILAC COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

A Michigan judge has ordered a stay on a controversial decision to grant joint custody to a convicted sex offender.

People across the country were outraged when word spread Judge Gregory Ross granted an accused rapist custody.

The judge granted the Michigan man, convicted of rape, joint custody of his alleged victim's child.

"Everyone told me it would never happen. It would never go through. But here we are and it's happening now," the victim said.

Christopher Mirasolo, of Brown City, was accused of raping the now 21-year-old mother when she was just 12-years-old.

Mirasolo, now 27, was granted parental rights of the victim's 8-year-old son after a DNA test concluded he was the father, according to the victim's attorney, Rebecca Kiessling.

He allegedly held the victim, her sister and a friend "captive" for two days in 2008  -- threatening to kill them if they told anyone what happened, Kiessling told The Detroit News. Mirasolo was 18 at the time.

Police arrested him a month later when the victim discovered she was pregnant. A conviction carries a prison sentence of at least 25 years, but he was given a plea deal for attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct

Mirasolo was then sentenced to one year in jail but only served six and a half months before early release so he could care for his sick mother, according to Kiessling. In 2010, he reportedly served an additional four years for sexual assault against another victim between the ages of 13 and 15.

Kiessling said her client's custody case started after Sanilac County looked into child support she had received this past year.

The Sanilac County Prosecutor's Office released a statement on Tuesday, Oct. 10 that said the victim, now 21, requested financial assistance through the Michigan Department of Human Services in July of 2017.

>>Click here to read the full press release from the Sanilac County Prosecutor's Office<<

As a condition of the financial assistance, the victim was told she was required to cooperate with pursuing paternity and support for her child, the prosecutor's office said. 

"This young woman came to the Sanilac County Prosecutor's Office and completed and signed a paternity questionnaire in which she disclosed the alleged father's name and address. She further signed an agreement to cooperate with pursuing paternity and signed a statement authorizing the disclosure of her address," the press release said. 

Prosecutors said Mirasolo was contacted and given a copy of the complaint for paternity. He spoke with his attorney and returned on Aug. 16 and requested DNA testing, according to the statement. The DNA test confirmed Mirasolo was the biological father of the child. 

The prosecutor's office said Mirasolo signed a standard order that is used in all paternity cases and it was sent to the Friend of the Court on Sept. 21. The order, which prosecutor's said awarded the mother sole physical custody of the child, was signed the next day by the court. 

"While the mother did request that the father not receive visitation, the order stated: 'Parenting time shall be as the parties agree. If they are unable to agree, either party may file a motion.' The order is clear that, if the mother does not want the father to have visitation, she does not have to provide it," the prosecutor's office said. 

According to the press release, the victim's attorney visited the Sanilac County Prosecutor's Office on Sept. 28, after the order was completed by the court. On Oct. 6, she filed a motion with the court to modify the order, the prosecutor's office said. 

Kiessling said she is currently seeking protection for her client, now 21, under the federal Rape Survivor Child Custody Act. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.

Mirasolo's attorney told The Detroit News he did not initiate court proceedings and said he's unsure if he will pursue a relationship with the victim's child.

Ross also ordered Mirasolo’s name to be added to the child’s birth certificate without the mother’s consent, according to the newspaper.

John Nevin, the communications director for the Michigan Supreme Court, said the judge had no reason to believe the mother did not consent to the paternity finding. Once the judge found out the background he stayed the order, Nevin said.

Ross stayed the order on Oct. 10 and scheduled a hearing for Oct. 17 to set the record straight.

"I think that should be the mother's decision that she shouldn't be forced to do that," said Holly April, new mother.

April was outraged at the ruling. She questions the decision because she has had custody hearings before Judge Gregory Ross, the judge assigned to the case.

"I thought he seemed fair and he heard out my side of the story. He seemed like a nice guy to me. He had fair rulings," April said.

Organizations who specialize in helping victims of sexual assault have been outspoken about the case.

"Potentially in this situation, the mother's going to have some contact with someone who perpetrated on her. So ideally she would never want to have contact with him again and here we are having to, you know, having to give your child over to this person who perpetrated against you. Mom might have some really traumatic feelings being in the same room with a perpetrator," said Tracy Kaul, legal advocate for Child and Family Services in Saginaw.

Kaul deals with sexual assault cases every day. She said she feels fro anyone who is forced into a situation like this.

"My heart goes out to the family, especially the survivor in this and her child. And the decisions that she's going to have to face from here on out," Kaul said.

An online petition has garnered thousands of signatures to take away the parental rights of Mirasolo.

The petition calls on the Sanilac County judge and prosecutor's office to change the recent ruling and to alter the way similar cases are ruled in the future.

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