Two-time convicted rapist Shane McCloskey impregnated his 16-year-old victim, then tried to claim parental rights from prison and prevent the baby from being adopted.
Rep. Jeff Alltus, R-Coeur d’Alene, doesn’t want that to happen again. He proposed legislation Monday that would allow parental rights to be terminated in several situations, including rape.
“It is shocking, it is disgusting,” Alltus said.
McCloskey, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, who made news when he escaped from prison in October and was recaptured in Texas, eventually agreed to the adoption. But when Alltus started looking into the issue, he learned that this was not the only such case.
And when parental rights are claimed, said Todd Joyner of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, “the child can’t be adopted out. There’s no provision.”
Joyner worked with Alltus on the bill, and suggested adding two situations besides rape: Cases where the parent seeking custody has murdered the other parent, and cases where the parent seeking custody will be incarcerated throughout the youngster’s childhood.
Children caught in those situations, Joyner said, “end up staying in foster care for a long time. It’s kind of frustrating for family members.”
Joyner said he’d seen both situations in his work as an Ada County deputy prosecutor.
The bill includes a provision allowing the parent to argue in court that he or she shouldn’t lose parental rights. Alltus and Joyner said that will allow for cases where the two parents are in a consensual relationship and it’s the underage mother’s parents who press charges for rape.
Idaho law makes no distinction between statutory and forcible rape.
But the burden of proof in such a case would be on the father, who would have to prove he’s worthy of being a parent.
The House Judiciary & Rules Committee on Monday returned the bill to Alltus for technical corrections. But Chairman Rep. Celia Gould, R-Buhl, said it will be reconsidered by Friday for introduction.
That’s the deadline to introduce bills in the House.