Statehouse Sitdown: Visitation Rights Bill - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Statehouse Sitdown: Visitation Rights Bill

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In 31 states, including Vermont, men who have fathered children through rape are able to get visitation and custody rights.

But a proposed law is seeking to change that in the state.

The bill before lawmakers in Montpelier seeks to ban rape assailants -- convicted or not -- from having the same rights as any other biological father. But it could still require parental responsibilities such as child support.

The bill's sponsor says the law could help victims who may otherwise not come forward.

"A lot of victims might not want to go through the criminal process for their own reasons, as well they might not want to have a criminal charge on that person's record so it may be that they feel the crimnal process is too much for them, but it's not someone they want around their child and it's not good for the child either," says Representative Kesha Ram (D-Burlington).

Critics worry the proposed law doesn't require a high enough burden of proof and doesn't require a rape conviction, so it may be used to maliciously block some innocent parents from their kids.

The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.

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