- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The biological fathers of children conceived through sexual assault would be stripped of their parental rights under a proposal introduced the Nebraska Legislature on Wednesday.

Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln presented the bill to the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

The measure would apply to biological fathers convicted of first-, second- or third-degree sexual assault in Nebraska.

The bill drew support from a 20-year-old Norfolk woman who told lawmakers that she was raped and impregnated by a co-worker in 2011. The woman told committee members that the father is now seeking supervised visitation for 30 minutes every other week.

The Associated Press does not name sexual assault victims.



Those who choose to keep their child have to face the fear of being bullied and being controlled by their rapist if he wants access to the baby, the woman said.

“Having to face this experience has made me realize how unfair the justice system is and how there’s not that many laws to protect victims of rape and children that are conceived through rape,” she said.

The bill stipulated that the county attorney would file a petition to terminate the rights on behalf of the state. The measure allows for cases where the child’s mother or guardian consents to the parental rights and the court finds that terminating the parental rights is not in the best interest of the child.

Avery, who introduced a similar bill last year, said the bill is designed so that a person cannot plead down from first-, second- or third-degree sexual assault and then claim rights.

The bill is designed to protect women from further physical and psychological harm from her attacker, Avery said.

There were an estimated 17,300 pregnancies in the U.S. from rape in 2012, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

Nebraska is one of 31 states that does not already have this type of legislation, Avery said.

Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha asked about the appeals process and when the rights would be revoked. Avery said the termination applies to the first conviction.

“Men have been convicted of rape who didn’t commit it,” Chambers said.

No one testified against the bill.

___

The bill is LB748.

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