May 22, 2017
BOSTON- Last week, Senator Sal DiDomenico testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of his bill that would deny parental rights to the perpetrators of rape. According to current Massachusetts General Law, a person convicted of rape may be allowed visitation with the child conceived through that rape if a judge determines it is in the best interest of the child.
This provision in the law has led to situations in which survivors of sexual assault are forced into going to family court to fight child visitation requests made by their attacker. Under the proposed legislation, the courts would be barred from establishing custody, visitation, or any other parental rights in favor of the perpetrator of the rape.
“This provision in the law provides an opportunity for an assailant to threaten, manipulate, and harass his victim and child, subjecting them to a life of fear,” said Senator DiDomenico in his testimony. “No survivor of sexual assault or her child should have to endure this re-victimization, and Massachusetts statue must provide necessary protections for these women. This bill is one of my top priorities this session, and I look forward to continue working with my colleagues in the Legislature and advocacy groups to move this legislation forward.”
The bill filed by Senator DiDomenico (S.832) would end the possibility of custody or visitation by stripping the parental rights of anyone who was convicted of or found by clear and convincing evidence to have fathered a child as a result of rape. The bill would not impede on a court’s ability to order a perpetrator to pay child support.
Senate President Stan Rosenberg recently asked the Judiciary Committee to fast-track Senator DiDomenico’s bill, after learning about a recent case in which the Massachusetts Court of Appeals denied a young woman’s petition to dismiss a paternity ruling for a man who was convicted of raping and impregnating her in 2009. Senator DiDomenico bill currently pending before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.