The double standard of statutory rape laws and child support is one that needs to be addressed.  Our society has an undeniable duty to protect our young and vulnerable from sexual assaults regardless of the gender of the victim.  This protection has become nonexistent as it relates to male molestation and rape victims and the child support system.  Almost immediately after the reinvention of the child support system, male victims of sexual assault have had their rights to protection from their rapists converted into forced child support payments to be paid to their attackers.  The inequality between male and female rape victims is unambiguous and must be abolished to ensure the well-being of these rape victims.

 

The victim list of male vs. female is not the only unequal aspect in the reports of sexual assault.  The inequalities present themselves when child support enforcement becomes involved in the situation.  There are provisions in place to protect female victims of sexual assault resulting in conception and birth.  Those same conditions are ignored when the victim is a boy at the time of conception and child support becomes involved in public assistance cases.  There are always complaints being launched in reference to the inequalities that women face while trying to function in a male dominated system.  Disparities exist in pay scales, employment opportunities, and until recently, certain military positions and units.  Women are breaking glass ceilings and kicking down doors to equal opportunities while certain systems continue to practice policies that are geared only to protect the rights and safety of women.

 

Statutory rape laws assume that all sexual activities with individuals below a certain age are coercive (United State Department of Health and Human Services).  When pregnancy is the result of statutory rape, these young boys are somehow held responsible for child support payments.  In the case of the 13 year old that was raped by a 17 year old, the obvious unfairness is evident.  In 1993, the Supreme Court of Kansas found the issue of consent to sexual activity under the criminal statutes is irrelevant in a civil action to determine paternity and for support (Justia US Law, 1993).   Kansas contradicts its own laws where child support and failure to cooperate are concerned.  Although the law is not gender specific, it is plain on how it relates to births that are results of rape.  According to Kansas.gov (2014), good cause for failure to cooperate must relate to one of the following criteria: the child was conceived as a result of incest or rape.  The ‘good cause’ clause is of no benefit to boy victims who have been violated.  They are still expected to pay.

 

Another early case of such rape and child support defilement occurred in California during a 1996 ruling.  The 15 year old victim was too young to consent to sex but that was no deterrent for the California Appellate court in relation to his being forced to pay child support.  According to Walter Romans from A Voice of Men (2010), the court found that the boy was an admitted willing participant and therefore liable to pay child support.  The rapist, a 34 year old woman and predator, was not prosecuted but instead is being paid for her crime by her prey.  The law differs greatly when a woman is the victim of pregnancy that results in birth when a victim of sexual assault.  There are several options that make them exempt from forced to participate in mandated child support programs.

 

A mother can ‘opt out’ of the child support program when applying for welfare benefits with penalty if certain criterion is met during the application process.  According to Aviva Nusbaum of the Fordham Law Review (2013), The California Welfare and Institution Code enumerates seven circumstances where good cause exists, including when a child is conceived during rape.   Those same provisions are not considered when male rape victims are the target of child support complaints and forced compliance.  There are no amount of ways that a man can refuse to provide financially for his attacker or a child that was a product of rape.  The only choice that these men have is to fight a gender biased child support system.  History has proven that they are not victors when fighting the child support court system. 

 

Over the years, child support laws against men have become more stringent while laws protecting victims who have become fathers while minors has remained unrevised and unfair.  Supporters of women victims of sexual abuse are adamant on the long term negative effects that sexual assault has on female victims.  In fact, it has been reported that any contact that a victim has with their rapists can be traumatizing, (Nusbaum, 2013).  Such harmful repercussions are never considered when the rape victim is an adolescent boy.  There are cases in Kentucky and Colorado where both teens were under the age of 14 and were both ordered to pay child support once they reached adulthood.    According to Romans (2010), in Kentucky, a prosecutor stated that would help a woman collect child support from a man who was only 14 at the time she raped him.  There was no consideration of the harm that may have been inflicted upon him when he was forced to interact with his attacker.

 

The purpose for the cold and callous interaction is, with no doubt, money because this is the basis of the child support collection agency.  The fact that any meeting could have caused these victims post trauma was not even a factor in the pursuit of a payday for the sexual predator.  Even though rape is an offense that can result in a prison sentence in Kentucky and every other state, the possibility of jail was not even presented for this female perpetrator.  The prosecutor neglected to charge the woman with statutory rape (Romans, 2010).  There are more cases of men being held financially responsible for children created from artificial insemination, surrogacy, or nonconsensual sex in adulthood, but it is even more disgusting when a preteen and teenagers are forced into the burden of child support obligations.  These nonconsensual fathers are also burdened with all of the enforcements that are married to child support guidelines and punishments. 

 

There are horrific stories explaining how men, unable to afford child support payments and arrears, have found themselves homeless, indigent, and incarcerated because of child support debt.  It is all too common practice to have bank accounts seized and wages garnished when the noncustodial parent actually consented to fathering a child.  The injustice of these aggressive collection practices magnifies when considering those drastic actions taken against a minor male or female.  Most recently, a man was hit with back child support for a child he didn’t know existed and was conceived while he was too young to consent.  According to Amy Himmelberg of the Kansas First News (2014), Nick Olivas, found out two years ago when he was served with legal papers that he had fathered a daughter at age 14.  His attacker, was 20 at the time and faces no charges for the rape.  The failure to file charges against this rapist, while still a minor, should not mean that victims should be held accountable for child support obligations.  If this young man had been a female, he would have been forgiven all mandated child support participation based on an exemption in Title 46 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. 

 

Men, who have fathered a child before the age of consent, should be granted the exact exemptions that women enjoy in regards to child support involvement.  The double standard should not be permitted to continue moving forward as new men are identified as fathers based on rape.  Male victims deserve the same protections as their female counterparts.  Further emotional trauma may be experienced by being forced to communicate with their attackers.  More trauma is experienced when these boy victims are forced to pay money to the people that should have exercised the restraint of an adult dealing with underage people in sexual situations.  The courts attempt to justify this injustice by attributing the enforcement as being in the best interest of the child.  This is hypocritical considering there is no one protecting the best interest of these fathers who were sexually violated as children.

 

By forcing child support punishments, the assaulted prey is being violated repeatedly by their predator.  It is time to make the court accountable for protecting the true victims in cases like the ones in Arizona, California, Kentucky, etc, by prosecuting these mothers with the same vigor that it uses to hunt and prosecute the fathers.  The adults in these cases are responsible for the results of their actions and must pay for their crime.  The same standards that are applied to female rape victims need to be applied to male rape victims.  Traumatizing these damaged young men by making them pay their rapists constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.  Of course, the child support system is not celebrated for its constitutional or moral integrity.  We must reform the child support system in America as it relates to both consenting fathers as well as fathers who were made parents before they were old enough to legally consent to such a huge responsibility.

 

References:

American Bar Association. (n.d.). State Legislators' Handbook for Statutory Rape Issues Retrieved from http://ojp.gov/ovc/publications/infores/statutoryrape/handbook/issu.html

Aviva Nusbaum, The High Cost of Child Support in Rape Cases: Finding an Evidentiary Standard To Protect Mother and Child from Welfare’s Cooperation Requirement, 82 Fordham L. Rev. 1331 (2013).

Higdon, M. J. (2011). Fatherhood by Conscription: Nonconsensual Insemination and the Duty of Child Support (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=1761333

Himmelberg, A. (2014, September 6). Arizona rape victim ordered to pay child

support Kansas First News. Retrieved from http://kansasfirstnews.com/2014/09/06/arizona-rape-victim-order-to  pay-child-support/

Justia US Law. (1993). State Ex Rel. Hermesmann v. Seyer :: 1993 :: Kansas

Supreme Court Decisions :: Kansas Case Law :: US Case Law :: US Law Justia (67,978). Retrieved from Supreme Court of Kansas website: http://law.justia.com/cases/kansas/supreme-court/1993/67-978-3.html

Kansas Economic and Employment Services. (2014, August). 2162 Good Cause for

Failure nto Cooperate. Retrieved from http://content.dcf.ks.gov/ees/KEESM/current/keesm2162.htm

LaPeter Anton, L. (2011, July 30). He says he said no to sex, now says no to child

support Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved from http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/he-says-he-said-no-to-sex-now-says-no-to-child-support/1183449

Romans, W. (2010, October 4). Legally obscene: Rape, statutory rape, and child support.

Retrieved fromhttp://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/feminist-governance-feminism/legally-obscene/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Statutory Rape: A Guide to

State Laws and Reporting Requirements: Main Page. Retrieved from http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/08/sr/statelaws/

 

Aviva Nusbaum, The High Cost of Child Support in Rape Cases: Finding an Evidentiary Standard To Protect Mother and Child from Welfare’s Cooperation Requirement, 82 Fordham L. Rev. 1331 (2013).

 


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