Rape culture Women's Rights

Judge backtracks on giving rapist custody

Judge Gregory Ross recently came under fire after ordering that convicted rapist Christopher Mirasolo could have joint custody to the boy he fathered with a 12-year-old girl nine years ago. Now that the case has caught media attention, the judge has vacated the order and removed custodial rights for Mirasolo. 

In a statement, Sanilac County Prosecutor James Young says he wants to “express our apologies for the manner in which this case was handled.”Ross had signed a paternity order on Sept. 22 naming Mirasolo as the father of the boy. Mirasolo was ordered to pay child support and was granted joint custody and parenting time.

When it became public the boy was conceived through rape, public outcry was widespread, and people gathered on the courthouse lawn in protest Tuesday.

Rebecca Kiessling, the victim’s lawyer, said she was disappointed with the ruling. “There is still a problem,” she said. “Her signature wasn’t on the (original) consent order. They are not allowed to issue a consent order without her consent.”

She also said Ross’s decision did not address the issue of child support.

“The judge just completely vacated the order,” Kiessling said. “She did not get child support. She is entitled to child support.”

In his decision, which he read in court, Ross wrote: “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.”

He said he was presented with a paternity petition which he reviewed and there was nothing unusual in the order.

“It has been suggested that I ‘rubber stamped’ this order,” he wrote. “I do not rubber stamp orders. I felt it was routine. I did not ‘rubber stamp’ it.” Both Ross and Young said procedures will be reviewed.

“The Family Division of the Circuit Court will be reviewing its procedures also,” Ross wrote. “This should not happen to anyone.”

Sandra Potter, of Peck, is founder of Dreamcatchers for Abused Children and one of the organizers of Tuesday’s rally at the Sanilac County Courthouse.

“Giving a twice-convicted sex-offender any type of custody and parental rights is unprecedented,” she said.

Mirasolo pleaded guilty to attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct in the Sept. 6, 2008, assault of the child’s mother, who was 12 at the time. 

He was discharged from the department of corrections on Dec. 20, 2010. 

Mirasolo pleaded no contest to third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in a March 29, 2010, incident involving a 15-year-old girl

Both victims spoke during Tuesday’s rally.

“I was kidnapped and raped by Christopher Mirasolo,” said the woman who was 12 at the time of the assault. “He told me he would kill me if I told anybody he had raped me.”

In a response to objections of his being awarded custody of his son, Mirasolo said his relationship with the boy’s mother when she was 12 was romantic. 

“The Defendant absolutely denies that he forcibly raped or threatened to kill the minor child’s mother. In further response, the Defendant states that the Plaintiff became pregnant while the parties were in a romantic relationship that lasted several months. The relationship occurred when the Defendant was 18 years old and the Plaintiff was approximately five years younger than the Defendant,” reads the response filed by Mirasolo’s lawyer. 

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