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Bill's passage would strip rapists of parental rights

A bill in the Colorado House of Representatives would strip convicted rapists of their parental rights to a child conceived during their crime. The Senate has already unanimously passed the bill. Currently, though, rapists can sue for child custody in Colorado.

Colorado Representative Lois Landgraf brought a woman before the House to describe what transpired almost thirty years ago while she was in the Army, stationed in Vietnam. The woman and a friend were brutally raped by other soldiers after they were kidnapped and beaten. As a result of the rape, the woman who testified became pregnant. She was also diagnosed with gonorrhea.

Once her rapist discovered she was pregnant, he wrote her a note telling her that he wanted to have custody of the baby. Unfortunately, Colorado law then could not prevent – and still does not prevent – the man from suing for custody. The new bill would change that so convicted rapist have no parental rights at all to a child conceived as a result of their crime.

The woman wanted to urge lawmakers to vote for the bill so others would not have to endure what she went through. The new bill would only apply to those convicted of rape after July 1, 2013 and would still require child support payments from the rapist.

According to Representative Landgraf, the current law could force a rape victim to keep some sort of relationship with their attacker should the victim decide to keep the child. Landgraf is the sponsor of the bill currently before the House to keep this from happening.

According to a spokeswoman for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, there have been instances when a victim has had to fight her rapist in court to keep him from getting custody of a child conceived from the rape.

Even traditional child custody laws are complicated. An experienced attorney can explain the laws that govern child custody, child support and visitation so you know how best to proceed.

Source:  denver.cbslocal.com, "Bill Would Prevent Rapists From Having Parental Rights" No author given, Apr. 26, 2013

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