A Michigan judge on Tuesday put on hold an order that reportedly granted joint legal custody of an 8-year-old boy to a convicted sex offender who allegedly raped the child’s mother when she was 12 years old.
Sanilac County prosecutors said the case began when the now 21-year-old mother requested state assistance this summer for her son. As a condition of receiving that financial assistance, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services required her to cooperate with pursuing paternity and support for the child, prosecutors said.
A ruling last month in the case granted the woman sole physical custody of the boy, but Christopher Mirasolo, 27, of Brown City, also was granted joint legal custody after DNA tests showed he was the biological father, the woman’s attorney said. He was ordered to pay child support after the tests.
In Michigan, joint legal custody enables both parents to share decision-making authority about a child’s welfare.
In a bizarre twist, the prosecutor’s office announced on Wednesday that joint custody had not been granted – as had been widely reported in the press. Rebecca Kiessling, the woman’s lawyer, and Barbara Yockey, the man’s lawyer, have both previously said joint custody was granted.
Kiessling told the Detroit News she was stunned by the ruling granting the alleged attacker parental rights.
“This is insane,” Kiessling told Detroit News. “Nothing has been right about this since it was originally investigated. He was never properly charged and should still be sitting behind bars somewhere, but the system is victimizing my client, who was a child herself when this all happened.”
The woman's attorney claims Mirasolo raped the girl in September 2008, when he was 18. He was arrested a month later, but prosecutors eventually allowed him to plead guilty to third-degree sexual conduct, a felony, and he was sentenced to a year in jail – but he was cut loose early so he could help take care of his ailing mother.
Two years later, he was arrested again and sentenced to four years in prison for fourth-degree sexual conduct. That victim was between 13 and 15 years old, according to Mirasolo's listing on the sex offender registry.
It's unclear whether prosecutors handling the state assistance and paternity case knew about Mirasolo's criminal history.
Sanilac County Judge Gregory Ross, who signed last month's order, agreed Tuesday to put the order on hold. He set a hearing for Oct. 17.
Yockey said she spoke to Kiessling on Monday and they agreed on a private resolution that will be presented to the judge.
Yockey and the county prosecutor's office noted that Mirasolo didn't initiate the case and never sought custody or visitation.
James V. Young, the Sanilac County prosecutor, told MLive the original ruling was largely misconstrued.
"Mr. Mirasolo never requested any determination of paternity, visitation, or custody ... the mother was not ordered to provide any visitation of any kind," prosecutors said in a statement released Tuesday.
Young also said in a statement that the mother had sole physical custody of the child.
"The order is clear that, if the mother does not want the father to have visitation,” Young said, “she does not have to provide it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.