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In 31 States, Rapists Allowed Rights To Victim's Child
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Story By: Larry Stine



  Originally Published on: 8/1/2013

  The Ohio man who pleaded guilty to imprisoning three women in his Cleveland home for about a decade each will receive his sentence Thursday.   One of Ariel Castro's victims, Amanda Berry, gave birth to his daughter while in captivity.   Tens of thousands of pregnancies each year are a result of rape, and for many of the victims, sharing custody with their attacker is a very real and frightening possibility.   Ted Rowlands reports.   When Ariel Castro asked to see the six-year-old girl he fathered by raping Amanda Berry, one of his three captives, a judge ruled no, that it was inappropriate.   The idea that a monster like Castro would have any parental rights is hard to believe, but in 31 states, rapists do, in fact, enjoy the rights of a father.   "I was astonished," says Shauna Prewitt, a rape victim.   Prewitt, who was raped at the age of 21, is now a lawyer, and is helping to enact new federal guidelines that push states to pass laws to strip rapists of their parental rights.   According to a 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, each year there are approximately 32,000 pregnancies resulting from rape.   While the majority of those pregnancies are terminated, as many as a third of those women give birth.   Prewitt says she kept her daughter, in part, because being pregnant helped her get through the pain of being raped.   "Just not feeling so alone, not feeling so dead inside, because I actually had this life growing within me and it was a comfort to me," she says.   But critics say most cases aren't as clear as the Castro case and judges currently have enough power to prevent unfit fathers from seeing their children.   "There are lots of solutions that are short of this and I think a lot of time when things come in this top-down fashion, based on one or two truly tragic stories, we end up making bad law," says attorney Aviva Orenstein.   Prewitt says there are other women out there just like her, who had no idea when they decided to keep their children, that their attackers had parental rights.   "If we knew this possibility loomed on the horizon, that we could spend the rest of out lives tethered to our attackers because of our decision to have our children, would we have made the same choice?" asked Prewitt. "And I think that's hard to answer."
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