Schuette seeks to void parental rights of sex of­fender

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY MIKE MARTIN­DALE The Detroit News

San­dusky — Michi­gan At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bill Schuette filed le­gal mo­tions late Thurs­day to in­ter­vene in a con­tro­ver­sial joint cus­tody case in which a twice­con­victed rapist was granted parental rights to a child born from a 2008 sex­ual as­sault.

The case, which has drawn crit­i­cism and in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion, is set for a hear­ing Tues­day be­fore Sani­lac County Pro­bate Judge Gre­gory Ross. On Wed­nes­day, Ross stayed his rul­ing giv­ing par­tial cus­tody to Christo­pher Mi­ra­solo un­til he has heard ob­jec­tions from the vic­tim’s at­tor­ney, Re­becca Kiessling.

In a copy re­viewed by The Detroit News, Schuette’s of­fice asks that Ross’ rul­ing grant­ing parental rights and joint cus­tody be dis­missed.

“The peo­ple of this State have a com­pelling in­ter­est in see­ing that sur­vivors of sex­ual as­sault who con­ceive a child as a re­sult of that as­sault may raise that child with­out the fear of hav­ing to share cus­tody with the per­son who as­saulted them; with­out the dread of dis­clos­ing per­sonal de­tails of their and their child’s life with the per­son who vic­tim­ized them; and with­out hav­ing to re­live the as­sault again and again,” said the mo­tion, filed by Laura Moody, an as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral.

The fil­ing de­tails how the vic­tim, now 21, was 12 when she was as­saulted by Mi­ra­solo, then 18, of Brown City. She later gave birth to a boy, now 8, who has never had any con­tact with Mi­ra­solo. Mi­ra­solo pleaded guilty to a lesser sex­ual of­fense and served 61⁄

2 months in the county jail.

Mi­ra­solo, 27, who has de­clined to be in­ter­viewed by The News, never sought parental rights but was de­ter­mined to be the bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther of the child this sum­mer af­ter the boy’s mother signed a pa­ter­nity com­plaint, fear­ing her fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance of food stamps would be taken away.

Fol­low­ing news re­ports of Ross’ ac­tion, the judge has been the tar­get of crit­i­cism, in­clud­ing pe­ti­tions seek­ing to over­turn his de­ci­sion and re­call him from of­fice. A sup­port rally for the vic­tim is planned for noon Tues­day on the court­house lawn.

More than 100 peo­ple have in­di­cated on a web­site they will at­tend the event, which will fea­ture speak­ers in­clud­ing the wo­man and an­other vic­tim who was 14 when she was sex­u­ally as­saulted by Mi­ra­solo at an apart­ment in nearby Deck­erville in 2010.

Sani­lac County Pros­e­cu­tor James V. Young and Eric G. Scott, the as­sis­tant pros­e­cu­tor who han­dled the cus­tody mat­ter, have not re­turned phone calls to The News. Ross has also been un­avail­able for com­ment since last week.

On Tues­day, Young is­sued a press re­lease de­tail­ing how the pa­ter­nity ac­tion was ini­ti­ated by the Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices in July af­ter sur­vey­ing the mother. Young said be­cause of the case, his of­fice’s pro­ce­dures will be re­viewed and changed if deemed nec­es­sary.

John Nevin, a spokesman for the state Court Ad­min­is­tra­tor’s Of­fice, which over­sees courts across Michi­gan, said Ross was never in­formed of Mi­ra­solo’s sex­ual as­sault con­vic­tions be­fore sign­ing the joint cus­tody or­der. Nevin said the Pros­e­cu­tor’s Of­fice had a duty to dis­close the in­for­ma­tion.

State law re­stricts peo­ple who have com­mit­ted non­con­sen­sual sex­ual acts from hav­ing parental rights. And the Pros­e­cu­tor’s Of­fice doesn’t de­cide par­ent­ing and cus­tody is­sues, Kiessling said.

The cus­tody case has an­gered many, not just be­cause a con­victed rapist was be­ing given joint cus­tody but be­cause many feel Mi­ra­solo never re­ceived proper pun­ish­ment for his crimes, both set­tled with plea agree­ments.

Be­cause of the age of his vic­tim, Mi­ra­solo could have faced up to life in prison with a min­i­mum 25-year sen­tence.

But in Jan­uary 2009, he pleaded guilty to at­tempted third-de­gree crim­i­nal sex­ual con­duct and re­ceived a one-year sen­tence in county jail. Mi­ra­solo was re­leased to care for his sick mother.

In March 2010, while still on pro­ba­tion, Mi­ra­solo com­mit­ted an­other sex­ual as­sault on a 14year-old Deck­erville girl. He pleaded no con­test to fourth-de­gree crim­i­nal sex­ual con­duct and served four years of a five-year min­i­mum sen­tence.

Sen­tenc­ings in both cases were han­dled by Sani­lac County Cir­cuit Judge Don­ald A. Teeple.

Mi­ra­solo

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