Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Don't Know What To Think...

A couple people, including my #1 blogdaughter, sent in this story, purporting it to be yet another instance of a lenient MA justice system. After reading the story, I'm not so sure...

Rapist seeking visitation with child he fathered after attack on teen victim
A Massachusetts man is seeking visitation rights to the child he fathered after raping a 14-year-old girl, setting the stage for a legal battle in the Bay State.
The teen mother was raped by the 20-year-old family friend three years ago and says she still suffers from severe anxiety and depression. She says she is terrified at the prospect of having any dealings with her tormentor, reports
I would assume from the use of the words "attack" and "tormentor" that this was a forcible rape - however, the man pled guilty to statutory rape. Now, this is a 14 year old kid, which is bad - but at the time he was 17, so both were underage. If the act was not consensual, why was he offered a plea bargain for statutory that included child support? 16 years probation - zero actual jail time - doesn't sound like a sentence for a forcible rape to me, but then again, nothing that happens in the MA criminal "justice" system makes much sense...

It's also pretty hard to believe that a judge would order the young man to pay child support in a case of forcible rape. Making him pay support opens the door to visitation, seeing his victim, etc. - I know judges in Massachusetts seem pro-criminal sometimes, but this would be beyond the pale even for Mass. If this is in fact the case, I hope the judge is removed from the bench post haste - it's frightening that we could have someone this pro-criminal actually trying cases.

This will be an interesting one to follow, to be sure...

That is all.


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Sounds like the judge and prosecutor were trying to do the right thing and screwed it up.

The problem is that - in most states, and I assume MA is similar - "restitution", which would not have opened the door for visitation claims, doesn't allow for continuous payments, or for the same enforcement and garnishment options as "child support". It also doesn't allow for future adjustments based on cost of living changes.

The judge probably wanted to ensure that the money was earmarked for the child, could be taken by garnishment if he didn't cooperate, and would be spread out over the child's lifetime and could be increased if needed. Unfortunately, I'd bet that the law doesn't allow that without also allowing him to petition for visitation, custody, reduction of support payments, etc.

This actually sounds like a case where "there oughta be a law" might legitimately apply, but it would have to be very carefully drafted and probably either allow judicial discretion or require the victim to request it.

Dave H said...

I believe civil judgement payments can be scheduled out over a period of time. (I see offers to buy out structured settlements all the time on TV. Well, I didn when I still watched TV.) Can court ordered restitution be done the same way? If it can, that could have allowed for it to be spread out over the usual support payment period (18 years, say) without enabling the paternal rights that usually go with a support order.

Actually, I don't even see a criminal court ordering child support. That's a family court (or whatever it's called in other jurisdictions) matter. I wonder if the victim sued the perp for support and is now finding out that he gets certain rights along with it?

Dave H said...

Oops, I should have read first. The paternity finding was a condition of the plea bargain. It sounds to me like the criminal court judge who approved the deal was trying to DTRT, but didn't anticipate the consequences.

Wow, that sounds familiar.

Ed said...

If they were both minors on the date of intercourse and both were unable to legally consent, why was she not also tried for statutory rape? This appears to be selective prosecution.

If he was 14 years old and she was 17 years old on the date of intercourse, would it be any different?

Was there a plea bargain to spare the female from Massachusetts in-court questions as to whether she led "a chaste life", which would be a valid defense strategy under the Massachusetts statute where he was charged and her not charged?

See the the variation in the age of consent among various cultures in North America, especially the Massachusetts variant:

Roger said...

Has anyone ever heard of rule .308?
It appears that it should apply in this case.

LawDog said...

"Now, this is a 14 year old kid, which is bad - but at the time he was 17,"

Incorrect. According to the video accompanying the story, the rapist was 20 at the time of the assault; the victim 14.

Sabra said...

I'm sure it varies by state, but in Texas (and many other states) child support and visitation are NOT connected with one another. This is so that visitation cannot be denied if the noncustodial parent is legitimately unable to pay. (I spent a large portion of 2010 biting the hell out of my tongue while turning the kids over for visitation.) Of course, I have no clue how MA is set up, but I do know at least one woman in your state whose ex takes visitation in spite of being way behind on C.S., so it wouldn't surprise me if there was a similar setup there.

Rape is one hell of a hard thing to prove in court. There was a case in Australia not too long ago where a man was acquitted because his victim was wearing tight pants, and the defense was that she'd have had to help him get them off. Similar things have happened in the US as well. Even when the evidence is clear, the victim is going to have her character assassinated. A conviction is far from a sure thing even under ideal circumstances, and I can see a plea bargain being offered to ensure there is some sort of punishment while sparing a VERY young victim further mental anguish.

Geodkyt said...

More intersting is the fact of what he was charged with, not what the plea agreement ended up with.

The section he was apparantly originally charged under was the one they use for sexual intercourse that is illegal solely due to one party being below the age of consent.

He was never apparantly even charged under the section that would apply if force, intoxication, or threats had been used on a minor. Nor the section that would apply if he was considered to be in any kind of position of responsibility over her. So, the prosecutors didn't even think it was a forcible rape (and I include threats and taking advantage of someone incapacitated by chemicals or health issues as "forcible"), but was rather a case of an adult sleazebag who talked a adolescent girl into bed - but that she went willingly, and had she been of age of consent it wouldn't be a crime at all.

Yes, he apparantly did tell her afterwards that she would be the target of social and familial disapproval and ostracism if she ratted him out, but while that magnifies his shitbaggery and makes him more of an object of my violently hateful contempt, it has nothing to do with whether he committed a forcible rape, or if he committed an act that is designated rape solely because she wasn't 16 years old.

bogie said...

What someone pleads to has very little to do with what actually happened. If the victim was not willing to testify becasue she was terrified, or mentally unable to handle the proceedings, the only thing they may have been left with is statutory rape (which could be proved by DNA testing and didn't require her testimony).

She may not even have reported the attack - it only became evident because of her pregnancy in which her parents may have pressed charges - once again proveable by DNA testing.

remi said...

Jesus, that poor victim. This must be incredibly triggering for her. She's still suffering from PTSD from the rape, this must be hell for her.

Geodkyt said...


Go back and re-read what I wrote.

I stated that I was not addressing what he plea bargained, but what he was originally charged with.

That would be the maximum offence the prosecutor thought he had a case for -- which is the charge that, in Massachusettes, is used for a case where the ONLY reason it is illegal is age of consent. No force, threats, abuse of authority, drugs, etc.

The guy agreed to a plea bargain for quite less than that which the prosecutor would have gotten had he won a SINGLE count of the original charge. Which is kinda the point of accepting a plea bargain.

But he was NEVER charged with something that would be a sex crime if the girl had been of the age of consent. PERIOD.

bogie said...


I was not addressing you, I was addressing the original post.

Additionally, even if I had been responding to your comment, the original premis would have been valid - if the girl never said anything, and would not say anything (regardless of whether it was in fear or because it was consential), the only thing they could have proven was statutory rape, exactly what the guy was charged with.