While Congress inches along, many states have already begun ending statutory requirements that call for a conviction or proof of rape beyond a reasonable doubt, which explains why rapists could sue for custody in the first place. Over the past four years, 27 states have addressed rapists’ custody rights, up from 16.
“It’s huge,” said Shauna Prewitt, a Chicago-based attorney and rape-victim advocate, who has become this issue’s highest-profile supporter. “This is really my first foray into the legislative arena. To go from 16 to 27 [states] is pretty amazing from what I’ve heard from people. I’m immensely proud of the progress we’ve made.”
Prewitt was raped as an undergraduate, became pregnant as a result, and chose to have her child. She then endured a custody battle with her rapist, which she eventually won.