As reported by The Detroit News
A Sanilac County Circuit judge has granted parenting time and joint legal custody of an 8-year-old boy to a convicted sex offender who allegedly raped the child’s mother nine years ago.
Christopher Mirasolo, 27, of Brown City was awarded joint legal custody by Judge Gregory S. Ross after DNA testing established paternity of the child, according to the victim’s attorney, Rebecca Kiessling, who is seeking protection under the federal Rape Survivor Child Custody Act. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.
The case, initially reported on “The Steve Gruber Show,” a Lansing-based radio program, is believed the first of its kind in Michigan and possibly the nation. According to the victim and Kiessling, it was prompted after the county surveyed the victim regarding child support she had received this past year.
“This is insane,” said Kiessling, who filed objections Friday with Ross. “Nothing has been right about this since it was originally investigated. He was never properly charged and should still be sitting behind bars somewhere, but the system is victimizing my client, who was a child herself when this all happened.”
Ross disclosed the rape victim’s address to Mirasolo and ordered Mirasolo’s name to be added to the child’s birth certificate — all without the victim’s consent or a hearing, according to Kiessling.
“An assistant prosecutor on this, Eric Scott, told me she had granted her consent, which was a lie — she has never been asked to do this and certainly never signed anything,” Kiessling said.
Ross could not be reached Friday afternoon.
Scott did not return telephone calls Friday, and Sanilac County’s elected prosecutor, James V. Young, was out of the office for the day and unavailable, a receptionist said.
Kiessling said her client was notified she was “not allowed to move 100 miles from where she had been living when the case was filed, without court consent.”
“So the prosecutor told her she had to come home immediately or she would be held in contempt of court,” Kiessling said.
That instruction, along with other matters ordered by the court, will be taken up at the hearing later this month.
According to Kiessling, Mirasolo forcibly raped and threatened to kill her client, now 21, nine years ago when the woman was 12. Mirasolo was 18 when the incident occurred in September 2008.
“She, her 13-year-old sister and a friend all slipped out of their house one night to meet a boy and the boy’s older friend, Mirasolo, showed up and asked if they wanted to go for a ride,” said Kiessling. “They thought they were going to McDonald’s or somewhere.
“Instead, he tossed their cellphones away, drove to Detroit where he stole gas from a station and then drove back to Sanilac County, where he kept them captive for two days in a vacant house near a relative, finally releasing the older sister in a park. He threatened to kill them if they told anyone what happened.”
Mirasolo was arrested a month later, she said, when her client was pregnant.
While the assault potentially carried a penalty of life or any term of years but not less than 25 years, Mirasolo was given a plea deal by the Sanilac County Prosecutor’s Office for attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Mirasolo was sentenced to one year in the county jail but only served six and a half months before early release so he could care for his sick mother, Kiessling said.
“She (client) and her family was told first-time sex offenders weren’t sent to prison because people come out worse after they go there,” said Kiessling.
In March 2010, Mirasolo committed a sex assault on a victim between the ages of 13 and 15 years old. He served only four years for that second offense, Kiessling said.
Barbara Yockey, Mirasolo’s attorney, said it’s unclear what her client’s future involvement — if any — will be with the child. She declined to discuss any of his past criminal cases.
“Chris was notified of the paternity matter and an order of filiation was issued last month by the court saying he had joint legal custody and reasonable visitation privileges,” she said. “He never initiated this. It was something routinely done by the prosecutor’s office when a party makes application for state assistance.
“I don’t know what his plans or intentions might be regarding any future relationship with the child,” Yockey said. “This might be something we will have a conversation about, but he has not been served with any other court papers and is not scheduled to be in court.”
Meanwhile, the rape victim’s family suggested abortion or giving the child up for adoption. She did neither.
“To her credit, she said she didn’t want the baby to be a victim, too,” said Kiessling. “She dropped out of school, went to live with relatives out of state and worked jobs to try and support herself.”
The Detroit News’ policy is not to identify sexual assault victims.
The woman spoke briefly Friday about her situation.
“I think this is all crazy,” she told The News. “They (officials) never explained anything to me. I was receiving about $260 a month in food stamps for me and my son and health insurance for him. I guess they were trying to see how to get some of the money back.”