Vt. man charged wants rights to son

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – A 37-year-old man who conceived a baby with a 15-year-old girl and was later convicted of sexual assault is seeking partial custody of the child he fathered.

Robert LeClair said it was wrong for him to have sexual relations with the girl, but he cared deeply for her and the contact was consensual. He is asking the Vermont Supreme Court to overturn a ruling from Windsor Family Court.

“Loving her was no excuse for taking this action instead of waiting for her to be old enough, LeClair said in court documents. “There was no force or threats just bad judgment. I know I can’t change what’s happened but I can change me through treatment and I can be a good father to my son and a responsible person and take an active role in my child’s future.”

The child was born in November 2004. Two months later LeClair was convicted of sexual assault because the girl was 15, under Vermont’s age of consent of 16. LeClair did not go to jail.

Attorneys in the case say it could set an important legal precedent.

“The whole issue goes to, What rights does someone convicted of a crime have to a child conceived as a result of that crime?”‘ says the mother’s lawyer Michael Blair. “It’s an important case and because nothing like it has gone before (the Vermont Supreme Court), there’s no real clear picture of the answer.”

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