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Rapist seeking visitation rights jailed

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The rapist seeking visitation rights with the child fathered from the crime is now in jail, accused of violating his probation, and his motion for parental rights is now drawing opposition from Attorney General Martha Coakley.

A judge originally sentenced the rapist to probation and other conditions after he pled guilty last year to four counts of statutory rape of a child. Prosecutors requested a three to five-year sentence.

Part of the judge's sentence also required the man to admit paternity and appear in family court, which is where he filed a motion seeking visitation rights with the now-3-year-old child.

"I want him out of my life from the very beginning. I don't want to see him. I just don't think that he should be a part of my life at all," the victim told FOX Undercover.

A Probate and Family Court hearing is scheduled next month to decide if the man gets visitation rights. Meanwhile, the victim's attorney is appealing to the state's highest court to intervene, arguing the Superior Court judge who sentenced the rapist to probation should not have forced the man to go to family court.

Getting visitation is not the rapist's priority at the moment, according to his attorney, Steve Weymouth.

"Quite frankly, his freedom is at stake," Weymouth said.

His client is facing state prison time for violating his probation, accused of leaving the state without permission and failing to register as a sex offender.

Weymouth says his client does want a relationship with his child.

"I've noticed over the years that young men who become fathers or find out that their girlfriends or wives are pregnant really decide that they want to change their ways and become responsible," Weymouth said. "Being a parent can do that to people and he seems genuinely interested in being a father and being able to discharge those duties by supporting his daughter, and by spending time with her."

That's something that should not happen, according Coakley, who released a statement to FOX Undercover saying, "We do not believe that this convicted rapist should have visitation rights with this child.  Through this filing, our office is working to ensure that the proper legal process is followed to prevent that from happening."

Coakley filed a memorandum arguing the Supreme Judicial Court should not get involved since the family court has not ruled in favor of visitation.

Wendy Murphy, the victim's attorney, says the AG is missing a chance to keep the case out of family court, which she says is what is giving the rapist the chance to ask for visitation.

"While we appreciate that the Attorney General agrees with us, there should be no visitation rights, it's pretty disturbing that the Attorney General thinks that we should take the risk, gamble with this child's life by going into family court and seeing how it goes," Murphy told FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

Shauna Prewitt lived through a similar scenario and now she speaks out across the country, supporting efforts to strip rapists of parental rights.

"This is a problem and it's happening every day in our country," she said.

Prewitt says she was stunned when her attacker tried to establish a relationship with the child he fathered through his attack.

"I didn't realize this could happen. I didn't realize this was a possibility. I got very lucky and my attacker's parental rights were terminated," she said.

Prewitt is also a lawyer who has studied the issue and is pushing for Massachusetts to join 19 other states that have passed laws restricting parental rights of rapists.

She says even if Massachusetts had a law like this, the rape victim in this case is in a difficult position because the man pleaded guilty to statutory rape.

"Many states have said that when it comes to termination of parental rights, while they will permit termination where this was a forcible rape, often they will look at it differently when it's statutory rape. So even in those states that have those laws I think this girl would have an uphill battle in getting termination of parental rights to occur," she said.

A Massachusetts lawmaker is already planning to file a bill to allow judges to restrict the parental rights of rapists. The victim's attorney insists this was not a romantic relationship, saying her young client was targeted and preyed upon by a much older man.

The rapist is scheduled to appear in Middlesex Superior Court for a probation violation hearing Thursday. The probation department will be asking a judge to send him to prison.

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