A recent story from Mother Jones about women who were raped, impregnated and then forced to share custody of their child with the rapist, grabbed my attention like a knife.
Buried in this tale was another story that got slight mention in the original article. But the reporter didn’t follow it, either for lack of time, space or interest. Yes, it’s a story with a strong religion hook.
We’ll get to that later in this post. But first there are the horrible details of what one woman lived through.
Note that where the story takes place is not the Deep South but eastern Michigan.
Before her son began school last year, Tiffany Gordon showed his father’s mugshot to school administrators. “If you see this guy, you have to call the police,” she told them.
Ten years earlier, when Tiffany was 12, a young man she knew invited her, her sister, and a friend on a late-night car ride. “I thought we would be going to McDonald’s,” Tiffany recalls. Instead, 18-year-old Christopher Mirasolo raped Tiffany and took the girls to an abandoned house in eastern Michigan.
When the hiding place was discovered, it marked the end of one nightmare — and the beginning of another. A month later, Tiffany realized she was pregnant. A prosecutor filed charges against Mirasolo, who might have faced a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life for impregnating a minor if he had not pleaded guilty to attempted rape, which resulted in a prison sentence of just two years. A judge let him out less than a year later. Not long after, Mirasolo raped another young girl and was sentenced to 5 to 15 years behind bars.
Think of it: This child was 12.
Most girls would have faced pressure to abort. In this case she had crucial support at home.
Tiffany’s parents supported her decision to keep the baby. Other family members urged her to consider an abortion. But she was adamant: “My son was innocent,” Tiffany, now 23, remembers telling her family.
She dropped out of school and stayed afloat working odd jobs. For almost nine years, she didn’t speak about the assault and tried to suppress the memories — until 2017, when she applied for state assistance. Without looking into the circumstances of how she became pregnant, county probate judge Gregory S. Ross granted Mirasolo joint custody and ordered Tiffany to live within 100 miles of him. Making matters worse, Ross disclosed Tiffany’s address to Mirasolo and ordered that his name be added to her son’s birth certificate, according to her lawyer, Rebecca Kiessling.
Tiffany’s experience battling her rapist for parental rights is not unique.