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How A Convicted Rapist Got Joint Custody


It was shocking to learn that a convicted rapist from Sanilac County, Christopher Mirasolo, was given joint legal custody of a child conceived during his sexual assault of a 12 year old girl. But if a bill that is pending in the state legislature is passed, joint custody for rapists could become automatic statewide.

2008 Mirasalo sexually assaults 12 year old girl.

2009 Rape survivor gives birth to a baby, conceived during the attack. Still a child herself, she receives public assistance from the State of Michigan.

2010 Mirasalo sexually assaults a second victim. He is convicted of both sexual assaults and sent to prison.

2016 Mirasalo is released on parole.

2017 State of Michigan starts a child support case against Mirasolo in family court. Judge, without hearing arguments from either parent, gives Mirasolo (a convicted, habitual child rapist) joint legal custody and visitation with the child.

Hopefully, the rape survivor and mother of the minor child will be able to correct this terrible error at a hearing that has been scheduled later this month. However, the initial ruling demonstrates how dangerous it can be when family courts grant joint custody without understanding the complexities of each case.

In the meantime, House Bill 4691 (the “Michigan Shared Parenting Act”) has passed through committee and is on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives. This bill proposes to throw out almost 50 years of Michigan child custody law. If passed, it would automatically require joint legal and physical custody in all cases.

Assault survivors would face significant barriers to protecting their children. If a parent, like the young woman in the Sanilac County case, alleges assault as a defense to automatic joint custody but is unsuccessful at trial, under this new law they could completely lose custody rights for that child as a penalty.

The Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCEDSV) is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of survivors. We support the survivor in the Sanilac County case. And we support child custody laws that protect children by putting their safety and best interests first. This is why, in 2016, we advocated for the Rape Survivor’s Custody Act. While that Michigan law allows a sexual assault survivor to petition to preemptively terminate the parental rights of her rapist, it was not available to the 12 year old rape victim in 2009. It also places the burden on rape victims to take separate civil action beyond the criminal proceeding.

Every Michigan family is unique. House Bill 4691’s proposed changes to Michigan custody law could endanger survivors of sexual assault and their children. A one-size-fits-all system does not work for Michigan’s children. Instead of throwing out decades of family law, MCEDSV encourages our state representatives to take further measures to ensure that survivors and their children are truly protected by the Rape Survivor’s Custody Act and other existing laws.

Sarah Prout Rennie, Executive Director MCEDSV