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Lawmakers look to close loophole allowing rapists to gain child custody

J Stephen Conn

House bill 5132 would bar people convicted of third-degree sexual assault from getting custody of children that are products of rape.

The bill is in response to a Sanilac County case in which a two-time convicted rapist was given custody of a child that was a product of sexual assault.

Bill sponsors said the case made them realize there was a loophole in existing law allowing for people convicted of 3rd degree sexual assault with minors to. In some circumstances, get custody.

Democratic Representative Pam Farris is a bill sponsor. She said a bill she co-sponsored in 2016 included a clause that essentially created a loophole.

“When we looked back at a bill we passed a couple years ago there's subsection that we allowed which would be a CSC third conviction where a judge can give joint custody or visitation to the father.”

Representative Farris said she isn’t sure how the clause got into the initial bill.

“I think this just got by us when we did the other bill. I was a co-sponsor of the original bill, it was Representative Lyons bill, and I agreed with her totally, but somehow this CSC third piece got in there and I’m not sure what the story is behind that but we need to take it out.”

Farris said she wants to make sure that no one is put in the same position as the Sanilac county woman again.