A question of proof

When alleged rapists sue for parental rights

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JAIME MELENDEZ was a 20-year-old with a chequered past when he raped H.T., a 14-year-old girl, in Dedham, Massachusetts in 2009. H.T. was often home alone after school; her mother worked at the local hospital and her father was dead. Mr Melendez visited her when she was on her own, coerced her to have sex and then threatened her to stay silent. When H.T. became pregnant her doctor called the police. In 2011 Mr Melendez pleaded guilty to rape of a minor.

The judge sentenced him to 16 years of probation and ordered him to submit to a family court, which in 2012 ordered him to pay child support until the infant reaches adulthood. Before then, Mr Melendez had shown no interest in his daughter, but afterwards he demanded to be allowed to visit her. He said it was his right as a father; adding that he would drop the request if he no longer had to pay child support.