Over the weekend I posted a piece about Sanilac Probate Judge Gregory S. Ross awarding joint custody of a 9-year old boy, the child of the woman he raped when she was 12 years old. Christopher Mirasolo held the girl and her sister captive for two days, impregnating her during that time. Under a plea deal, he served only six and a half months for the rape and the victim and her family were told they don’t like to send first-time sex offenders to prison because “people come out worse after they go there.” He later raped another child and spent four years in prison for that.
Because his first rape victim was getting public assistance (food stamps, etc.), the local prosecutor compelled Mirasolo to take a paternity test so they could force him to start paying child support. Once paternity was confirmed, Judge Ross took it upon himself to award joint custody without the rape victim’s consent. Presumably this was so they could extract support from him and relieve the government from that financial burden.
However, Judge Ross was not required to do this. Under a law passed in 2016 called the Child Custody Act, he could have compelled Mirasolo to pay child support without putting the woman he raped as a 12-year old child through this nightmare. Here’s part of the law which is now MCL 722.25 [emphasis mine]:
722.25 Child custody dispute; controlling interests, presumption; award of custody to parent convicted of criminal sexual conduct or acts of nonconsensual sexual penetration; prohibition; support or maintenance obligation; defense; “offending parent” defined.
(1) If a child custody dispute is between the parents, between agencies, or between third persons, the best interests of the child control. If the child custody dispute is between the parent or parents and an agency or a third person, the court shall presume that the best interests of the child are served by awarding custody to the parent or parents, unless the contrary is established by clear and convincing evidence.
(2) Notwithstanding other provisions of this act, if a child custody dispute involves a child who is conceived as the result of acts for which 1 of the child’s biological parents is convicted of criminal sexual conduct as provided in sections 520a to 520e and 520g of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520a to 750.520e and 750.520g, or a substantially similar statute of another state or the federal government, or is found by clear and convincing evidence in a fact-finding hearing to have committed acts of nonconsensual sexual penetration, the court shall not award custody to that biological parent. This subsection does not apply to a conviction under section 520d(1)(a) of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520d. This subsection does not apply if, after the date of the conviction, or the date of the finding in a fact-finding hearing described in this subsection, the biological parents cohabit and establish a mutual custodial environment for the child.
(3) An offending parent is not entitled to custody of a child described in subsection (2) without the consent of that child’s other parent or guardian.
(4) Notwithstanding other provisions of this act, subsection (2) does not relieve an offending parent of any support or maintenance obligation to the child. The other parent or the guardian of the child may decline support or maintenance from the offending parent.
(5) A parent may assert an affirmative defense of the provisions of subsection (2) in a proceeding brought by the offending parent regarding a child described in subsection (2).
(6) Notwithstanding other provisions of this act, if an individual is convicted of criminal sexual conduct as provided in sections 520a to 520e and 520g of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520a to 750.520e and 750.520g, and the victim is the individual’s child, the court shall not award custody of that child or a sibling of that child to that individual, unless both the child’s other parent and, if the court considers the child or sibling to be of sufficient age to express his or her desires, the child or sibling consent to the custody.
(7) As used in this section, “offending parent” means a parent who has been convicted of criminal sexual conduct as described in subsection (2) or who has been found by clear and convincing evidence in a fact-finding hearing to have committed acts of nonconsensual sexual penetration as described in subsection (2).
So, why did Judge Ross do this? Why did he give Mirasolo the phone number and address of the woman he raped without her consent? Why did he award joint custody, something Mirasolo himself claims he never sought, when the law specifically says he didn’t have to? In fact, did Judge Ross actually VIOLATE THE LAW in doing so? After all, the law says, “if a child custody dispute involves a child who is conceived as the result of acts for which 1 of the child’s biological parents is convicted of criminal sexual … or is found by clear and convincing evidence in a fact-finding hearing to have committed acts of nonconsensual sexual penetration, the court shall not award custody to that biological parent.”
The phrase “shall not” suggests he DID violate the law.
These are fine questions to be asking. And you can ask him yourself. His contact information is publicly available on the Sanilac County website HERE:
You can also sign a petition to have Ross removed from office HERE. If that effort isn’t successful in removing Ross from the bench, he is up for election in November of 2020 and this should be an exceedingly important campaign topic during that election.
One other thing: Republican Senator Rick Jones introduced legislation in 2015 – Senate Bill 629 – that would put even more teeth into laws preventing rape victims from being compelled to share custody with the person who sexually assaulted them:
“I want to ensure that victims of rape are not faced with a custody battle from their rapist,” Jones said.
Current state law allows a court to terminate parental rights once a rapist is criminally convicted.
SB 629 would allow courts to terminate all rights upon the victim petitioning before a family court judge, requiring a lower burden of proof.
“Sometimes it’s an acquaintance rape, they don’t wish to bring charges and put the person in prison; sometimes the victim simply doesn’t want to go through the criminal trial,” Jones said.
Jones says that he has heard from domestic violence groups regarding the issue.
“I’ve actually heard of horrible cases where the rapist contacted the victim after they heard that a child had been conceived and said: ‘Get an abortion, and if you don’t, I will be going for custody,'” he said.
After spending 31 years in law enforcement, Jones says he has seen the ramifications that rape has on the victim.
“I certainly cannot imagine a rapist being able to continue to harass the victim, or have custody of a child conceived in that act,” he said.
Unfortunately, that bill never made it out of committee and hasn’t been reintroduced. Perhaps now would be a good time to try again.
UPDATE 2: An important update to this story is HERE. It’s beginning to look like the most evil player in this sad drama is the County Prosecutor James V. Young.