Thousands of rape victims are fighting against an archaic law that gives their attackers the right to co-parent kids born out of their horrid crimes.
In an outdated loophole in the legal system of several U.S. states, rapists can demand parental access to their victim’s children.
‘It’s America’s dirty secret. It’s something that goes on in family courts all over America,’ rape survivor Analyn Megison, from Florida, told 60 Minutes.
‘This is your beloved child you’re giving to someone who tried to destroy you by raping you and you’re supposed to trust him with your beloved, precious child.’
Rape survivor Analyn Megison, from Florida, has been fighting for 14 years to keep her rapist, who is technically her daughter Allie’s father, out of their lives
Ms Megison has been fighting for 14 years to keep her rapist, who is technically her daughter Allie’s father, out of their lives.
‘I was out with my friends, I remember going home and I was trying to get inside and he suddenly was there. He attacked me and dragged me to the front door of my home,’ she said.
‘I remember screaming… he was just overpowering me.’
Ms Megison said it was a mixture of ‘shock, horror and joy all at the same time’ when she found out she had fallen pregnant.
‘I knew I loved this baby, this is my baby. This is not my rapist’s baby, it is mine,’ she said.
‘I did not think he could or ever would come after her to claim her as his own.
‘There’s nothing scarier than your child going over to your terrorist. Would anyone want to hand over the child in that situation?’
Ms Megison said rapists who claim parental rights do so to claim ‘power and control’.
‘[The courts] started saying that anyone who becomes a father through rape is the same as any other loving biological father.’
Noemi Martinez, 26, is forced to hand over her seven-year-old daughter Isabelle every second weekend to the man who raped her
Ms Gordon hired Rebecca Kiessling (pictured), a lawyer fighting for hundreds of mothers across the US in the same position
After being faced with the prospect of being forced to co-parent with a violent rapist, the law graduate successfully launched a legal battle to change the laws in her home state of Florida.
‘Allie didn’t even know that there was this biological father out there who could do this. She was completely sheltered from it,’ she said.
‘This is your beloved child you’re giving to someone who tried to destroy you by raping you.
‘And you’re supposed to trust them with your precious child, unsupervised, and sanctioned by the courts to do so.’
It’s estimated between 7,000 to 12,000 babies are born from sexual assault every year in America.
In a small town in Nebraska, Noemi Martinez, 26, is forced to hand over her seven-year-old daughter Isabelle every second weekend to the man who raped her.
Ms Martinez was just 18 when her colleague Timothy Melcher raped her while they worked at a local fast food outlet.
After finding out she was pregnant, Ms Martinez claimed Melcher told her to punch herself in the stomach to get rid of the baby.
But Ms Martinez said she never imagined her attacker would demand parental rights after being released from prison, nor did she think the law would allow it.
US states without laws preventing a rapist from claiming parental rights
‘There was no other choice. I had to be strong and do this, because I couldn’t be scaring my daughter,’ she said.
‘She tells us that she;s forced to call him ‘daddy’ and call his mum ‘grandma’. She doesn’t understand why she has to do it.
Sexual assault victim Tiffany Gordon was just 12 when she was abducted and raped by an older man who got her pregnant.
Then nine years later, a judge granted Ms Gordon’s rapist, Christopher Mirasol, parental rights over her son, in what made national headlines.
‘I was scared. I just wanted to take my son and just run away where he couldn’t find us,’ Ms Gordon said.
‘Everybody for nine years told me it will never happen… and then nine years later the nightmare was coming back.’
Ms Gordon hired Rebecca Kiessling, a lawyer fighting for hundreds of mothers across the US in the same position.
‘It’s really horrifying, and they deserve to be protected. We have to get these laws changed,’ Ms Kiessling said.
Ms Kiessling, who was born out of rape, said no rapist is fit to be a father.
‘I don’t think a man who rapes someone is suitable to be a parent. I think that disqualifies them automatically,’ she said.
‘And I can tell you as someone who was conceived from rape, I would not want to have anything to do with the man who raped my mother.’
Laws in the US are gradually changing state-by-state, including in Michigan, where Ms Gordon became the first rape victim to successfully terminate the parental rights of her abuser.
North Dakota, Maryland, Mississippi, Alabama, New Mexico, Wyoming and Minnesota don’t have any laws preventing a rapist from claiming parental rights.
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