Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
SANILAC COUNTY, Mich.
A Michigan man who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in 2008, fathering her child, will not attempt to see the boy, despite being granted joint custody by a judge, the man’s lawyer said.
Barbara Yockey, a lawyer for Christopher Michael Mirasolo, told the Port Huron Times Herald that the matter is being resolved privately. The boy her client fathered is now 8 years old and being raised by his mother.
“He’s not going to attempt to see the child, no,” Yockey said.
The ruling over the boy’s custody garnered media attention -- and consternation from the public -- over the weekend. Those angered by the judge’s decision included Michigan’s lieutenant governor.
“This is outrageous and unacceptable,” Lt. Gov. Brian Calley wrote on Facebook. “I will begin work immediately on remedies. This article says that this case is the first of its kind in Michigan and perhaps in the nation. We need to make sure that it is also the last of its kind -- and that the decision is overturned.”
Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons, a former state representative, also vowed to see that the victim and her son remained safe.
“You can bet that I will keep an eye on this situation, and if the court further denies this victim justice, I will work with the Attorney General to ensure Michigan’s law is enforced and rape victims are protected,” Lyons wrote.
Yockey said she expects that the issue will be resolved in an Oct. 25 hearing scheduled on the case. Mirasolo’s victim, now 21, sought recourse through the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, a 2015 law that grants states more funding for victims of sexual assault if they allow courts to terminate the parental rights of rapists who father a child.
The woman’s lawyer, Rebecca Kiessling, told the Times Herald that her client is the first victim to seek protection under the new law.
Kiessling said there should be an immediate investigation into the Sanilac County Prosecutor’s Office, which initiated the custody issue.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that the office is reviewing how it handles paternity complaints, the Times Herald reported. They disputed Kiessling’s previous claims that the judge in the case, Sanilac County Judge Gregory S. Ross, gave Mirasolo her client’s home address and ordered that his name be added to the boy’s birth certificate without her client’s consent.
“This young woman came to the Sanilac County Prosecutor's Office and completed and signed a paternity questionnaire in which she disclosed the alleged father's name and address,” read the prosecutors’ statement, obtained by the Times Herald. “She further signed an agreement to cooperate with pursuing paternity and signed a statement authorizing the disclosure of her address.”
The Detroit News previously reported that Ross awarded joint legal custody to Mirasolo, 27, of Brown City, after a DNA test proved he was the boy’s biological father. WDIV-TV reported that Assistant Sanilac County Prosecutor Eric Scott filed a motion to establish the boy’s paternity and collect child support on his behalf.
Mirasolo was accused of forcibly raping the victim and threatening to kill her in September 2008, when she was 12 and he was 18. She, her 13-year-old sister and a friend sneaked out of the house one night to meet a boy and the boy’s older friend.
That friend was Mirasolo, who asked the girls if they wanted to go for a ride, Kiessling told the News.
“They thought they were going to McDonald’s or somewhere,” Kiessling told the News. “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.”
Mirasolo was arrested about a month after the attack. He faced 25 years to life in prison, but was given a plea deal in which he was convicted of attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Sentenced to a year in jail, Mirasolo served just six months before being released early to care for his sick mother, the News reported.
Kiessling told the Times Herald that the plea deal in her client’s case was “atrocious,” considering the victim’s pregnancy proved a sexual assault took place.
Mirasolo also served four years in prison in a second case from 2010, in which he was convicted of sexually assaulting a second victim, who was 15 at the time of the assault. Now free on parole, he is listed as a Tier 3 offender on the Michigan State Police’s sex offender registry.
The Times Herald reported that the victim in the second case reached out to Kiessling after Mirasolo’s custody issue made national headlines.
“He should have been in prison when she was raped,” Kiessling said. “It is the prosecutor’s fault that she was raped.”
The attorney, who is co-founder of the organization Hope After Rape Conception, said the case is a good example of why laws are needed that terminate a rapist’s parental rights.
“First of all, a rape victim should not have to be tethered to her rapists for 18 years,” Kiessling, herself a child conceived through rape, told the Times Herald. “She deserves to be fully protected from her rapists, as well as the child. Secondly, we've had several women in our organization conceived in rape, and their biological rapist fathers used visits to molest them as well.
“Someone who raped is unfit to be a parent. They don’t respect basic boundaries, so they shouldn’t be a parent. You also shouldn’t be able to benefit from your crime.”