A US couple and their son are fighting for custody of a baby born to a woman charged with sexually abusing their son, who was 15 at the time of conception.
A paternity test shows that the teen is the father of the baby born April 7 to Jane C. Crane, who was 19 when she became pregnant. Now, a judge has ordered him to pay $50 a month in child support and set visitation at seven hours a week.
Crane, meanwhile, faces criminal charges. A Fairfield County grand jury indicted her last month on two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a fourth-degree felony. Conviction carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a requirement to register as a sex offender for 25 years.
Crane is living with the baby and her family in Lancaster.
The boy’s parents say they can provide a better upbringing for the baby than Crane can. Her household includes her stepfather, David L. Jacobs, who was convicted of domestic violence last year for hitting, choking and pointing a gun at Crane’s 17-year-old sister and was placed on two years’ probation, court records show.
“We don’t want to have our granddaughter abused by these people,” the boy’s father said. “We are trying to do the right thing.
“The child support was the icing on the cake. I couldn’t believe that our son has to pay child support to his abuser.”
The Dispatch does not identify victims of sexual abuse.
Crane is scheduled for a pretrial conference before Common Pleas Judge Richard E. Berens on Aug. 21. A hearing and a status conference in the custody dispute are scheduled for next month before Domestic Relations Judge Kathy S. Mowry.
Crane, now 21, is not a suitable custodial parent in part because she may have committed a felony by having sexual intercourse with a minor younger than 16, the boy’s parents argue in court papers seeking custody.
Crane declined to comment. She is free on a $5,000 recognizance bond pending trial. Her attorney, Sandra Davis, did not return calls. Lawyer Jennifer Strunk, the court-appointed guardian ad litem representing the baby’s interests, said through a spokesman that she could not comment.
That a 19-year-old woman had sex with a 15-year-old boy might seem like no big deal to some, but it is a serious charge, said Assistant Prosecutor Julia Dillon.
It makes no difference that it is an adult female charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor boy rather than the more common instance of an adult male charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor girl.
“It is an age and maturity issue, not a gender issue,” Dillon said. “He’s a young boy coming into his own, being taken advantage of by an adult.”
There could yet be a plea agreement. “I have made what I consider to be a reasonable offer, but I have not received a response,” she said.
The incident has had lasting affects on the boy, now 16, his mother said.
“He has nightmares, he is stressed out,” she said. “He is a father, even though it was a crime for him to be a father. His life is changed forever.”
Crane got to know the family while she worked at a local movie theater with the boy’s older sister. When Crane said that her stepfather was abusive, his family allowed her to move in with them.
The boy’s sister later bought her own home and Crane moved in with her. It was there last summer that Crane had sex with their son at least twice, his parents said.
By Mary Beth Lane
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
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