Woman Sues Mass. Over Required Contact With Statutory Rapist

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the exact nature of the (statutory) rape charge.

BOSTON — A 19-year-old Massachusetts woman is suing the state for requiring her to attend family court with the man who raped and impregnated her.

In court filings, the victim, whom WBUR is not naming, says she and her mother repeatedly told state officials that they "wanted no contact with [Jamie] Melendez for any purpose and that they did not want the child born of the crime to have a relationship with Melendez."

Melendez pleaded guilty in September 2011 to a statutory rape charge and was sentenced to 16 years probation, including regular visits to family court.

Wendy Murphy represents the plaintiff, who was raped while home alone at the age of 14. She says the situation violates the rights of her client. "A convicted rapist is getting not only control over his victim for the next 16 years," she said, "but control that is court-ordered." That's because the plaintiff could lose custody of the child if she were to miss a court date.

In June 2102, Melendez was ordered to pay $110 per week in child support, which he hadn't paid before. After that ruling, he told a family court judge that if he were required to pay child support, he wanted visitation rights. The suit states, "He recently offered to withdraw this demand in exchange for not being obligated to pay any child support."

Murphy says her client doesn't want to be "anywhere near this guy, much less in a courtroom, litigating questions about her personal life or her child's personal life."

The victim is asking the state to end the conditions of Melendez's probation that allow him rights related to the upbringing of the now-4-year-old child, and those that require the plaintiff to interact with him.

State prosecutors declined comment.

Thirty-one states allow rapists custody and visitation rights.

This article was originally published on August 23, 2013.

This program aired on August 23, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.


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