Child Custody with an Alleged Statutory Rapist
Jim Carrey’s character in the 1997 film Liar Liar is able to prevail in his client’s spousal agreement case by proving that she was a minor when she signed a prenuptial. Since a minor was unable to consent to the agreement, Carrey’s character won despite being literally unable to lie. Sadly, real life and real law are far more complicated than a 90’s movie make them out to be.
Ash Pereira and her family often moved around and had lived in several different states, including Enterprise, Alabama, before she was 13 years old. When Pereira was 13, she was enrolled in a youth group with Jason Greathouse, a then 24 year old pastor at a Christian supply store. A few months after they met, Greathouse moved in with Pereira’s family because Greathouse couldn’t afford rent elsewhere. Pereira was still being homeschooled at this time. Pereira and Greathouse allegedly had sex when the former was 14 years old. Pereira was pregnant with Greathouse’s child when she was 15 years old. Pereira married her then 26 year old pastor when she was 16 years old.
Pereira, now age 30, claims that her mother was negligent in handling the situation. Pereira claims her mother said it was her fault she became pregnant and her mother pressured her to marry Greathouse. Pereira’s mother claims that Pereira lied about her age to Greathouse and that the marriage was Pereira’s idea.
Pereira and Greathouse divorced after they both accused the other of cheating. They settled for 50/50 custody of their daughter and no child support. Greathouse later tried to obtain primary custody of their child and accused Pereira of being an absent parent, of prioritizing her career over her child, and of introducing their daughter to the occult.
Around the same time, Greathouse was arrested for second-degree rape for having sexual intercourse with Pereira when she was a minor. Greathouse pleaded down to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and got a two-year suspended sentence for a misdemeanor. He asserted that Pereira had lied about her age, though Pereira was in the junior youth group.
The story here is actually not unusual but with terrible consequences. Some parents make the mistake of allowing an older man to move into the home even though they have young or even teenage children. Pereira’s parents should not have allowed Greathouse to move into the home.
Pereira should not have been legally able to marry Greathouse. If a person is legally incapable of entering into a contract to hire a family lawyer, that same person should not be legally able to get married. Instead of divorcing Greathouse, Pereira should have considered an annulment instead.
Child’s Best Interests
As traumatic as Pereira’s teenage years may have been, neither Pereira nor Greathouse are important as their daughter’s best interests. Greathouse’s crimes against Pereira should not matter in a child custody proceeding – the only issue is whether he would commit a similar crime against his daughter. Pereira’s childhood is already over and Greathouse has already been judged by the legal system even if Greathouse was lightly punished.
To be certain, Pereira deserved better than the life she had. However, their daughter still has four more formative years. Pereira and Greathouse should be focused on how their daughter should be raised even if her father’s conduct was reprehensible. Their daughter never asked to be conceived in this manner and further litigation would probably harm her further. It is utterly unfair and cruel to expect an alleged rape victim to share custody with her rapist, but ultimately it is the child’s best interests that should matter most in a custody dispute, even if the parents have abused each other.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Child Custody Issues?
Divorce and separation cases can often become emotional and overwhelming. Your lawyer can help you stay focused on the best outcome for your child, discuss best strategies, and can make sure that your rights as a parent are protected. If you are having issues with child custody or visitation arrangements, it may be in your best interest to hire a local child custody lawyer for guidance.