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Victims could strip rapists of parental rights under Ohio bill

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2014 | Child Custody

Ohio family law judges encourage former couples to work together to raise children, even when Columbus parents no longer want to be with one another. A parent with physical child custody provides the home where children reside, with visitation privileges accorded to the non-custodial parent. Legal custody gives a parent decision-making power over the children’s welfare.

Senate Bill 207 recently shifted to the Ohio House following full Senate approval. The legislation would change current state law, which does not prevent a convicted rapist from exercising parental rights when a child is born of a sexual assault. The legal measure would allow rape victims to ask courts to revoke the attacker’s rights, including input on whether a child is placed for adoption.

Ohio could become the 20th state to enact a law empowering rape survivors who, otherwise, might have to maintain a legal connection to the people who harmed them. The issue was highlighted following the case of Ariel Castro, who fathered a child with one of three women he kidnapped, confined and sexually abused over a decade in Cleveland. A court denied Castro’s request to visit with his daughter, a 6-year-old girl conceived by rape.

Current research is thin on the number of children conceived by rape in the U.S., although a 1996 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology estimated more than 32,000 pregnancies occurred nationwide each year as a result of rape. Conception occurred in about five percent of all rapes among more than 4,000 women studied. Nearly one-third chose to keep their babies.

Physical and legal custody can be shared or restricted to one parent. Non-custodial parents frequently have an equal say in how a child is brought up, even though the time they spend with children is limited. When a parent’s influence is harmful to a child, judges may restrict terms of visitation or, in extreme cases, revoke parental rights.

Source: Stow Sentry, “State considers allowing rape victims to revoke parental rights of attackers” Marc Kovac, Jun. 06, 2014

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