SILVER SPRING, MD. Efforts to end the parental rights of rapists who conceive a child through rape will continue to top the legislative agenda of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA). Under current Maryland state law, men who impregnate women in the course of sexually assaulting them have full parental rights. MCASA led efforts last session to change this and give victims the right to petition the court to limit the rapist’s rights.
Lead sponsor Kathleen Dumais praised the effort noting, “Our colleagues in the Senate passed this legislation last year, and we look forward to moving it out of the House next session and protecting rape survivors who choose to bear a child conceived through rape.” Last session’s bill was co-sponsored by a majority of the members of both the House and Senate but failed to get out of the House Judiciary Committee.
MCASA also announced a new initiative to respond to cases involving false “ads” soliciting others to rape someone. These internet solicitations pretend to be a victim and advertise for others to come to the victim’s home to sexually assault them, misrepresenting the conduct as a welcome fantasy. Victims have been faced with multiple strangers expecting violent sex and some have been assaulted. Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Kathleen Dumais are sponsoring legislation to prohibit these solicitations and impose a 20 year penalty.
Other legislative initiatives next session include a bill to prohibit persons in authority, such as coaches, from sexually exploiting 16 and 17 year old students. Current law prohibits these authority figures from having sex with older teens only when the child is in the adult’s custody or supervision. Legislation to improve Maryland’s protective order statute, increase penalties for sexual assault during a burglary, and make the human trafficking statute more responsive are also on the non-profit organization’s agenda. A description of MCASA’s full 2014 preliminary legislative agenda can be found at: http://www.mcasa.org/legislative-agenda2014/ or downloaded as a PDF here.
MCASA is the coalition of Maryland’s rape crisis centers and others committed to ending sexual violence. The non-profit organization supports legislation that promotes justice for survivors of sexual violence, accountability for offenders, and protection for the general public.