In early October 2017, several news outlets aggregated an article by the Detroit News reporting that a man had been granted joint legal custody of a child who was conceived when he raped a 12-year-old girl in 2008:
A Sanilac County Circuit judge has granted parenting time and joint legal custody of an 8-year-old boy to a convicted sex offender who had allegedly raped the child’s mother nine years earlier.
Christopher Mirasolo, 27, of Brown City was awarded joint legal custody by Judge Gregory S. Ross after DNA testing established paternity of the child, according to the victim’s attorney, Rebecca Kiessling, who was seeking protection under the federal Rape Survivor Child Custody Act.
The case, initially reported on The Steve Gruber Show, a Lansing-based radio program, is believed the first of its kind in Michigan and possibly the nation. According to the victim and Kiessling, it was prompted after the county surveyed the victim regarding child support she had received this past year.
“This is insane,” said Kiessling, who filed objections with Ross. “Nothing has been right about this since it was originally investigated. He was never properly charged and should still be sitting behind bars somewhere, but the system is victimizing my client, who was a child herself when this all happened."
According to Mirasolo's attorney Barbara Yockey, the child's custody came to issue when the victim applied for assistance in the state of Michigan. The case was not even the first of its sort to make national headlines in Detroit after a custodial parent's pursuit of public assistance triggered a bizarre turn of events; several years earlier, a man was ordered to pay a large sum of back child support to the state -- even though paternity tests had determined that the child in question was not his.
Yockey said that Mirasolo had not initiated the request for custody:
“Chris was notified of the paternity matter and an order of filiation was issued by the court saying he had joint legal custody and reasonable visitation privileges,” she said. “He never initiated this. It was something routinely done by the prosecutor’s office when a party makes application for state assistance.
“I don’t know what his plans or intentions might be regarding any future relationship with the child,” Yockey said. “This might be something we will have a conversation about, but he has not been served with any other court papers and is not scheduled to be in court.”
The female victim seemed to corroborate Yockey's assertion about public assistance triggering the disclosures and custody change:“I think this is all crazy,” she [the victim] told The News. “They (officials) never explained anything to me. I was receiving about $260 a month in food stamps for me and my son and health insurance for him. I guess they were trying to see how to get some of the money back.”
According to the Detroit News, Mirasolo kidnapped the victim and her sister and kept them captive for two days before releasing and threatening to kill them if they told anyone. He served only six and a half months in prison and reportedly later went on to sexually assault another victim who was between 13 and 15 years old.
On 17 October 2017, the order was rescinded:
Sanilac County Judge Gregory Ross stressed that he was unaware of Christopher Mirasolo’s two previous criminal sexual conduct convictions — including one concerning the boy’s mother — when he issued the original ruling. The new order grants Mirasolo no parental rights.
“I did not know that the defendant had raped the plaintiff, which resulted in the child being conceived,” Ross wrote in the order. “The question that everyone is asking is, ‘How could a judge do such a thing?’ The answer is that this judge was not aware, did not have knowledge of the fact that the defendant raped the plaintiff, and the child was born as a result.”