A contentious ruling made by a Boston court of appeals will allow a man who impregnated a 14-year-old girl after raping her to fight for parental and visitation rights.
Wendy Murphy, who represents the now 21-year-old victim and her 7-year-old daughter, was stunned by the decision.
“We were shocked,” Murphy told Fox 25 Boston.
The entire case has been in the public eye for several years, and made headlines in April when Murphy asked the state appeals court to block the convicted rapist from seeking parental rights through family court. Eight months later, the courts denied Murphy’s request.
“My client, a 14-year-old rape victim who became pregnant from rape, has to share parental rights with the man who attacked her,” Murphy said.
Jamie Melendez, who pleaded guilty to raping the victim at her family’s home in 2011, was originally sentenced to probation. He was later ordered to pay $110 a week in child support by a family court.
Because he supports the child financially, it made it easier for the courts to make their decision. According to the justices, it would "unfairly disadvantage the child by depriving her of the right to receive financial support from both parents.”
Additionally, there was a law passed in 2014 that directly helps Melendez’s case.
“There's almost an incentive in the law for rapists to leave DNA at the crime scene and cause pregnancy, because they know if pregnancy happens it will give them an advantage in court,” Murphy said.
When Melendez most recently petitioned for visitation with his biological daughter, a judge denied his motion.
However, Melendez can continue to fight for visitation until his biological daughter turns 18.
(Photo: Fox 25 News)
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