AP NEWS

Judge takes away child custody from convicted rapist

October 17, 2017 GMT

Sandusky — A Sanilac County judge rescinded an order Tuesday he gave last month granting a convicted rapist partial custody of a child conceived during his sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl in 2008.

Judge Gregory Ross scheduled the hearing last week after controversy erupted over his ruling that gave parental rights to Christopher Mirasolo, 27, of Brown City.

The victim informed the court she was pregnant and her mother requested that Mirasolo’s attacker’s parental rights be terminated as part of his sentence, according to letters released Monday.

The girl and her mother’s 2008 letters were written before Mirasolo was sentenced for attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct for the attack, in which the girl said she was raped and held captive for two days.

“As part of his sentence I wish that he be made to sign off his rights to this baby and his rights be terminated,” the victim’s mother wrote to the court on Dec. 29, 2008.

Despite the known pregnancy, Mirasolo was sentenced on lesser charges of attempted sexual assault and served less than seven months behind bars. Had he been convicted of the sexual assault of a minor, as the pregnancy would have confirmed, he would have faced a sentence of 25 years to life.

The unusual case was sparked by the victim’s request for government assistance, which prompted a review of paternity for the child, an 8-year-old boy. When paternity was established, Ross ordered joint custody for Mirasolo.

But outrage has continued over the handling of Mirasolo’s two sexual assaults in this county of just over 40,000 people along Lake Huron in Michigan’s Thumb region.

“I cannot understand how he can plead guilty to attempted third degree,” his victim’s mother wrote Judge Donald A. Teeple on Dec. 29, 2008, two weeks before sentencing, adding that she wanted Mirasolo of Brown City sentenced “to the fullest extent of the law” so no one else would be victimized.

“He has stolen my 12-year-old’s innocence, trust and robbed her of her teenage years,” she wrote. “I feel justice has not been served and no punishment he gets will be enough.”

The assault of a minor potentially carried any term of prison years up to life, but a minimum of 25 years. Instead, Mirasolo was allowed to plead to a lesser charge of attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct and given a one-year county jail sentence, of which he served less than seven months.

A few months after his release from jail, he sexually assaulted a  14-year-old victim under similar circumstances.

The Detroit News generally does not identify sexual assault victims and is not disclosing the name of the mother or the child.

The 12-year-old wrote Teeple, saying: “I have found out I am pregnant and will be giving birth on or about June 12, 2009. This will forever change my life in ways that I can’t begin to imagine. My childhood and teenage years will never be just mine I will have the consequences of that one time with me forever.

“Chris knows that I am only 12 years old and still he did this to me. Whatever he gets for this will not be enough to make up for what I will be going through,” the victim wrote.

In March 2010, while still on probation, Mirasolo committed another assault on a 14-year-old Deckerville girl who said he armed himself with brass knuckles and threatened to kill her. He pleaded no contest to a lesser offense of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and served four years of a five-year minimum sentence, also issued by Teeple.

Mirasolo has declined to be interviewed. His attorney, Barbara Yockey, has declined to discuss the criminal cases but said she and the first victim’s attorney have been working on resolving matters. “My client never sought or asked for any custody or visitation,” Yockey stressed.

Sanilac County officials could not be reached for comment. Since the case became public, the county’s assistant prosecutor, elected prosecutor and judge have been unavailable for comment. A statement from Ross said he was unaware of Mirasolo’s criminal convictions when he granted custody.

In a news release, the office of county Prosecutor James Young said the custody case “should never have been sent to the Prosecutor’s Office because the (Michigan) Department of Health and Human Services was aware that this child was a product of a nonconsensual sexual act.”

DHHS declined to respond specifically to the prosecutor’s statement but a department spokesman said decisions on parental rights are made by local, not state, officials.

The victim’s attorney, Rebecca Kiessling, said her client was never consulted in the custody decision and her signature does not appear on the consent agreement.

Kiessling said the letters are a “smoking gun” that show that the prosecutor’s office and judge knew her client was pregnant yet, for unknown reasons, approved a plea bargain for a lesser offense and sentences that made the sexual assault of the second victim possible.

The News reviewed copies of the letters from the victim and her mother — both dated and time-stamped by Sanilac County court.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319