tv This Is Life With Lisa Ling CNN November 20, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm PST
bad dream? >> i can't wake up. >> we explore something inconceivable. women forced to happened their children over to the men who raped them. >> when you found out that the man who raped you wanted to see your child, how did you feel? >> i was angry and scared. i don't understand how that can be possible. >> for happens in many states and potentially affects thousands of women. >> i was told it was the best interest of the child. i was out rage and terrified. >> three are sharing their stories with us. >> the judge sentenced me to live a 16-year relationship with my rapist as a family. >> i don't understand what he is getting out of this. >> one would think the law would protect them, but in much of the country that's not the case. >> does he deserve the privilege of father hood for having raped and caused the birth of a child?
ariel castro requested visitation with the daughter he fathered after raping one of his captives, it shocked the country. what was more sdishing is there was no law in place to stop him. >> in many state fist a man rapes a woman and a child is conceived as a result, it's possible the rapist could get parental rights to the child and we are in one of those states. ♪ twinkle twinkle little star ♪ >> noemi is coaxing a song from her daughter. moments like this are routine, but she clings to them tightly.
>> she is the focus of my world. everything revolves around her. >> what do you want mom tow make? >> a square. >> a square? okay. >> her daughter was conceived under unimaginable circumstances. because of this, she asked that we hide her daughter's identity to protect her privacy. >> what are your fears? >> she will get hurt or something bad will happen to her. >> she was just a senior in high school when she became pregnant with her daughter. in many ways she was the last person you would expect to be a pregnant teen. >> i was very naive, inexperienced. i had no idea what sex really was. >> did you talk about it with your family. >> they said not to have sex before marriage. to this day i don't know how to do any of that stuff. i was so inexperienced. >> she started working at a local restaurant to earn money
for her family. it was there that a 20-year-old coworker began to pay special attention to her. >> i didn't talk very much to him. just if i needed something or he needed help with something. it was just another coworker. >> were you interested in him? >> i thought he was cute. >> did he seem interested in you? >> his behavior, yeah. the jealous type. that's what i was getting. he was like controlling if i would talk to my girlfriends or someone i thought was good-looking or anything. he said what are you searching for. we are here and stuff like that. i didn't picture that this is going to be the out come. >> one night after work, a coworker invited her to the apartment. >> he said he was going to tell me why he was being like that to me and one of my friends dropped
me off and i said i didn't want to have sex with him, but that's it. i don't have a clear memory. >> do you remember waking up at his place? >> yeah and i got a right home and i was confused. i didn't know what happened. i figured out myself later on because there was rumors at work that there was a bet and he slept with me and two months later i found out i was pregnant. i texted him what happened and he said you can't be pregnant unless you are the virgin mary. >> after you found out, when did you report it? >> it wasn't long. someone told my counsellor that i was pregnant and they call mead in and she said we had to report this because it sounds
like rape. >> so i had a detective come to the school and i talked with him and he said i was raped and that we had to take this case. >> she said she remembers middle of what happened that night, we received a copy of court documents that reveal schilling details. >> i had the arrest report filed. here it said she does not remember having sex with the defendant. a couple days later, this officer interviewed the defendant. he suggested he had penetrated her with his fingers consensually, but admitted he began instead using his penis and he lied to her and told her he was just using his fingers and admitted that she asked if she was still a virgin. he misled her by saying he did not have sex with her.
it wasn't until she found out she was pregnant that she realized he had actually had sex with her. based on the defendant's admission, law enforment believed they had enough evidence to charge him with 50 degree sexual assault. >> he was arrest and took a plea bargain for third-degree sexual assault. in nebraska the parental rights are only terminated if they are convicted of sexual assault in the first degree. when her rapist pled to the lesser charge, it cleared the way for a troubling situation. >> did you have any idea that the man who raped you could possibly get parental rights? >> no. i thought if they were charged with rape they department get that benefit of being in the child's life. >> thank you.
>> you're welcome! >> unsupervised visits between her daughter and rapist. >> i can't tell what he will do with my daughter. what he did was terrible. i have to leave my daughter with someone i can't trust. p is for permission to indulge. o is for out of this world. l is for loving the seasonal cuisine. a is for access to everything, including the aisle. r is for reclining in tailor-made bedding. and i, must be dreaming. s... so long, jet lag. polaris, from united.
>> good job. >> for the past year, noemi's rapist had court sanctioned visitation with her daughter. she tries not to think about it, but she is forced to. >> now i have to text my rapist or e-mail my rapist and have conversations with him. >> it wasn't always like this. initially her rapist didn't appear to have any interest in the child. >> i was pregnant and he started sending me messages to abort my baby. fall down a flight of stairs or punch myself in the stomach. and to text him back when it was dead. i was fearing for my life. >> she was applying for assistant and asked to name the father and the state demanded
child support. he requested and was granted visitation with her daughter. >> since he had not beaten my daughter, he got rights. >> that allowed visits to increase overtime. >> visited started at a half hour every other week. they were supervised. now it is 2.5 hours unsupervised at his house almost once a week. they will just keep increasing. >> how will you deal with this over the next few years? >> i don't know. i don't know how i'm going to do that yet. i know that thinking about it is hard enough.
i can't talk. i don't know what i'm going to do. i'm stuck in this situation because he gets that right from the state. there is nothing that we can do. so it's a hopeless feeling. >> it makes n sense. how can someone who confesses to a rape have access to the child, but in a sense access to his victim for the rest of her life. >> the emotional trauma from a rape can be overwhelming. it can take years to overcome without this regular contact between the victim and her rapist. >> thank you for calling the wca. >> the nebraska women's center for advancement serves hundreds of sexual assault survivors a
month. some in the same predictament. >> what's your concern and fear. >> for him to get custody of her because i know his intentions are not to be a father. >> he indicated that the only reason he is am category after custody is to hurt you? >> yes. >> for them, stories like these are too familiar. she navigates custody laws. >> what are rights does the rapist have in the state of nebraska? >> there is a provision that if someone convicted of a first degree assault, he cannot have parenting time or visitation with the child. a lot of times what happens with a plea bargain is the degree is dropped to a lesser charge so that means a rapist automatically receives rights. if it's not a first degree conviction. >> under the statute the way
it's written right now. >> how often do rape cases result in first degree convictions? >> the cases that go to trial are very rare. most criminal cases do end up in a plea bargain. >> as an attorney representing rape victims, how frustrating is it to adhere to these laws? >> it's extremely frustrating. these women whether it's second or third-degree are going through the same trauma and to explain they have different rights and that person could be involved in their child's life is extremely frustrating. >> it's hard. this is not a pregnancy by choice. >> a third of the women choose to keep the child. that's a potential 12,000
custody cases nationwide and yet many states don't have a legal road map for how to deal with them. it has even fewer restrictions on the parental rights of rapists than in nebraska. i'm about to meet a woman who hopes to change that. 21-year-old ht is wearing a disguise. she has requested this to protect her identity. >> i live every day known as that girl. i don't want to be known. >> what kind of town did you grow up in? >> in a small town. when i hit middle school my mom was working a lot. i was in school and i would be
home by myself. >> what were you like at 14? >> very innocent. i was into horses so i would be home with the horses or at church. >> what are role did the church play? >> i was there all the time. that was my group of friends. >> church should have been a place per her to spend the lonely hours, but a 20-year-old man stole her innocence. >> he was dating my best friend's sister. i considered him as an older person. i generally wouldn't hang out with other than car rides and her sister was there. >> what happened? >> he came to my house. i didn't know what was going to happen. i didn't have what people called street smarts. >> huh even kissed a boy? >> no.
i didn't have a boyfriend. i wasn't into that. >> it was during this visit she was sexually assaulted for the first time. >> i was terrified. i cried the entire time. none of it mattered. >> over the next four months, she was assaulted three more times. >> what did he say? >> a lot of threats. don't tell anybody. people will say it's your fault. i would lose everything. all the blame would be on me and my mom would be mad. >> she believed his threats and never told anyone, but her secret was revealed when she found out she was pregnant at a routine physical exam. >> it was a shock. my mom was shocked and said how did this happen and i told her who it was and the doctor said he had to report it. we had to go directly to the police station. >> the rapist was arrested, but
she had to face the choice of motherhood at just 14. >> growing up in church, none of the other options really would work with my faith. that's what made me decide to keep her. >> under no circumstances did you think about terminating the pregnancy? >> no. a lot of people put in all of their opinions that i have to. the baby is going to remind me of everything. nobody's opinion was to keep the baby. if i didn't have her, i wouldn't be able to live with what happened to me. >> the rapist pled guilt tow four counts of rape and abuse of a child. he was sentenced to 16 years of probation and served no jail time. >> i was so upset. you automatically think a criminal is a criminal and he is going to serve the time he is supposed to serve for justice.
i never received that. for her it didn't stop there. the judge sent her rapist to family court where he was ordered to pay child support until ht's daughter reached adulthood. like noemi's case, the rapist made a startling request. >> he said if he had to pay child support, he wanted visitation. i didn't know what to do. that was my spiral downward. i wasn't protected and my daughter wouldn't be protected. ♪ ♪ ♪ how else do you think he gets around so fast? take the reins this holiday and get the mercedes-benz you've always wanted during the winter event.
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we finally got to file the brief and we are waiting to see if he files one. you got a copy of this, right? >> yes. >> i thought so. >> when a judge ordered ht's rapist to family court, he requested visitation with her daughter. she inlisted the help of wendy murphy, an attorney who specializes in civil rights cases for women and children. they have been fighting her case for nearly four years. >> can you believe this continued to go on this long? >> i never thought that i would have to fight against the legal
system. i imagined that would be my safety net. it hasn't. >> it just is a matter of public policy. why would the law want to reward such horrific behavior with the gift of father hood? >> what is the status of her case? >> we have an appeal pending with the massachusetts appeals court and asked them to answer the question. should a convicted rapist have any parental rights at all? our position obviously is that there are no such things as rapists with parental rights. lots of states have not yet answered the question. why? we know statistically babies are born from rape at high numbers. it's not a rare occasion. >> in the justice system, criminal courts handle crimes and family courts handle cases
with domestic issues such as divorce and child custody. she believes it was a mistake to transfer the case to family court. >> we made the argument to the court that we never should have been in family court. this is a felony, not a family. why don't you punish him in the criminal case with restitution? if he knocked windows out instead of raping her, you would say give her the money she can use to put new windows in. >> did you have to see him? >> every time. >> what was it like to face your rapist so regularly? >> it's horrible. i feel like i am always where i started. i am always stuck in my rape. >> to have done that at all to her is just unconscionable. she was 14. >> two years into the case, her rapist offered to drop his
visitation demand if he can get out of paying child support. because of this, the judge concluded her rapist didn't have a genuine interest in the child, and denied him visitation. her legal battle is not over. he has patient at rights and this leaves an important door open. >> what if he comes back and said i'm a reformed man. i now have a deep interest in this child and it isn't tied to my desire to not send support. a guy with parental rights in theory can keep filing. that's a very substantial burden to impose on a rape victim who didn't ask for any of this. why do we have a legal system where they want to give a rapist power over his victim for 16 years? >> sitting and listening to ht's story, it confounds me that they
have been dealing with this for so many years and while she has won a small victory in that her rapist is not allowed to see her child, the fact that the threat of him coming back into her life and her daughter's life still continues to loom. it's just wrong. >> this legal limbo doesn't just affect rape survivors and their children, it makes an entire family feel like they are under siege. noemi and her daughter live with her parents and two younger sisters. they emigrated to the u.s. from mexico. >> looks so good. [speaking foreign language] >> i know you didn't expect to be grand parents so soon.
how has it been to have her in your lives? >> she is a blessing. >> what do you call him? >> my dad. >> he's your dad. oh! how does that feel when she calls you dad? >> good. >> how did you feel when you found out s pregnant and had been sexually assaulted? >> do you feel angry? >> yeah. >> when you found out that the man who raped her would be able to see your grandchild and be part of your lives for a very long time. >> it's really hard to handle. just the way it happened to her.
it's not okay for him to hurt somebody i love. it's just not okay. i just want him to go away. i just don't understand what he is getting out of this. he didn't want the baby in the 50 place and he shouldn't have a choice. >> i think this is a big joke to him. when he is harming other people's lives and harming other people's families. >> do you admire your sister for how she handled it? >> i do. she is one of the strongest people i know. i don't know how i would deal with it. >> i can't even stand by him. i would lose control and probably punch him in the face. i pray and i hope that something will change. they will open their eyes and realize it's not right.
i can't talk. >> for now things have not changed and tomorrow noemi's rapist will have an unsupervised visit with her daughter, a nightmare she shares with many rape survivors throughout the country. the efforts of one florida woman might provide a glimmer of hope. >> it's america's dirty secret and whatever i have to do to change that, i will. hey, i'm paul. and i used to ask if you could hear me now with verizon... not anymore. i'm with sprint now because guess what? it's 2016 and every network is great. in fact, sprint's reliability is now within 1% of verizon. and sprint saves you 50% on most verizon, at&t and t-mobile rates. so, i switched to sprint. and millions more have too.
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florida has one of the toughest rules of rapists getting parental rights. one woman fought hard to change the laws here. >> okay, okay. sit down, please. >> the days start early and are hectic in the household of 41-year-old anna lynn. she is a single mother and live is a constant juggle with little time left over. >> let's check on the baby. >> the people are feeling like they are suffering because there are not people to get things done. >> at the end of the day, anna
lynn manages to lead a double life of sorts. >> there is no such thing size a small case. >> she has a law degree and working with activists to pass laws that limit or terminate the parental rights of rapists. >> legislation making process is like making sausage. it's not very pretty. that's the nicest way to put it. >> what do you want people to know about how many states allow rapists to have rights? >> there are different states that have things on the books. some of them have nothing in place. >> anna lynn believes the rapists often exploit the loopholes to tormt victims. >> it's about power in control and what better way to show control as you go over the child and threaten your family. >> anna lynn understands this pain because she lived it. she nearly lost her own custody battle with her assailant.
>> i am not so much motivated by the crime of the past, but by my daughter. >> i don't feel anything. >> 11 years ago, anna lynn was living in louisiana when she was attacked by an acquaintance. several weeks later she discovered she was pregnant with her daughter. >> how did you feel when you found out you were pregnant? >> i felt a range of things. i think my first initial reaction was shock. at the same time i was just overjoy and amazed i was going to be a mom. i kept looking at the ultrasound and wondering who this person was that was with me through this thing. i felt so alone in what happened and here i had this child. >> what did you think? like that? a little glitter. okay? this was going to be purple too. >> yeah.
>> good. >> because anna lynn's attacker was an acquaintance, he knew she was pregnant. a few months later, anna lynn moved to florida. when her daughter was 5 years old, the attacker found them and requested visitation. >> when this request was made, how did you take that? >> i got ulcers. i was very upset. he was trying to seek to have her sent across state lines to louisiana to meet him. to be there with him as if he was a long lost father. i was told that a biological father through rape is as good as any other father through the laws of florida. let that sink in a bit. i was disgust and outraged. infuriated by it. >> there you go. like that.
perfect. >> after a protracted legal battle, anna lynn won her custody case, but this close call pushed her to make sure other women were protected. >> there was nothing on the books at the time. i remember the judge saying is there anything at all, even a federal law that can prevent this from going forward? i remember the family court saying no, but i'm working on it. >> members undercurrent florida law can exercise rights over children conceived through the rapes. they permit victims to terminate parental rights after the rape resulted in a child's conception. >> she shared her story and florida passed one of the strongest laws in the country. >> what does it feel like to have played a in establishing the model of legislation in florida? >> it was wonderful. it showed me that nothing was
impossible. >> while anna lynn is making headway, she is also fighting another difficult and more personal battle, the battle against the stigma for children conceived in rapes. you can change laws and the real challenge is to ask for a change in hearts and minds. the stigma that is around children like my daughter who are conceived from rape is something that i am devastated by. i am determined to see that change. >> what are do you want people to know about girls like your daughter? >> this is an amazing, wonderful person. please don't hold it against her for what a criminal did that was not her fault. this was somebody who you should want to get to know instead of judge in a negative way for something she did not cause at
all. >> anna lynn has not told her daughter about the circumstances surrounding her conception. >> has she been curious about her dad or does she have an idea? >> she doesn't have any idea. >> are you planning on telling her. >> at some point we will have that conversation in a way that will be very loving and appropriate for where she is in her understanding. >> how do you think she will take it? >> she will have such a strong sense of who she is and how loved she is, she is not going to feel any shame or blame on herself at all. that's my hope. >> that was great. are you so tired? >> yeah. >> you are so fun to watch. your face is so intense. >> thank you. >> do you love it? how does it feel when you do that? >> it makes me feel strong. >> why is it important to feel
strong? >> because women don't get to stand up for themselves a lot. i top the do that when i'm older if i have to. which i hope i don't. >> you want to defend yourself? your mom has been strong through a lot of stuff. >> uh-huh. >> there is so much stigma attached to these children and anna lynn says look at this little girl. despite how she game into the world, she is extraordinary. and you know what? she is. what time is it? it's go time. come on. let's go, let's go, let's go. woooo hoooo!! yeah!! i feel like i went to bed an hour ago. i'll make the cocoa. get a great offer on the car of your grown-up dreams at the mercedes-benz winter event. it's the look on their faces that make it all worthwhile. thank you santa!!! now lease the 2017 c300 for $389 a month
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>> no. it's a nervous stressful feeling that i can't do anything about it. >> where are you going? >> her daughter is too dwroung learn the true identity of the man she is about to spent the afternoon with. she thinks he had a family friend or a social worker. >> that's his car right there. the black one. >> he is in it. >> he is in it. yeah, he said he is out front in his car. that's him. >> come here, princess. see you in a little bit, okay? >> okay. >> hi! >> how's it going? >> bye, princess. i'll pick you up later, okay?
>> it's unfathomable to me that she has to see the man who raped her so regularly. how are you feeling? >> a little sad. it is just -- it is ner nerve-wracking to be in the car with him. >> the visit lasts two and a half hours. it usually takes place at the home of miami rapist. today is a little different. >> where did we just dropped your daughter off at? >> at his christmas party. >> does he tell people that this is my daughter with all these
families? >> i believe so. i took him to the halloween party from his work, he was showing her off and he had pictures of her. >> does two and half hours sometimes seem like an eternity. >> yeah. >> even an hour feels devastating that i have to take her here with this man that i don't trust. >> what is it like to even see him? >> i was shaken and fears and not going to certain places. >> do you think she's having fun with him right now? >> probably. i mean they are in a public place and at a christmas party. she's tiny so she cannot comprehend why he's in her life and who he is and what he doid o me. when she gets older, she will find out who she is. it is not fun anymore for her. it is going to break her heart.
>> is it possible that there could be time when she stays over night at his house? >> yes, in a year. that's going to happen. >> seems like it is as bad dream. >> yes, i cannot wake up. it is real and it is happening and there is more years of it and it is going to get worse. >> the two and a half hours are up and it is time to pick up her daughter. >> wow, princess, look at all you got. >> i got a reindeer. >> a reindeer balloon. >> wow. >> nice. hi. how was it? >> was it fun? >> yeah. >> what did you do. >> we played. >> yeah. >> did you have fun with him? >> yeah.
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childhood. ht is trying to reclaim her future. >> i am now in community college to be a nurse. >> but the threat of a custody battle with her rapist hangs over her. >> there is not a day i can wake up and know about he can never get access to my child or me. if he has access to her then he has access to me. >> her lawyer wendy is still fighting to win the appeal. >> what kind of rights and considering the case is still opened even though there is no visitation. >> wendy hopes to set a legal precedent with this case. >> if you are convicted rapist, you are done. you are not a father and it is not a family. >> good afternoon everyone and thank you for joining us today. we are here to announce legislation. >> lawmakers are starting to pay attention to this issue. >> this pibipartisan encourages
states to pass -- based on clear convincing evidence that a child was conceived through rape. arkansas' house of representatives passed strip rapist of parental rights. >> ana lynn is working hard to get all fifty. >> i want to be unanimous. there are women and children that are going through this, that are suffering silently. >> one, two, three. >> woo! i am hoping that more of them will know that they can survive this and that the level of strength that they have is stronger than any of the pain they have gone through. a law similar to the one in florida is under consideration in nebraska and wendy plans to
testify in front of the state legislatures. >> do you think you have any experiences that you want to include in this testimony? >> i want to talk about how i don't want to be tied in for life. >> i don't think the senator always noticed that the child is a victim in this as well. >> i really want them to change the system. women who get pregnant new to rape should not have to be tied forever with these men. our children are our forgotten victim of this situation. i know my daughter when she finds out the truth, she will hate me for having to make her go with this man, have him in her life -- >> each of these women made such a brave decision to keep a child out of unimaginable circumstances and they should not have to fight everyday to protect those children. they should not be forced to
have to ever deal with the man who raped them ever again. >> that tickles. there is a murder. >> oh man! >> freeze, what did you see? a few seconds of video or a cop dragging a black man down a hall. easy to jump into conclusions if this clip went viral. lets rewind the scene and play it back from beginning to end. >> he's holding a