Bill filed to prevent rapists from claiming parental rights to children conceived during attacks

01/15/2014 07:16 AM

UPDATED: A Republican state representative wants to make Kentucky the 20th state to bar rapists from having the parental rights to visit a child conceived during a sexual assault.

House Bill 198 is sponsored by Rep. David Meade, R-Stanford. Meade told Pure Politics on Tuesday when he filed the bill that it stemmed from national coverage of high profile rape cases as well as from issue one of his constituents has been struggling with.

The concept now has bipartisan support with Democratic Rep. Dennis Keene of Wilder sponsoring a similar measure — House Bill 62 — as he did last year.

The issue garnered national attention in August when CNN reported on Ohio kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro petitioned the court for parental visitation to the daughter he fathered with one of his victims he had held captive in his Cleveland home for a decade.

According to CNN, Kentucky is one of 31 states which can grant paternity rights to rapists.

“This is just a situation where I feel that no person should have to live with that fear that their attacker might come back and request some type of parental rights for a child if they choose to carry that child after that crime has been committed on them,” Meade said.

The legislation also uses the term “sexual assault” rather than rape to cover plea bargaining agreements often made, Meade said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, the former Kentucky attorney general, told Pure Politics he “didn’t realize it wasn’t a law.”

“You live and learn,” he said. Currently the only Democratic co-sponsor of the legislation is Rep. Gerald Watkins of Paducah, but Meade said he is hoping to enlist more bipartisan support.

The bill, Meade said, will come before the House Judiciary Committee after some “more research.”

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