Legislative move on custody issue best approach

Sometimes it takes action by elected officials to insure that public employees, including judges, clerks and others, are able to do their jobs properly.

That’s the case, apparently, with new legislation introduced last week in the Michigan House of Representatives that would make it illegal for the biological father to be awarded custody of the child he helped to conceive during a sexual assault.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks. The Associated Press, in widely syndicated stories recently, reported that a downstate man had been given custody of a child he fathered when he raped a 12-year-old about 8 years ago.

Although that case was headed off following a very loud public outcry, State Rep. Pam Faris, D-Clio, who introduced the bill, wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“This particular case fell through a lot of holes in a lot of different systems and ended up being a nightmare for this young lady and her family,” Faris told AP. “We really don’t want rapists who plead down to a lesser crime to have custody or visitation. This bill is for victims in the future. Everyone has seen the error of their ways in this case, but this woman has gone through three weeks of hell.”

Specifically, the bill, if signed into law, would prohibit people who are convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct from getting custody of a child that is the product of an assault, AP stated.

It appears the judge, who signed the custody order, wasn’t aware of the earlier rape conviction. The order was rescinded following the public outcry.

This is one of those bills that transcends partisan politics. It should fly through both houses of the state Legislature and land on the governor’s desk with dispatch who, we trust, will promptly sign it into law.