A woman is suing Massachusetts in federal court, accusing the state of forcing her into a legal relationship with her rapist, Courthouse News reported Wednesday.
In 2009, 20-year-old Jamie Melendez raped the then-14-year-old, according to the news service. ABC News reported that "Melendez went to the girl's house when he knew her mother would not be home and pressured her to have sex with him. She said she felt threatened and intimidated by Melendez."
The unnamed victim became pregnant and gave birth to Melendez's child.
Melendez was convicted of rape and sentenced to 16 years probation, conditions that include a family court order. The victim's complaint argues that the court order "violates her federal rights by binding her to an unwanted 16-year legal relationship with her rapist."
The woman's argument states that she cannot decide whether or not to participate in these family court proceedings without risking losing custody of her child.
In 2012, after Melendez was ordered to pay child support, he requested visitation rights with the child. His request led a state representative to sponsor a bill this year proposing an end to the legal relationship between a rapist and the child conceived during the crime, Massachusetts' Patriot Ledger reported.
Currently, paternal rapists can sue for custody in 31 states.
The complaint argues that "No state court has ever issued an order such as the one at issue here."