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When Can a Survivor Terminate Parental Rights

The State of Maryland is making news this week in catching up to most of the rest of county by unanimously passing a bill that is expected to be signed by the governor that will allow victims of rape or sexual assault to terminate parental rights of their attackers. Maryland’s proposed law goes further than many other states in that it does not require a conviction or guilty plea to rape or sexual assault but rather just a finding that there was “clear and convincing” evidence of the attack.

It has really only been in the last five years that laws severing rights of such attac kers have spread across the nation. Even though Ohio is not one of the six remaining states that allows attackers to request parenting rights, Ohio does require a finding of guilty or a plea on a rape charge or sexual assault before any parenting rights will be terminated. 

It was not until the Ariel Castro case that captivated the country in 2013 that Ohio even passed a law to address this issue. Castro kidnapped three women beginning in 2002 in northeast Ohio and held them captive for over ten years, repeatedly raping and beating them. After a daring escape by one of the women in 2013, Castro was arrested and charged with over 900 counts of kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder. He eventually agreed to a plea deal and was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years but not before he requested to visit with his then six-year-old daughter that was conceived by rape with one of the women he captured. The request was, of course, denied and Castro hung himself in prison one month into his lifetime sentence.

Multiple Ohio legislators introduced legislation soon after the discovery of the women in Castro’s home and the result turned into what is now the Ohio law that allows women to terminate the parental rights of their attackers (Ohio Rev. Code. 3109.501).

While it is commonly accepted that many attacks are not reported, those that are now have a remedy if the attacker is found guilty of his crime. While the standard to terminate an attacker’s rights is not yet universal, just a few years ago, attackers had the right to see their children throughout the country so steps that have been taken for mothers and children are far reaching. If you are one of these survivors or know someone who is, get in touch with one of our attorneys today to find out more about your rights. 

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