Proos supports bill to protect rape victims

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — A struggling mother whose child was conceived in rape would not have to worry about sharing custody with the father under legislation supported by Sen. John Proos.

“A rapist should never have access to a child conceived as a result of his rape of the mother,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “While parental rights can already be terminated after conviction of rape, this legislation would give additional protections by ensuring that rape victims applying for public assistance do not need to include the name of the biological father.”

In Michigan, when applying for Family Independence Program benefits with the Department of Health and Human Services, a parent must disclose the identity of the other biological parent, if known. Under department policy, an exemption is made for rape victims.

Senate Bill 650 would ensure that applicants know that they do not need to disclose the biological father’s identity if the child was conceived due to criminal sexual conduct committed by that parent.

The legislation was the result of a Michigan case, where a judge in Sanilac County awarded joint legal custody of a child to a convicted sex offender after the child’s mother had filed for child support and was required to list the biological father. The judge in the case was not presented with evidence that the father had raped the woman before signing the order awarding him joint legal custody, which includes the ability to argue for parenting time.

“Thankfully, after the information about the rape was brought to light, the order was reversed,” Proos said. “This bill would help ensure that no mother has to go through this in Michigan.”

SB 650 has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.