A Massachusetts woman is entangled in an emotional legal battle with her rapist, after a ruling allowed him to proceed with a claim for child visitation rights.
The 22-year-old woman, who does not wish to be identified, conceived a child when Jamie Melendez raped her seven years ago. She was just 14 years old at the time, while he was 20 years old.
Melendez requested to go to family court to argue for visitation rights to the child, and the woman’s appeal against his request was subsequently denied by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals.
A controversial law was passed in Massachusetts in 2014, allowing family court judges the power to grant a convicted rapist child visitation rights – provided that “visitation is in the best interest of the child.”
Under the law, the woman could potentially have to agree to just that.
“I shouldn’t have to go to family court,” the woman said, according to Time. “I don’t want to go to family court with a man that raped me. I don’t want to worry that a man who raped me will come and take my daughter.”
Melendez, who pleaded guilty in September 2011, was sentenced to 16 years on probation.
In 2012, he was ordered to pay weekly child support to the woman.