A young Massachusetts mother is currently waiting on a State Supreme Court hearing that will decide whether the man convicted of raping her will be awarded visitation rights to the child that was born from the assault.
In 2011, then 20-year old Jamie Melendez raped a 14-year-old girl. After pleading guilty to four counts of statutory rape, he was given fifteen years probation. The lower court judge, Superior Court Judge Thomas McGuire, sentenced Melendez to probation and demanded he pay child support for the baby that resulted from the rape.
The child support demand meant that a portion of the Melendez case was sent to Probate and Family Court. When the case was moved, the presiding judge in Family Court carried over the pre-ordered demand for child support. Melendez's response was to request visitation rights.
The rape victim’s attorney, Wendy Murphy, explained the error saying, "This was not a family… this is a felony." The right process, according to Murphy, was to define the financial punishment as "restitution" and not "child support."
By his actions, Murphy claims, Judge McGuire "forced" the victim into maintaining a relationship with her rapist, thereby victimizing her all over again. This ruling also opens the door for registered sex offenders to make decisions about the children who result from their sex crimes.
Just last month, Melendez, who is now registered as a sex offender, was freed after spending three months in jail for a probation violation, despite the probation office urging the courts to keep him behind bars.
In the meantime, Murphy is waiting for the hearing on the matter to make the Massachusetts Supreme Court docket calendar.
The victim is raising the baby (who is now almost four years old) with the help of her mother. Obviously angered by the situation, the victim explains, "He can hurt me all over again and no one is helping."