Target: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick
Goal: Urge removal of paternity rights for rapists
Recently in Massachusetts a court granted paternity rights to the rapist who fathered a child during the actual rape of his victim. The rapist was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to sixteen years’ probation. Part of the conditions of his probation was that the rapist must initiate proceedings in family court to keep up with his victim and the child, effectively forcing his victim to participate in involuntary court proceedings with her rapist for the next sixteen years.
Jamie Melendez was twenty years old when he raped the fourteen-year-old H.T., causing the pregnancy. H.T.’s mother had to quit her job to care for the child. Melendez pleaded guilty to the rape in 2011, and yet a court still deemed it fit to grant him paternity rights and inflict irreparable mental and emotional damage on his captive victim.
Melendez began seeking visitation rights in 2012, and offered to withdraw his request if the family would release him from his obligation to pay child support. The rapist is using the court system to continue to manipulate his victim and harass her family. When H.T. requested Melendez begin paying criminal restitution instead of child support in order to relieve her of the obligation to him as the father, the courts denied her request.
This court mandate, binding a victim to her rapist against her will through the birth of a child as a result of the crime itself, is unfortunately all too common. This perpetuates, as well, the extremely common belief that a rape victim is somehow responsible for her rape and the repercussions from it.
Please sign this petition to urge Governor Deval Patrick to remove all paternity rights from this case and any and all convicted rapists.
Dear Governor Deval Patrick,
Recently, a Massachusetts court provided a convicted rapist paternity rights to a child fathered during the rape of a fourteen-year-old girl. Not only did this rape and pregnancy disrupt this young girl’s life permanently and cause her irreparable physical, mental, and emotional damage, but now the rapist is continuing to manipulate and torture his victim through the Massachusetts court system.
The rapist, Jamie Melendez, has been seeking visitation rights, only offering to give them up on the terms that his victim relieve his obligation to pay her restitution, or child support. Under this arrangement, the mother is forced to choose between allowing her rapist to know and interact with her child or losing the monetary support that she needs in order to provide for her family.
This situation is a perfect example of the hideous attitude toward rape victims in this country, and the way we hold them responsible for their own rapes. Please remove this convicted rapist’s paternal rights to this child and have him pay criminal restitution to the mother. Furthermore, please revoke all paternal rights from all convicted rapists in the present and future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: File photo, Canwest News Service via Wikimedia Commons