Court ruling allows convicted rapist to petition for visitation with biological daughter

BOSTON — A controversial court ruling has been handed down in a case FOX25 has been following for years. The man who impregnated a 14-year-old girl through rape can now continue his fight for his parental rights in family court.

The rape victim is now 21, her daughter is 7, and the lawyer representing them told Ted Daniel the decision blindsided her.

“We were shocked,” Wendy Murphy said.

In April, Murphy asked the state appeals court to block the convicted rapist from asserting any parental rights in family court. After eight months, the decision handed down was a four page decision that boiled down to one word - no.

“My client, a 14-year-old rape victim who became pregnant from rape, has to share parental rights with the man who attacked her,” Murphy said.

In 2011, Jamie Melendez pleaded guilty in criminal court to raping the victim at her family’s home in Dedham. He was sentenced to probation.

A year later in family court, Melendez was ordered to pay $110 a week in child support. That child support was a factor in the appeals court decision to not remove Melendez's parental rights.

According to the justices, it would "unfairly disadvantage the child by depriving her of the right to receive financial support from both parents.”

Another thing the appeals court cited is a state law passed in 2014 that Murphy calls severely flawed.

“There's almost an incentive in the law for rapists to leave DNA at the crime scene and cause pregnancy, because they know if pregnancy happens it will give them an advantage in court,” she said.

Murphy said she will seek further review from the supreme judicial court.

The last time Melendez petitioned for visitation with his biological daughter, a judge called the request insincere and denied it.

This ruling means Melendez can continue to fight for visitation until the girl is 18 years old.