Is this a crime committed within a home?

I will freely admit that this one doesn't quite fit the criteria I set for this blog. But it is really close. And to be brutally honest, I just really felt compelled to write about it.

In Nov. 2004, 37 year old Robert LeClair pled guilty to sexual assault on a minor. Commonly known as statutory rape, he admitted a sexual relationship with a child of 15. It was a crime because she had not reached the age to consent to a sexual relationship at the time of conception. LeClair did not serve any jail time.

As a result of the sexual activity, the 15 year old became pregnant. At the time that LeClair was going to court over the sexual assault, he was already taking steps to gain partial custody of the baby. In Aug. of 2005, the family court denied LeClair any custodial rights to the child. LeClair is taking this to the state Supreme Court trying to  get the ruling changed.

In LeClair's words: "I care deeply about the mother and child," LeClair writes. "… Loving her was no excuse for taking this action instead of waiting for her to be old enough. … There was no force or threats just bad judgment. I know I can't change what's happened but I can change me through treatment and I can be a good father to my son and a responsible person … and take an active role in my child's future."

But there are other ways of looking at this as shown by the attorney representing the mother:

"The whole issue goes to, 'What rights does someone convicted of a crime have to a child conceived as a result of that crime?'" says Michael Blair, the Barre lawyer representing the mother in Supreme Court. "It's an important case and because nothing like it has gone before (the Vermont Supreme Court), there's no real clear picture of the answer."

The family court judge gave his opinion when he denied the custodial rights to the father by saying this:

"It is one thing to confer the duties and obligations of parenthood upon persons who knowingly engage in the risk of fatherhood with adult women who consent to such activity," Eaton wrote. "It is quite another to bestow them upon persons who violate a woman's right to the sanctity of her own body or those who sexually prey upon children lacking the legal, emotional and developmental maturity to consent to sexual activity."
"Our society criminalizes statutory rape for good reason," Eaton wrote. "This court does not endorse the establishment of paternal benefits as a result of conception resulting from a criminal sexual assault, at least where the mother opposes it."

And the court had this to say:

"It is not the brute biological fact of parentage, but the existence of an actual or potential relationship that society recognizes as worthy of respect and parentage," that accords fathers parental rights, the court said. Because of the 27-year age difference, and the fact that the conception occurred because of a statutory rape, the court ruled the father's role in the life of the baby was not worthy of protection by the court.

Now let's take a look at this "bad judgement" as LeClair puts it. He committed a criminal act by having sex with an underage child. In committing that crime, he failed to use protection as a result of which the child became pregnant. Pregnant teens are often looked at as "high risk" when they become pregnant, simply because pregnancy at that age can affect their health and the health of the child. Was that a reliable sign of the "love" he felt for the mother and the child?

"In the best interest of the child". That is a legal term which means that whatever action the court takes has to be weighted by what is best for the child. Well, first of all we have two children here, the mother and the child. And what benefit will it do the child to be caught between a young mother, struggling to cope with what happened to her as a child, and the man who caused what happened? Let alone what it might do to the mother. Yes, there may be a financial benefit. But actually, in most states he can be accessed a child support obligation, irregardless of whether he sees the child or not, as child support is a different issue than custody or visitation.

And the child could end up with an education on sex offenders, if LeClair is on the sex offender registry (I have no way of knowing if the Robert LeClair I found on the New Hampshire registry is the same Robert LeClair or not). But if indeed he is on the list, there are sure to be visits from police and parole officers from time to time. And what about as the child grows goes to school, and makes friends? Could LeClair use that to insert himself in the world that children inhabit? Mr. LeCair mentioned treatment. By all means, he should get through and comprehensive treatment. But really, should he then subject himself to a world where he might be tempted to use "bad judgement" again?

Most children benefit from having two parents in their lives. But I would think that allowing LeClair to be a participant to be in this child's life could be pretty risky. And I don't really see where the benefits would outweigh the risks.

And last but not least, just to simplify the matter: If someone steals my purse, uses my money to purchase a lottery ticket, should they then be allowed to keep the lottery winnings?



  1. Lilo said,

    April 12, 2006 at 1:36 am

    You know, if this sicko was in jail as he should be, there wouldn’t be any question about whether or not he should have custody of the child. IMHO

  2. April 12, 2006 at 2:08 am

    One of our favorite states.

  3. Lilo said,

    April 12, 2006 at 4:18 am

    BTW… if I ever steal your purse and take your money to buy a lotto ticket, and it wins- I’d offer to split it with you. lol

    You know, criminals are people too and just because they have broken the law doesn’t mean that they should be treated like criminals.

    *I may need to get some sleep… I’m starting to loss my seriousness…

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